Six Cohort 7 students inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma

These six members of the Executive MBA’s Cohort 7 will be inducted into the Stetson University chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma because of their high grades. Back row: Aaron Wright, Terrence Tasior and Norbert Dean. Front row: Kelly Glassburn, Charles Rivas and Darcy Clark.

The seventh cohort of Executive MBA students ended 19 months of study — which had taken it halfway around the world — with a festive reception of accolades that produced touching testimony of their experience.

“I expected a good curriculum and great professors when I enrolled, but I did not expect the powerful relationships that we have developed,” Norbert Dean, a sourcing officer at Sea World, told his classmates. “The love and feeling of family as we went through the program was truly moving.”

Six students’ grades were in the top 20 percent of university graduate students and were tapped to join Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition a business student anywhere in the world can receive in a baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate or doctoral program accredited by AACSB International. They are Norbert Dean, Chuck Rivas, Aaron Wright, Terrence Tasior, Kelly Glassburn and Darcy Clark.

These Beta Gamma Sigma honorees and other EMBA graduates will receive diplomas at Stetson University Commencement ceremonies on May 7.

Alumni Profile: Jennifer Small, Cohort 6

The alternating Friday-Saturday schedule of Stetson’s Executive MBA program was a good fit for Jennifer Small ’93, MBA ’10, when she decided to return to her undergraduate alma mater for a master’s degree.

By then, Small was working full-time at The Grove Counseling Center Inc. in Longwood, Fla., a behavioral health and substance use disorder prevention and treatment center for adolescents and adults. She oversees the areas of finance, human resources, quality assurance, and managed care for the nonprofit center.

“The cohort style of the Executive MBA [based at the Stetson University Center at Celebration] was truly rewarding and worthwhile,” she said. “In traveling together halfway around the world for our international trip, we became very close-knit, sharing our experiences and developing an invaluable network, both professionally and personally. The cohort class style offers the ideal venue to create a foundation of lifetime colleagues and friends.”

Two weeks after completing courses for her Executive MBA, Small and her best friend from her undergraduate college days, Pearl Han Ashcraft ’93, traveled to Costa Rica for a service project trip. They spent a week on the tiny, impoverished island of Parismina with Globe Aware, living with a host family and helping build local infrastructure.

Small, who studied violin as a Stetson undergrad, was one of the Executive MBA’s most outstanding graduates in 2010 and was inducted into the international honor society Beta Gamma Sigma. Outside of work and the classroom, she serves on a variety of community boards including the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida, the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association and Seminole County Healthy Start Coalition. She is board chair of the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force and an ambassador with the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Self-discipline pays off for Cohort 6

EMBA’s Cohort 6 -- Back row: Anne Hamilton, Brian Sward, PJ Baro, Andre Hale, Shawn Byrd and Eileen Bowe. Middle row: Abdullah Qasim, Kelly Long, Damaris Jimenez, Mark Snider, Carlos Escobar, Doug Steele, Derrick Guss and Melissa Emley. Front: Bryan Tabler, Deborah Gustafson, Jennifer Small, Melania Lavezzi, Shibani Kyani and Melissa Holycross.

Consider this business proposal: Build a luxury hotel resort condominium on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast that will have rapid initial sales and maintain high occupancy rates. Call it the Tropical Sands. Give it 84 two-bedroom units with many amenities, including balconies with views of both ocean and jungle. Build it in the country’s hottest destination, easily accessible and environmentally rich.

Or what about selling cars online, or operating an adult daycare center or selling wine or developing and selling smart phone apps?

They are all entrepreneurial ideas of students in Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 6, who graduated from Stetson University in May 2010. The detailed business plans, some of which may become reality, are a critical exercise that comes at the end of 19 months of rigorous study.

Awards, surprises, friends and good food made a festive finish for a cohort that went a long way together — all the way, in fact, to the constitutional monarchy of Dubai on the Persian Gulf, 3,700 miles east of the cohort’s classroom, for the international field study element of the group’s studies. In Dubai, students met leading financiers and managers of businesses with a global reach. They also walked the sands of the Arabian Desert and met a few camels.

Students voted lecturer Peggy Stahl of the Management and International Business Department as their “Distinguished Professor.” Jennifer Small was voted “Top Student Overall.” The award for best business plan, decided by Drs. Monique Forte, Ted Surynt and Stuart Michelson, dean of the School of Business Administration, was Tropical Sands, developed by Anne Hamilton, Melania Lavezzi, Abdullah Oasim and Doug Steele.

Among other accomplishments, Cohort 6 left its mark on Stetson by developing a Code of Ethics for future cohorts.

The EMBA program is designed for students with years of real world experience. Cohort 6 is a combination of regional residents, employees of Celebration area businesses, and some who traveled more than two hours to attend class every Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

But that wasn’t the hardest part, said PJ Baro. “Making the decision to obtain a graduate level degree was the most difficult part,” Baro said. After that was merely a matter of “great discipline and focus to balance family, work and school responsibilities.” The reward, he said, has been meaningful relationships, a wide professional network, advanced business knowledge and acumen that will “make a lifelong impact.”

Baro was one of six Cohort 6 members tapped to join the honorary society Beta Gamma Sigma. The others are Eileen Bowe, Melissa Emley, Jennifer Small, Doug Steele and Brian Sward.