Where Are They Now? – A Q&A With An Alumnus

Reminiscing with Cohort 12 Alumnus, Joseph Iglecia-Scholl, on his perspectives of his impactful experience at Stetson University’s EMBA Program.

 

 

What was your career path before attending Stetson’s EMBA program?

Before attending the EMBA program, I was working my way up the ranks at Walt Disney World in food and beverage. I was a manager at one of the larger restaurants on property.

Did that change after graduation?

It changed during the program. I took a leap of faith that persuing my degree and having my MBA from Stetson University would put me ahead of the curve in a smaller and more competitive team.

How did your education enhance or change your current career path?

I find that my MBA helps give me confidence and credibility that I would not have otherwise.

What piece of advice would you give to students considering pursuing an EMBA?

Don’t be afraid. The program is designed for you to learn and to be successful.

How has your education at Stetson impacted your professional life?

My personal network has grown, I have more confidence taking on more difficult projects, and I always know that I have my cohort that I can still count on to help me when I need guidance.

What is the most valuable information you learned while you were in school?

I learned that I am capable of much more than I would have thought I was. There were many times when I thought “I don’t think that I can do this!”  But, step by step and bit by bit with the help of my friends, family, and cohort, every one of those times I came out on top.

What is your favorite memory of Stetson’s EMBA program?

Our international experience, hands down! I have countless memories that will last a lifetime of exploring Bangkok, Thailand with my friends.

Why did you choose our EMBA program over others in the Central Florida area?

No matter who you are or what you do, you work in an international economy and market. I liked the emphasis that Stetson put on international business studies.

What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment during your time in our EMBA program?

It is hard to pick just one. The program stretched me and challenged me from day one.  I think that if I had to nail it down though, I would pick gaining a better understanding of myself as a person and as a leader.  We spent so much time in class looking at ourselves layer by layer “in the mirror” that I feel like I really came to know myself more.

Do you still keep in touch with members from your cohort?

Of course! We have quarterly meet-ups that we all still try to attend, holiday parties, and still get excited whenever we see each other out and about.

Where Are They Now? – A Q&A with an Alumna

Cinthia Douglas, a Cohort 11 alumna of our Stetson EMBA program shares her personal journey and experiences!

How did your education enhance or change your current career path?

Since graduating with my MBA, I received a promotion with Disney Parks & Resorts.  I am now leading the Trade Marketing and the Consumer Marketing for both Disneyland and Disney Cruise line in Latin America.  I can definitely attribute this growth directly to my experience at Stetson.  The program was a wonderful balance of business acumen and meaningful leadership courses.

What piece of advice would you give to students considering pursuing an EMBA?

My #1 piece of advice is that YOU CAN DO THIS!  I did it with a young child and a full time career.  The hardest part is taking that first step and committing.  It is a lot of hard work, yes, and a lot of pressure, but all of it is manageable.  You will learn to manage time like you never have had to in your life.  And, you may have to give up watching TV for about two years (giggles).

How has your education at Stetson impacted your professional life? 

My entire life was impacted truly – Because the leadership courses and career coaching included some serious self-reflection.  That guided self-reflection is what helped me get a clear view of what I valued, and how to lead others by understanding what they value.

Why did you choose our EMBA program over others in the Central Florida area?

I chose the Stetson EMBA because a co-worker recommended it.  I had worked in my field for over ten years, and I was looking to connect with other professionals.  The Friday/Saturday all-day classes were also more convenient for me, having a young child at the time.  I did not want to have to drive Downtown or farther for evening classes during the week.

Spend A Day the Cohort Way, During the EMBA Test Drive

Stetson’s EMBA Test drive allows potential EMBA students to experience our innovative curriculum and immersive learning environment designed to accelerate your career and broaden your business acumen. Cohort 15 members Laurie Warfield and Nicole Amero reflect on how last year’s Test Drive positively impacted their experience with the program, and even played a key role in their decision to attend our EMBA program.


