All posts by jmcdonnell

Scout’s Honor

Shared by Brian Vann

Scouts, BSA offers boys and girls the opportunity to build leadership skills, develop strong character and learn how to provide service to their communities.  These teachings and the Scouts’ philosophy of developing boys and girls led me to introduce scouting to my sons.  Brian, Jr., 10, is a Webelos and Layson, 7, is a Tiger.

I decided to lead my oldest son’s Tiger Den four years ago.  As a leader in the Scouting program, I learned how the organization impacts our young people.  After two years of leadership at the Den level, I moved to lead the entire Pack as the Cubmaster.  As a Cubmaster, I plan the programming for our Pack meetings and help our Den Leaders deliver the Scouting program to our youth. 

Reflecting on my time in Scouts, the program has impacted me just as much as it impacts the youth.  Watching the youth learn and develop character, service attitudes, and honor inspires me.

Honeymoon Hats by Megan Griffin

Honeymoon Hats by Megan Griffin

Honeymoon Hats™ was founded and designed by one of our very own Stetson EMBA students, Megan Griffin in early 2016. She wanted her sun hat to stand out on a cruise, so she added sequin writing to a store-bought hat. While on the cruise, she received many compliments on the hat, and noticed many couples on their honeymoon. When she returned home, she decided to start selling her handmade hats, and realized she could customize them with the bride’s last name as a perfect gift for all the honeymooners.

The scope of the business has rapidly expanded since then, but the hats are still made by hand in sunny Florida today at Honeymoon Hat HQ. Each hat is customized at the time of purchase for a treasured keepsake that is also a practical vacation accessory.

 Honeymoon Hats™ has received industry recognition in many fashion websites and blogs, including Inside Weddings Magazine,, Yahoo Style, and Shape Magazine. They have become the new essential honeymoon accessory and expanded the bridal gift market. Their success has inspired many imitators, but their hats still remain a testament to quality, luxury, and their signature hand-applied sequin script.

Check out their packages for Bachelorette and Bridal parties.

Honeymoon hats can also be found on Etsy as well as Facebook and Instagram.

For all inquiries, press, or blog collaborations, please email

An Alumna’s Journey – Julie Muckerheide

An Alumna’s Journey – Julie Muckerheide

My career path has been far from conventional.  Being raised in the restaurant business, I was not really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. After earning my Associate of Arts in Political Science, I began working for a commercial construction company initially doing project accounting but quickly moving up and into training and HR.  While I loved the work, I knew my lack of education held me back.  I decided to go back to school to study one of my passions, Culinary Arts.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts, I moved to Orlando to follow a dream of working for the Walt Disney Company.  I was hired as a Sous Chef at Disney’s Polynesian Resort where I worked for 4 years and then moved to Disney’s Old Key West Resort for 3 years.  It was there that I met my Front of House peer, Kim Tuttle.  Kim decided to start the Stetson University EMBA program, and I watched as she blossomed as a Leader and in her life.  It was inspiring, and I wanted that for myself.

It did not take long to convince me that I needed to look at the Stetson EMBA program.  I never thought I would go back to school at 40 to get a Master’s Degree in Business.  No one in my immediate family had advanced degrees, and my background and education did not include in-depth accounting and finance. I knew it would be a challenge for this Chef!  I thought I could manage attending school two days per week, and the Cohort program appealed to me.  I am so glad I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone to go to Stetson.  The EMBA program was life altering.  The Leadership component of the program alone is worth the price of admission.  The knowledge and growth I experienced was tremendous.  Here I was travelling to Thailand, to present a business case to an international technology company on how they could expand their business into the United States.  I came back a very different, and more confident, person.  Several people in my Cohort became like family, and we made memories that I will cherish forever.

Armed with additional experiences and increased knowledge, I took a chance and applied for a brand new role at Walt Disney World while I was finishing my MBA.  The role would move me out of the kitchen and was a considerable promotion.  I was offered the Labor and Training Integration Manager role starting in September 2016.  While my Professors and cohort were a source of support and encouragement throughout the program, they were especially there for me during this job transition, at which time I was also experiencing some health issues. These health issues resulted in a hospital stay and prescribed bed rest, so I very much appreciated my professors and cohort helping me remotely, allowing me to still get all my necessary work for the courses completed. It felt like one of the greatest accomplishments of my life when I walked across that stage for my diploma.

No matter where you are in your career or life, you should definitely take a chance on yourself and participate in this EMBA program!

