Law student aims for career in the health care industry

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

With a father who is a physical therapist, the idea of working in the healthcare industry always appealed to Sheila Murugan, a 3L student at Michigan State University College of Law whose long-term plan is to work as in-house counsel for a corporation in this field.

A graduate of Manalapan High School in New Jersey, Murugan took her first rung on this career ladder by earning an undergrad degree in health care management from the University of Connecticut.

“I loved learning about the field, especially since health care affects every person and is constantly changing,” she says. Her minor in gerontology taught her about health systems and challenges facing the aging population.

Murugan, who has volunteered at a medical center and at a hospice, spent three undergrad summers interning at Blue Cross Blue Shield, initially in the claim appeals department in West Trenton, N.J., and later the pharmacy services department in Newark.

“I kept returning because I thoroughly enjoyed the work, from interacting with consumers to working on new programs to boost medication adherence,” she says.

Murugan was always fascinated by the regulatory aspect of health care.

“There was so much going on behind the scenes, and this was also around the time that the ACA was signed in law,” she explains. “This piqued my interest in the legal field, and I wanted to be
part of these decisions and have an impact on changes such as those that were playing such an important role in reforming the industry.”

She went on to pursue a joint degree from MSU: a J.D., and an MBA in finance from MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business, in order to further develop her business acumen.

“With my finance concentration I’m gaining knowledge about an area I had little experience in, as well as learning how to apply what I’ve learned to a managerial setting which is essential for my career path in the future,” she says.

In 2014, Murugan spent her summer as a law clerk at the Office of the Public Defender in Asbury Park, N.J., where she enjoyed putting her classroom learning into practice.

“I was able to write memos and briefs that my supervisor, the public defender, would submit to the court, and I learned how to conduct client interviews, prepare exhibits from case files, and learn the inner workings of the court system,” she says.

Last summer, she gained experience as a finance intern at Pratt & Whitney in Lansing, a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units.

“The work was challenging but helped me hone the finance skills I learned in the MBA program,” she says. “The aviation aspect was an added bonus since finance in this particular industry was a whole new perspective on the work I did.”

Moving to the Lansing area was “a geographical shock” for the New Jersey native.

“Lansing is a lot quieter than I expected, but also much prettier,” she says. “I’ve not explored much of the state, but I do enjoy finding new places to eat or explore. And its close proximity to places like Chicago has allowed me to travel to new cities.”

Despite the large college campus, Murugan found a sense of community at MSU, where she joined the Journal of Business & Securities Law in her 2L year, and this year is one of the two Managing Editors of Publication. She has also volunteered at the Michigan Legal Help website.

“Coming from New Jersey and not knowing a single person in Michigan, I was apprehensive about starting over in an entirely new place – but the law school is a little community in and of itself,” she explains. “The variety of organizations you can be a part of and the numerous social events provide countless opportunities to meet people with similar interests.”

In her leisure time, Murugan enjoys seeing movies and playing tennis. Bitten by the travel bug, she and a friend visited England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Monaco, and Spain last summer, and this coming summer she plans to visit Turkey and Greece.