Laurie Warfield had been “contemplating going back to school for a Master’s Degree for several years.” Laurie needed a program that was in-person and fit around her work schedule. After exploring the programs in Central Florida, she found Stetson’s EMBA program and thought that it looked “like a great fit”. After talking with Wendy, the director of EMBA program admissions, Laurie decided to attend an EMBA Test Drive event.

The Test Drive event solidified my decision to enroll in Stetson. It was a personalized, in-depth and engaging session that allowed us to meet alumni and prospective students alike. It was energizing to be in a room with so many successful professionals from a variety of career fields!

A particular positive of the Test Drive experience for Laurie was the chance to hear stories from the program alumni; “they expressed how much the program not only changed their career but their life.”

Laurie also found that the program had an enticing diversity of experiences; Laurie has an undergraduate degree in Biology and was delighted in finding that other members of the program also have extensive backgrounds – because of this, Laurie felt that her cohort could be more like a family.

 Together, our strengths and differences would allow us to be successful throughout the 18 – month program. After attending the Test Drive, and learning how personalized and interactive the degree program was, I knew that pursuing an EMBA at Stetson University was perfect for me personally and professionally.

 

 

Nicole Amero had already submitted her application to the program by the time she attended our Test Drive, but was still awaiting her acceptance letter.

The Test Drive definitely was a validation for me that I had made the correct choice in applying to the program.

Nicole particularly appreciated the opportunity of experiencing a classroom setting. She also took the opportunity during lunch meet and greet with members of Cohort 14. Nicole asked the alumni as many questions about the program as she could, and still keeps in touch with Alicia Matheson, whom she discussed the program with at the Test Drive.

Nicole also noted that the Test Drive displayed to her that Stetson is also “focused on the mental health and well-being of each of their students, in addition to their success.” She discovered that there was a “tight-knit” family feel to the current and past programs members, as well as staff and faculty. I could also tell how much of a tight-knit family it is between current students, staff, and alumni.

Nicole also felt more at ease on her first day of classes as she was familiar with the building, as well as the class setting from the Test Drive, and could also recognize faces from both Cohort 14 and Cohort 15.

I think it was the perfect amount of time to get a glimpse into the lifestyle of a Cohort at Stetson in the EMBA program. The free lunch and swag is always cool, too!

 

Andrew Wertheim, a recent Stetson EMBA graduate from Cohort 13, “found the Test Drive sessions to be a valuable resource for prospective students to get a “real world” feel for how a typical EMBA class is run.” Andrew explains that the Test Drives have a “good mix of Alumni who collaboratively participate in case simulations and discussions in much the same way [that they] would do in a class.”

He states that he has “found … students benefit not only from these interactive activities by working closely with [alumni], but it [also] helps to take away some of the “unknown” and break down any apprehensions students might have in terms of their ability to navigate the program successfully.”

Andrew also reflects on the added bonus of the lunch as it “is scheduled along with the current Cohort. This offers potential candidates a chance to open up and really ask questions they’d like to hear firsthand from current students.”

 Overall, the Test Drive is a great “mini-sampling” of what the EMBA program will be like. I recommend it to anyone interested in possibly pursing an EMBA at Stetson.

 

Adam Swiatek is a current EMBA student in Cohort 14, and enjoys sharing “the EMBA experience with prospective students. There’s no better way to experience the EMBA than by spending the day with [current students] during the Test Drive.”

At the Test Drive, you’ll meet “students of the current cohorts enrolled in the program today. The cohort is an important component in creating an open and supportive learning environment. You’ll learn more about how group work, classroom activities and the international trip can bring your fellow students together. By creating those closer bonds, you’ll build each other up and help each other out in ways that you might have never expected.

As you’ll see during the Test Drive, the learning and deeper interactions among cohort members continues outside of the classroom. During lunch, breaks and after-class happy hours, the cohort continues to help each other navigate their own educational journey. Your richer education is important – but, so is applying that experience to your home and work life. Through these more social interactions, you’ll uncover just how your cohort members can help you think differently and possibly solve your own personal challenges.”

I hope to meet you during the Stetson EMBA Test Drive!