Nicole O’Reilly Gives Back


At a young age, Nicole O’Reilly, a current student in Cohort 15, learned about the importance of giving back from her mom.Kate O’Reilly, mother of Nicole, shared “When our daughter Nicole was born, I was so thankful that she was healthy. Listening to the radio one day that September when she was just a few months old, the opportunity to become a Partner in Hope for St. Jude Children Research Hospital presented itself. Four and a half years later, our son Sean was born, so I upped the ante.” She participates each year in a national campaign, Thanks and Giving®, created by Marlo, Terre, and Tony Thomas, children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas. Their motto: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

While giving each year, Kate never had an opportunity to visit the facility. “28 years later, I was finally able to see this amazing place,” said Kate. Due to stringent security clearance requirements, she was not able to drive on property when she visited in March 2018. Though she was not able to go into the building, she stated, “I’m proud to be part of something that gives and asks nothing in turn.”

Continuing in her mother’s footsteps, Nicole shares, “I’m grateful to my mom for making my brother and me aware of such an incredible organization that does so much for families going through the unimaginable. In the future, when I have my own family, my goal is to have my kids make the biggest list they can think of: books, movies, toys, etc., go shopping, and then personally take all the donations to St. Jude’s!

Currently, I use an app called Charity Miles as a means to give back. Through corporate sponsors (like Johnson & Johnson, SwapPet, Marriott, etc.), for every mile you walk, run or bike those companies will donate a certain amount of money to the charity of your choice. There are over 40 charities to choose from including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Even though each mile doesn’t earn that much, (I think 10 cents per mile or something along those lines) it adds up! Charity Miles is free to download, and then you just start working out.

I use Charity Miles daily on my lunchtime walk with my friend (and Stetson Hatter MBA ’18 Graduate) Sarah Zambrano, and we used it back in February of this year while I completed my first 5K.

This app can even be used for a fun scavenger hunt day, like my fellow Cohort/SqUadron members Brian Vann, Natalie Ferrer, Nicole Amero, and I did back in April 2018.

Pictured left to right: Nicole O’Reilly, Kate Kroll and Laurie Warfield (Cohort 15)

My fellow Cohort/SqUadron members Laurie Warfield, Kate Kroll, and I have started to walk weekly in Celebration before a homework session. You guessed it, I use the app then too. It’s great to see my daily accomplishments and know that I am making just a small difference to families that are experiencing some of the most difficult times in their lives.”

While balancing the demands of work, school and family, Nicole found her way of supporting those in need. We look forward to seeing the many contributions Nicole will share in the future!

To learn more about/sign up for Charity Miles visit:

To learn more about or donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, visit:





Dr. Joseph Woodside

Dr. Joe Woodside is an Assistant Professor of Business Systems and Analytics at Stetson University teaching undergraduate, graduate, and executive courses on analytics, healthcare, business intelligence, business analysis, and information systems. Some of his previous students shared that he is “an excellent professor and an even better person. Very accessible outside of class and delivers a great lecture. He is committed to ensuring that all of his students succeed in his class and in their careers”, while others commented on his passion for the subject; “You can tell that he loves teaching. He shares his knowledge and wisdom in a way that is encouraging and invigorating. He gives great feedback. He is always available to answer questions either by email or in person”.  Dr. Woodside incorporates his professional industry experience in the classroom, and the learning approach follows his publication on Real-world rigor: An integrative learning approach for industry and higher education.

Stetson’s Executive MBA program and students have been fortunate to have his tremendous expertise during their 18-month program, and have grown tremendously accordingly. Students gain a wealth of knowledge and awareness from relevant case studies, discussions, applications and simulations that demonstrate firsthand how business intelligence and analytics when leveraged properly can make all the difference in decision-making, strategy, and overall business performance.  Dr. Woodside is also releasing a new textbook Applied Health Analytics and Informatics Using SAS, as a result of the significant demand to take advantage of increasing amounts of data by utilizing analytics for insights and decision making in healthcare.

Dr. Matthew Hurst

Matthew Hurst, Ph.D., a tenure-track assistant professor of finance, comes to Stetson from the University of Central Florida in Orlando where his family has lived since the 1930s. He was attracted to the School of Business Administration at Stetson because of its focus on student learning and low student-to-teacher ratio where he could really make an impact on learning. Some of his previous students boasted that he is “the best finance professor at Stetson” and complimented the “practicality of his class.”

