Huerta Honored as Webster Rolla’s outstanding graduate student
When Allen Huerta was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood as his next duty station with the United States Army in August 2019, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
He was previously stationed in Vilseck, Germany, and he knew his experiences at Fort Leonard Wood would be different, but he had no idea just how different everything would ultimately be.
Since then, he has played a vital role in Fort Leonard Wood’s COVID-19 efforts, has almost finished a Master of Health Administration degree, and was recently named Webster University Rolla’s 2020-2021 Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year.
None of these accomplishments were on Huerta’s radar for what his future would hold when he first arrived in Missouri.
Huerta said his path that led to Webster Rolla started by visiting Fort Leonard Wood’s education center and inquiring about graduate programs.
“Toward the beginning of my time at Fort Leonard Wood, I had more free time, and I was interested in advancing my education,” he said. “I asked about Webster Fort Leonard Wood’s MBA program, and after speaking with someone, I realized the MHA degree offered at the Rolla campus would be the better fit for me.”
Huerta said this was all pre-COVID, and the reason he decided to go with Webster Rolla’s MHA was that it was going to be a seated, on-campus program.
He then enrolled in Webster Rolla’s program in January 2020, expecting to take his very first prerequisite class online, and then shifting to on-campus classes after that. He said he was excited to interact with students in a classroom.
“People are going to laugh, but COVID had other plans for that,” he said. “Right when I was supposed step on campus for classes, everything went remote.”
Thanks to Webster Rolla’s remote learning platforms, Huerta was still able to interact with his classmates and professors in real time via WebEx and later Zoom. He said it wasn’t what he initially expected, but it was still a positive experience.
“I have loved learning from my professors and classmates,” he said. “This isn’t how I thought everything would go, but I have enjoyed the experience.”
Dr. Greg Edwards, the Rolla campus director, said he was proud to present the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year award to Huerta.
“Allen is such a positive, hard-working person with so much to offer,” he said. “I have been so impressed with all of his efforts both as a student and as a medical professional. He is more than deserving of this honor, and I love being able to recognize all of his efforts.”
Since beginning Webster Rolla’s MHA program, Huerta has served as both a full-time student and a full-time Soldier. When the pandemic began, Huerta's duties switched from being a First Aid Trainer for the Army to instead working as a paramedic.
For a period of time, he also worked in the ER with critical patients as they were brought to his facility, and he has served as a Screening Facility Shift Supervisor and been involved with vaccination events on post.
In total, Huerta has served in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years. As a First Aid Trainer, he regularly facilitated the training and education of over 20,000 students per year for basic first aid and covered advanced first aid techniques for over 500 employees per year.
Huerta said his time as an active-duty Soldier will come to an end in February, and he is now considering his next steps. He said he knows his education at Webster Rolla will help him with his future aspirations.
“I have been looking into some fellowship programs and other healthcare leadership roles,” he said. “I would love to find something here locally, but it is all about the timing and how I plan my life around everything.”
Huerta said he is not worried about what may come next. He said life has already had major changes for everyone over the past two years, and he has faith everything will work out moving forward.
“I like to take life as it comes,” he said. “I guess I am like a hippie in a sense, and I know everything will be OK.”
He said his primary objective has always been to find ways to make an impact for people during their times of need, and he wants to continue doing this in the future.
For more information about Webster Rolla’s MHA program, visit www.webster.edu/rolla or email the campus at email@example.com.