Cohort 15 Reflects Inward in Completing a Professional Development Plan

One of the transformative aspects of Stetson University’s EMBA Program is our unique Leadership Development courses placed strategically throughout the students 18-month experience. In the first course, students develop a Professional Development Plan (PDP), designed to be their roadmap for leadership growth and skill development. The PDP is viewed as a living dynamic document that will be enhanced and altered as a result of their academic and collaborative learning environment and personal journey. Ideally, the PDP will become an indispensable archive of reflection during the program and should provide documentation of student’s professional and personal growth.

Cohort 15 is currently developing their PDPs and a few members shared their experience with our team.

Juan Yang shared that she learned was “priceless to [her] and [her] family.” She found that the progress helped her discover and find out “who [she is] and what [she wants] to do the most to develop [her] career goal”. In exploring herself and her family, she also believes that her mother has taught her resiliency from a young age.

 

Elena Outlan found that “developing the PDP was quite a bit of work.” She found that her approach was more systematic, which she was glad of – it was a fine line to follow the steps of the assignment “or you would quickly realize that you are in trouble.”

Elena spoke volumes towards the EMBA program here at Stetson as she discussed the impact her classes had on her ability to complete her initial attempt at her PDP.

I believe the discussion topics and reading materials we had during and outside class were also extremely important in shaping our thinking around the PDP document.

Though Elena finds she “cannot state that [her] PDP is close to perfect”, she thanks Dean Neal and Dr. Kelly for their teachings, as they provided a “solid roadmap” to continuing her professional development throughout the duration of this course.

 

Aziz Ndiaye stated that he “enjoyed writing the PDP” and found it to be an extremely useful tool with regards to his personal and professional growth. Aziz noted that he intends to “lean on the talented professionals from [cohort 15] to strengthen [his] leadership skills.”

Aziz reflected that he has enjoyed the experience of writing a PDP before, as he has compiled many versions of this throughout his career, as well as S.M.A.R.T goals. He therefore did not find this assignment challenging, but instead embraced the task and was “very excited to work on this critical project”.

I can assure you that Dr. Mero and Dr. Hall have made this Leadership and Management Class very interactive and entirely meaningful.

Cohort 14 Reflection on their Professional Development Plans

 As Cohort 15’s deadline for submitting their Personal Development Plan (PDP) approaches, we asked Dave and Jason from Cohort 14 for their tips and reflections with regards to their experience with this assignment.

Dave reflected that the assignment “was more work than [he] expected”; however, he “learned a lot about [himself].” Through his experience, he had the realization that a personal development plan is “a document that is a work in progress. It is not done when you turn it in. In fact, it may never be done!”

After handing in his assignment, he felt free to focus on his next project. It did, however, afford him the opportunity to get feedback from others and, more importantly, helped him realize that the assignment “is wholly owned by yours truly,” lamenting that it is more of a commitment he made to himself.

The net of it is that I can’t let myself down, or others that depend on me.

The point that Dave found most beneficial to walk away with, is that he had a tendency “to use [his] head when working through challenging issues”, and yet through the assignment, he learned through “the encouragement [he] received in [his] leadership journey was to “listen” to [his] heart”. He finds that he has since made decisions in this regard, and been all the better for it.

Dave hopes to find the time in the future to share more of his journey, and choices made, thanks to experiences and opportunities relating to this assignment.

Jason reflected that he knew “if [he] wanted to be successful with this paper and subsequently the program, [he] would need to assimilate the knowledge learned with real life application”. He reflects on theories learned in the classroom that could help shape students into becoming leaders. He found that he was able to “introspectively consider [his] character as it related to [his] strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots.” This allowed him to gain greater insight into how others viewed him as a leader also.

Jason found, similarly to Dave, that his PDP needed to be approached more as a “work in progress, which then became a map” to aid him in navigating his EMBA. Jason also included a SMART goal in his PDP, as he determined that it would help him “lean out of [his] comfort zone by including some personal character challenges.”

Part of our learning was how to grow through understanding the unknown aspects of ourselves and embracing them. This notion resonated with me and was one of the main pillars of my PDP.