Since 2008, Hurst has taught investments, real estate and corporate. He has made presentations of his co-authored research papers at the American Real Estate Society symposium and the Southern Finance Association conference.

Dr. Hurst’s willingness to forge creative instruction with relevant applications in the Executive MBA program has significantly increased overall confidence with financial related matters. EMBA students engage with meaningful activities and projects that equip them as leaders within their businesses to direct and stimulate meaningful discussions, strategic projects and initiatives.

Bright Beginnings for Cohort 16

Stetson’s EMBA program officially congratulates Cohort 16 for completing their first module in this 1 ½ year experience. In a sheer 45 days, an inquisitive group of professionals have met and developed strong new friendships with their cohort-mates who have already become instrumental partners in one another’s learning and Professional Development plans.

Cohort 16’s own Megan Griffin shares with us that she is “loving the program so far and can’t believe [their] first classes are almost over already!” She especially loved the scavenger hunt around Celebration, saying that it gave her a chance to not only become more familiar with the Celebration area, but also to bond with her cohort.

Indeed, Cohort 16 has already had significant exposure to many of the program’s components.  “I loved the first few days of my cohort life! The previous cohort is so friendly and inviting, and the classes have been engaging and great,” stated Joe Styron. They began their journey in mid-August with Orientation, their team-building Scavenger hunt, and an immersive Station Day filled with EMBA alumni, current students, faculty, and an executive coach who helped them grow both individually as leaders and collectively as a cohesive unit.

Our EMBA Alumni Steering Committee gathered members from six cohorts to welcome Cohort 16 and reunite with Cohort 15 after class for a Happy Hour. What a wonderful nightcap to an action-packed day!

Cohort 16 can be extremely proud of their diligent efforts and successful completion of 2 of 17 courses, a fulfilling accomplishment that each student handled with flying colors, as the pictures reflect!

We know they are ready for the ride ahead and look forward to participating and tracking their progress throughout their program.  

Getting to Know You: A Q&A with Jessica Kozlowski

As Cohort 15 prepares to return and Cohort 16 prepares to begin their EMBA journey, we wanted to take the time to get to know our new Assistant Director of Graduate and Professional Programs, Jessica Kozlowski!


Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the beautiful island of St. Croix. You should visit if you haven’t been there before. It’s a great place to kick back and relax with stunning beaches and lots of historical sites to explore.

Tell us about where you worked prior to Stetson

Most of my career has been spent in higher education. Right before joining Stetson, I worked for the University of Notre Dame with the Alliance for Catholic Education. It was a remote position in which I worked with four Notre Dame ACE Academies in Central Florida as the Regional Advancement Coordinator. I also worked at Valencia College as Director of Transition and Enrollment Services and Chestnut Hill College as Assistant Director of Admission and Coordinator of On-campus Recruitment. In addition, I have experience in the staffing industry as an Executive Mortgage Recruiter at ABTSolutions and Director at CareersUSA. I’ve also worked part-time at Walt Disney World for seven years.

What are you most excited about working at Stetson?

Meeting new amazing people, the opportunities for growth and making this a life-long career.

Are you married?

Yes, two years to my loving and supportive husband Tommy. He’s my rock, very handsome and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

Do you have any children?

I have two awesome stepsons, Karter and Tommy Jr., who are totally into sports and enjoy going on adventures with me.

Who inspires you, or is your hero?

Oh boy, this is a hard one for me. My parents were my first heroes and they always will be. I have also really admired Harriet Tubman, but there are many people that inspire me. I am inspired when I see random acts of kindness, good deeds and people bringing hope to others.

What are you passionate about at work?

Building relationships and finding ways to bring new levels of success to the institution.

What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I really enjoy all types of food but, if I really had to pick, it would be a tossup between Latin and Caribbean.

What are some of your secret talents?

I have danced since the age of two and became part of the Caribbean Dance Company and the Contemporary Dance Company in St. Croix so needless to say, I love to dance. I also competed in gymnastics, though I can’t tumble the way I used to anymore – bad wrists. I’ve been told I’m great at event planning, crafts and DIY projects.

Tell us some of your pet peeves?

Injustice, bullies, lies and people who don’t do what they say they are going to do. In general, I truly value integrity.

Where is your alma mater?

Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA where I earned both my bachelor and master degrees.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy going to the beach, hiking, Geocaching and just about anything outdoors. I love adventure and like to experience and try new things from skydiving to new restaurants.

What impression do you want to leave on EMBA students?

It is my personal mission to positively impact those I meet and I would hope to do that for our EMBA students.

