Grad Story: With MBA in Hand, Haag Aims to Turn Tragedy into Triumph

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As a youngster, soon-to-be MBA grad Andrew Haag was severely injured in a horrific car crash that killed his father and one of his brothers.

As the years passed, he realized the experience made him want to go into hospital administration—because he knows that’s a career where he can have a positive impact.

Today, Haag takes a major step toward that goal when he receives his MBA from UT.

“I know a little about hospitals,” said Haag, of Hendersonville, Tennessee. “I was at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for three months. I see hospitals as a place of healing.”

Haag’s tragedy occurred one Christmas Eve; he was eight years old and riding in the car with his father and two brothers. The crash killed his father and middle brother and severely injured Andrew and his oldest brother. Andrew suffered a broken lower back and major abdominal injuries, leaving him unable to walk without forearm crutches and leg braces.

Already big fans of University of Tennessee football, Haag and his brother, Eric, received phone calls after the accident from then-UT Head Football Coach Phillip Fulmer and quarterback Peyton Manning.

“I remember looking across the hall and seeing my brother’s excitement while talking on the phone,” remembers Haag. “Then my phone rang. It was Coach Fulmer and Peyton Manning. They were in Florida for the Citrus Bowl, and they called us! There are no words to describe what that means to a child at a time like that.”

Over the years, Fulmer remained in contact with the family, bringing both Haag and his brother under his wing as student equipment managers in the Vols football program. With the obvious tie to sports, Haag originally thought his path would be sports management or marketing.

“In my senior year as a marketing major, I decided that sports wasn’t the path I wanted to travel,” Haag said. “I kept thinking about my childhood experiences and realized that the hospital setting was where I could have the most impact. I wasn’t interested in the clinical side —I wanted administration—so I knew I needed to get my MBA.”

While earning his MBA, Haag has worked as a graduate assistant in the Center for Executive Education and as an administrative intern at UT Medical Center.

“Being in the hospital strengthened my commitment to the path I am on,” he says. “Whether wearing a white coat in the patient’s room or a business suit in the accounting office, caring for patients is the first priority.”

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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