One tip Jason had for the PDP assignment was that students should look at their current situation, and what led them to where they are at that moment. Using the PDP like a road map as he did, the project could be used to help each individual aim beyond their “target growth and challenge [themselves] to the extent of [their] capabilities.” After all, each individual is looking to obtain personal growth through the program. All in all, Jason summed up the assignment – and the program – in this:

You will be surprising yourself in ways you did not think possible throughout your program, and you will be humbled by your experiences.

Climbing Mount Everest: A Simulating Experience

On Friday September 22nd, Cohort 15 participated in a number of stations, one of which focused on leadership and teamwork. This particular station involved groups of five completing a web-based simulation of a team climbing Mount Everest! Our graduate assistants Jenny and Lauren share their and their teammates’ experiences of working together in an attempt to reach the summit.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of spending roughly two hours with a few of our members from Cohort 15 in a simulation that focused on problem-solving and decision-making challenges. Each person in the group was assigned an individual position (either: leader, marathoner, environmentalist, physician, or photographer). However, they had one group goal in mind: make it up the summit of Mount Everest together. The group faced obstacles along the way that forced them to make decisions as a team in a way that would not only benefit an individual, but would also benefit the group as a whole and thus increase their chances of making it to the top together.

Jenny’s Group –

Jenny’s team took some time to explore the program together and read aloud the goals for the climb. It was quickly noted that individual goals would contrast with each other, and there were going to have to be decisions made along the climb in the interest of the group and not the individual. With each stage, the group discussed pros and cons, always only proceeding with everyone in agreement.

Nicole, Sophia, Abdoul, Kristie, and Jenny (GA) during their teamwork task of progressing to the summit of Mount Everest.

There were sacrifices made for the group, which all members were more than willing to make. Individual goals and points were forgotten, and the overall climb and health of each member quickly became the main concern. The interesting aspect of a struggle with oxygen was that everyone had pieces of information with regards to calculations, but it was only by putting the information together that the answer could actually be found.  Though the team did not make it to the summit – as two individuals had to be rescued – it was considered an overall success for coming so far and working so well as a team.

Discussion/Feedback –

Jenny enjoyed the time to bond with the group and work together to reach their goals, and liked how team members were becoming more and more concerned for each other’s health as time went on, even though it was just a simulation. Abdoul said that though he felt exhausted after the experience, he felt that with a lack of information, mistakes were inevitable, but that it was a good lesson that making mistakes is a big part of leadership and teamwork. Sophia felt that the team became more confident in each other and were going with gut feelings, which is also a big part of teamwork and leadership. Kristie very much enjoyed that the efforts and concerns for the group as a whole took preference over individual goals. She also appreciated that though there was an assigned leader, everyone had equal input into the decisions that were made. Nicole noted that the survey during the simulation asked questions regarding to disagreements and contrasting opinions during discussions, but she found that in each decision we made, we were all unanimous and united as a group.

Abdoul, Jenny (graduate assistant), Nicole, Kristie, and Sophia, after an (almost) successful journey up the mountain!

Lauren’s Group

On day four, Lauren’s group had successfully made it to camp three. However, they were all starting to have critical health conditions both physically and mentally, with some team members also having frostbite and breathing issues. They were faced with the decision of whether to remain at camp three and let everyone rest for the day or move forward to camp four before resting, which was recommended by experts as well as earned them more ‘team points.’ Lauren’s group decided to try and make it to camp four despite everyone being in critical health conditions. Unfortunately, this was not the best choice for them, and both their photographer and physician had to be rescued and brought back to base camp. The next day, the three remaining members made the trudge up the summit, but unfortunately two members ran out of oxygen and had to be rescued and returned to base camp. Because of this, the leader was the only one to make it to the top of the summit successfully.