Cohort 15 Explore Chiang Mai and Krabi

Nicole Amero from Cohort 15 shares with us the added experiences she had alongside cohort members Kate Kroll and Sophia Baldwin as they explored the “New City” Chiang Mai and the beach town Krabi.

Once Cohort 15 wrapped up our time in Bangkok, many of us took off to different parts around Asia. After a week in the hustle and bustle of the city of Bangkok, it was nice to see the other parts of Thailand. Kate, Sophia, and myself extended our time in Thailand to visit Chiang Mai meaning “New City”, (founded in 1296) and Krabi (founded 1872). Chiang Mai is in the mountains and the largest city in Northern Thailand. It is home to many ancient Buddhist temples. Krabi is on the West Coast of Southern Thailand. Krabi is a beach town and just a short long boat ride to a plethora of islands. These islands are dotted with large rock formations with greenery on them, making them the perfect backdrop for a photo. The towers, called karsts, have been formed from limestone over time. They were originally coral reefs that changed over thousands of years of being exposed to carbon dioxide and acidic water. The two main highlights from our time in Chiang Mai and Krabi were visiting the Elephant Nature Park and a long boat island tour.

Elephant Nature Park was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. We were greeted at our hotel at 8 AM and driven to the mountainside in Chiang Mai where the sanctuary resides. On our trip there we were shown some informational videos on how to properly treat elephants. We also learned about the founder of Elephant Nature Park (ENP) and her passion for saving the gentle giants.

Once we arrived, we were given clothes to change into. Then we filled bags and buckets full of bananas to feed each of the four elephants at this location. By feeding them first, the elephants get to sense you and feel comfortable with you. Once we finished feeding them at this location, we walked alongside them, still feeding them bananas as we trekked up the hillside. At the top of the hill we stopped to feed them greens. Next, we led them down to a running river to splash them. After the river we were treated to a traditional Thai vegetarian meal. It was DELICIOUS. Once we finished our lunch we walked back up the hill to help bathe the elephants in the mud pit. It was dirty and loads of fun. I felt like I was a kid again, running through the mud and getting splashed by the elephants. Finally, we all went down to a small pond and washed off the sweat and mud from the day. Elephants love to play in the water. It was a great day!

Our time in Krabi was cut short by a day due to a missed flight, but we were still able to get in a half day long boat tour when we flew in. After dropping off our bags at our Villa, we headed down to Krabi Town on Ao Nang Beach.

There we met two girls who were traveling from Austria. The five of us paired up and rented a long boat to tour four of the islands. The views were jaw dropping. The water is crystal clear blue and aqua, the islands are lush with greenery, and the beaches are gorgeous. Our long boat guide gave us an hour to explore each island. Many of them are protected as National Parks and are frequented by tourists as well as locals. Tourism is a huge benefit to the economy in Krabi.

We loved our extended time exploring the different parts of Thailand outside of Bangkok! Kop-khun-kha (Thank You) Thailand!

Shared by Nicole Amero.

A Farewell Night to Remember

Cohort 15 now reflects on their time in Thailand and all of their unique experiences in the beautiful city of Bangkok.

Our final night in Bangkok was truly cause for celebration. Cohort 15 spent an enriching and captivating week in the capital, Bangkok. Between meeting with some of the most interesting companies in Thailand and putting together some amazing work for the CCF the students were ready for a night to unwind. Luckily for us, Stetson University gave us the perfect place to do it! 


Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree hotel provided the students with some of the most excellent service,

food and views that we’ve ever seen. We started our experience with a bit of a climb, because you cannot see the top of the world with out some stairs!

We then made our way to the 61st floor to witness some of the most spectacular views the city had to offer. I think most of us could a agree that the views alone were enough for the team to enjoy but we were greeted by the excellent staff who were waiting to provide us with an excellent meal! 


We started off the meal Caesar Salad but this was your not your typical Caesar salad, the chef elevated this dish by adding smoked salmon! Being that seafood is so typical in Thailand this was no surprise. We continued our meal with a delicious corn and crab chowder. The sweet corn and the fresh crab created and rich and flavorful creamy broth. We were then treated to a refreshing palette cleanser, a lychee sorbet. The team then had a choice between a fresh Cod or Angus beef. The meal was then capped off with a delicious lemon and raspberry dessert. 


Vertigo truly summed up our week in Bangkok, it had breathtaking views, bold flavors and wonderful people. 


Blog post shared by Natalie Ferrer