Discussion/Feedback –

After the stimulation, everyone in Lauren’s group agreed that they had worked really well together despite not making to the top of the summit together. Everyone in her group had decided to disclose any health related issues they had, which they could have kept to themselves. The group felt that this benefited them as they were all aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

One of the students in Lauren’s group described this experience in her own words: “This stimulation was a lot like life: it throws random obstacles at you and you just have to learn and adapt to the curve balls.” The group also agreed that again, like life, it is important to take risks, but it is also important to be conservative sometimes. They took a risk going to camp four to earn more team points, but perhaps they should have been a little more conservative with this decision considering the critical condition of all the team members. Everyone in Lauren’s group had a blast doing this stimulation! They all agreed that it was a great way to get to know their cohort members more through a team building process which took them out of their comfort zone and forced them to make decisions as a group rather than individually.

 

 

 

 

The Newest Cohort in Celebration

On August 18th, Cohort 14 welcomed Cohort 15 to Stetson’s Executive MBA Program. Adam Swiatek from Cohort 14 shares some great highlights from Orientation weekend. Our new students are eager and enthusiastic to begin classes and we are excited to have them!

Each year, the Stetson EMBA admits a tight-knit group of students to the program. The group takes classes together, travels abroad, creates group projects and socializes together. Through the structure and the experience that the EMBA provides, students are able to take relationships to the next level – creating bonds that are unparalleled and unmatched.

Since the program is selective, there is extra special attention given to each student and the relationships that form as a result of the program. Cohort 14 (affectionately called the “Legion”) welcomed Cohort 15 last weekend. These are the new eager students who will be sharing the Center at Celebration with the “Legion” – and more importantly, the snack room! They are the next generation and the next wave of EMBA learners coming through the program prepared to receive a transformational experience.

Cohort 14 paved the way for strong relationships and close bonds. Over this past summer, those relationships were strengthened as the cohort traveled to Hong Kong and Bangkok as part of their International Field Experience course. Through in the moment scenarios, that could only come up when traveling, the cohort bonded and learned more about each other. They were already close – but, the trip experience really solidified the deal.

When they returned back to the Center, they were excited to keep the memories of their time together going with the new wall décor in Celebration featuring their travels and experiences of our Cohort 14 students on the walls for all to enjoy!

Cohort 15 was welcomed to the EMBA program by Cohort 14 students with open arms. Returning students could not wait to meet the new students for breakfast. And, the meeting of new friends continued at lunch at Happy Hour after class. Returning students interspersed with new students during meals – as they told the tales and shared their personal experiences of the journey the next 18 months ahead.

Following the first weekend of class, some Cohort 15 students already started using the study rooms and taking advantage of the resources that Stetson provides. This won’t be the only opportunity that they have to use the study rooms. There will be 18 more months of coursework and small group work ahead. While some of it will be relatively easy, some of it will really take the mental power and support of the whole cohort. They will discover their strengths – some strengths that they might not even know they had – and band together to make the educational experience truly amazing.

Cohort 14 undoubtedly will continue to be great mentors and supporters of our new executive students as they learn to balance professional and personal priorities with being a student in a progressive master’s program. As these two cohorts collaborate, naturally skills will be transferred and networks will be broadened heightening each individual’s experience.  Later this fall, Alumni will be added to the mix with our Tailgate Mixer at the Stetson vs. Brown football game in DeLand and then in the spring at our annual Alumni event. Pairing emerging leaders in Central Florida has been a highlight for all involved.

Some Final Top Tips From Cohort 14’s Lyndsey Denton!

As Cohort 15 embarks on their EMBA journey, Lyndsey Denton from Cohort 14 shares some final tips before this semester takes off! It’s all about balance, strengthening current relationships, and making new lifetime connections!

Lyndsey with husband.

One of the best parts about this program is its ability to transform you. Be prepared for that! If you are willing to be honest with yourself and be vulnerable to the rest of the cohort, it can be life changing! With that being said, don’t forget that you do have other obligations to uphold besides school. Everyone has a life outside of school, so it’s important to remember to take the time to relax and unwind! Take a day or 2 (I like the Sunday after a class weekend best!) to not do homework if you can and just relax with family or friends. You can find balance if you just make sure to use time wisely with the rest of your days until next class time. As many fellow cohort members have said, take a couple hours each day doing homework. It’s easy to procrastinate with 2 weeks between classes typically, but I would recommend just carving out a little time each day. There’s a lot of reading and coursework to do between each class weekends, so you can get it all accomplished without feeling too stressed if you do a little every day.

Lyndsey (second row, third from the right) with friends from Cohort 14.

Embrace Group work: When it comes to group work, I’ve found it works best for me when I’ve physically met with my group. While this may not always be available, it is a good idea to try to accomplish such a couple of times. I was a little afraid of group work at first, because much of my undergrad had been done so individually focused. I’ve grown to enjoy group projects because more ideas are formed and more can be accomplished together. Everyone in the group has their own strengths they bring to the projects.

Another tip I would recommend is to take time to build relationships with your cohort. You are all on this journey together, and know what the others are going through. I’ve found being vulnerable and open with everyone to be a great experience and is helping me to grow in so many ways. Share your wins and losses with each other, things in and out of the classroom. This may include going out with the other members of the cohort after class, this is a great way to get to know everyone and let loose. Building relationships with these people has been awesome, and I could not be more proud to be a member of this group of individuals.

“Your Cohort Is Your Family”

With less than 2 weeks left until we welcome Cohort 15, current students continue to share their advice from their journey thus far. Julie Billy, Cohort 14 shares what she wishes she knew before beginning Stetson’s EMBA program last August. 

Tips, Tricks & Insights

If only I knew what I know now…

  • One word. SYLLABUS. Once you receive the syllabus, study it in detail and break up the assignments into manageable tasks so you’re not waiting until the last minute. 

What I’ve learned thus far…

  • Plan to set aside time for focused studying. Make it a ritual. Schedule this time in your calendar and repeat each week for consistency. It takes 21 days to create a habit, this is a habit you want to achieve early on.
  • Your cohort is like family…scratch that, they ARE your family. You will lean on them and they will lean on you. Everyone has something they’re good at it, learn from them and willingly share your talents with the cohort.
  • Communication is key. If you’re having trouble with any particular
    Julie (third from the right) with friends from Cohort 14.

    concept or assignment, DO NOT wait too long before you seek assistance. The professors are more than willing to help you and answer any question you have. There is no such thing as a stupid question.

International Trip!!!  

  • Enjoy yourself. Take advantage of this opportunity to the absolute fullest.
  • Bring a notepad with you to your business meetings. It’s exciting to go overseas, so it’s easy to forget the little things.
  • Business is important. But take the time to hang out and decompress with your cohort members. It has been an enlightening experience and by far these relationships have been the highlight of the program for me.

Tips For What’s To Come

In just a few short weeks, new students will begin their journey as members of Stetson’s Executive MBA program. Cohort 14 student, Adam Swiatek offers his own thoughts on how to be successful in this demanding, yet incredibly rewarding, experience! 

Meet-up with Skype for Business! You all lead busy lives with work, school and your family. Meeting up face-to-face at Stetson may not always be in the cards. Do a video meet-up on Skype. Add in a little screen sharing and you’ll have that Accounting project finished in no time!

Gear up for the time of your life during the International Experience! Find a travel buddy in the cohort and chart your adventures. Get out and explore as much as you can – who knows when you’ll be half way around the world again! Socialize and eat like a local. Find the gems that make the cities you visit top destinations.

Stay connected. Even though you may not have class every week, stay connected with your cohort mates and school on Stetson email. Make an Outlook Group and keep your conversations going, even when you are not at school.

It’ll be rewarding; it’ll be challenging! The Stetson EMBA has been one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences for me. It has also been a challenge. Balancing school, work and real-life is not always easy. But know that you’ve got so many people in the same boat with you – your cohort! Talk to them, or talk to Cohort 14. We’ve “been there” so we might have some advice.

In a group, use your talents: divide and conquer! Discover what you’re “good at” and bring those skills to the table. Chances are, in your group, you’ll have all of the skills you need to make one phenomenal project!

They’re there for you. Know that the Stetson EMBA is supported by some of the best. If you have a question, need help, want to share a laugh… the Stetson EMBA support team is world-class, and why I think the Stetson EMBA is so special.

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