Category Archives: Alumni Profile

Janice’s Transformational EMBA Journey Results In Lifelong Opportunities

Janice Trew

Shared by Janice Trew

As a senior in high school, I had an opportunity to join a two-day business session in our regional school district. Our first guest speaker talked to a room full of college-bound high school seniors about the importance of a college degree and more so the importance a Master’s Degree would be 15 years from that moment. I remember thinking I was barely prepared to spend another 4 years in school, yet alone more. His comments stuck with me and here I am today, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. And though it took a while to convince me I needed additional education, the choice was based on timing, opportunity and support.

Stetson’s Cohort 14 EMBA students posing for a group picture.

My career path has always been focused on Food and Beverage. From my first job at 14 in a breakfast cafe, to my first professional internship at 21, I have worked all types of food service in many different positions. I wanted a change after 15 years as a Food & Beverage Leader at Walt Disney World. Better yet, I needed a change. An old friend, and alumni of Stetson EMBA, called me up with an opportunity to work in Revenue Management as an analyst, focused on Food & Beverage Line of Business. I was overjoyed to join the analytical workforce where I could use my vast knowledge of the food and beverage industry behind the scenes. Not only was I fortunate to work along side my friend Brian Sward (alumni) and Krista Eudene (alumni), I  also met and became friends with Marissa Condello who was just finishing up her program at Stetson. Along with past F&B peers I’ve had the privilege to work next to, those three spoke so highly of the program, I finally sought more information. I knew I could be more successful in my new role, with additional education. It was the first time in my 15 professional years, I felt the desire to learn more to advance my potential.

The choice to go back to school became a family decision. Both my husband and I worked full-time during the weekdays, and watched over our three young daughters. We analyzed our finances and talked through what a typical week schedule would look like if we decided I was able to go to grad school. Since our daughters were still in elementary school and middle school without after-school activities, the timing was the best it could be. I never wanted to be a “calendar person” but quickly realized my success as a professional, a college student, a wife and mother would depend greatly on a balanced schedule. We made it work. We agreed to keep family movie nights every Friday, but sacrificed family dinners on Sunday to study. We agreed on early bedtimes, so I could study at night and still watch Saturday football every other weekend. Even squeezed three half marathons into the 18months, for added fun.

Cohort 14 at Disneyland in Hong Kong during their International Trip.

I could have never predicted the profound influence the EMBA, and my cohort, would have on me. The leadership course taught me so much about myself, in both a professional perspective and a personal insight. I was taught vulnerability and strength. It allowed me to thrive in my past role, and gave me courage to seek out new opportunities. Half-way through my program, I was promoted into a senior analyst role within the Food and Beverage Pricing and Revenue Management team. Through the business courses, I realized what I passion I had for financial business aspects. Motivated by Dr. Giovanni Fernandez’ classes, I started to look for new roles at Walt Disney World in the financial arena.  Since my last class in Spring 2018, I was offered a role with the  Attendance Forecasting team on a large-scale project with vast scope and challenges. And just recently joined the Merchandise Forecasting team as a Senior Analyst. I truly believe the Stetson EMBA helped create the opportunities for me, through advanced education and leadership.

I graduated in May 2018, as part of Legion 14, with a Masters in Business Administration and 11 life-long friends. We shared ideas, projects, long study nights, and lunches. We bonded in Hong Kong and Thailand but grew roots for those friendships since Day 1. We watched one another grow personally, and professionally. We had each others’ backs; if one of us stressed, we all offered a helping hand. All the late nights, all the weekends studying, all the pressure and all the help: it was worth every minute, every penny, every effort. This program helped me believe in myself and helped me reach my potential.

Janice & family on graduation day.

Making Magic with my MBA

Shared by Sarah Culver, Alumna of Cohort 12

Completing the Stetson EMBA has enriched my personal and professional life in ways that I could not have imagined. When I was considering MBA programs, I chose Stetson because it was complementary to my full-time job at The Walt Disney World Resort, and I was really intrigued by the cohort experience. I knew that no matter what master’s program I selected, it would be a challenge and come with trying times, so I liked the concept of going through the whole program with a cohort that would be a great support system. I learned it was much more, as the cohort quickly became part of my family.

Sarah Culver


The technical knowledge I gained during my EMBA gave me the depth of understanding and the credibility to be someone my team could count on to analyze financial reports and data, as well as the ability to see unconventional ways to improve efficiencies, save costs, and improve workplace safety. The varied subjects we studied gave me many lenses to look at the workplace with and a better concept of the “big picture”. This knowledge helped me as I got promoted during my program to being a Restaurant Guest Experience Manager in Magic Kingdom Park.


While the technical knowledge was an extremely important part of gaining my EMBA, the concepts that we learned about the difference between being a leader and a manager have been very relevant throughout my leadership journey at Disney.


One of the most valuable parts of the EMBA program for me was the coaching sessions and the focus on self-reflection and being intentional about how you approach each area of your life to be the best leader you can be. My advice to anyone considering this program would be that to reap the benefits of this approach, you have to be vulnerable and “all in”. Like most things in life, it will be what you make of it, and you will only gain what you are willing to put in. The result for me brought about a positive shift that allowed me to better align my personal and professional life and not only be a better employee and leader, but also be a better friend, partner, daughter, and sister.


Reflecting on my Stetson experience, I have taken away so much more than 18 months of intensive studying, learning concepts, and developing skills; I realize now that it was a platform to catapult me into a lifetime of learning. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to participate in this program because it would not have been possible without support from leaders, coworkers, family, friends, and Disney’s commitment to continued learning. Since graduation, I have had the opportunity to work and learn from different restaurants at Disney and most recently have had the opportunity to join a leadership team supporting Disney Internships and Programs that aligns with my values of ongoing education and development.


My personal life has also had some exciting changes since graduation; I met my forever partner, and we recently got engaged and bought our first house! I can’t wait to see what my next chapters hold; I’ve got a lot of learning and adventures ahead!

Britteny Freemyer, Jessica Zaucha, and Joe Iglecia (fellow Cohort 12 classmates) help Sarah Culver and Andrew Bosko celebrate their recent engagement!

Cohort 15 Presents their Integrative Research Projects

Each year students ending their EMBA program have a Capstone Project to complete and present on their last day of class. This year it was Cohort 15’s turn to present their final project before celebrating together that evening at their graduation party.

They were tasked with a research project on launching an innovative product or service, or redesigning an existing product or service for the bottom of the pyramid. Each of the 4 teams were fully responsible for the project from beginning to end. Below is an overview of the companies each team presented on.

Generation Hearts

Pictured from left to right: Juan Yang, Lilian Kaares, Ryan Gormon and Elena Outlan

Generation Hearts is a company whose vision is to enhance the quality of life for lonely, aging, less fortunate individuals by satisfying the basic human need of interaction via an intergenerational safe and caring virtual social network. Their logo which displays connected hearts aims to connect generations to one another to help the aging population who are lonely. Through a downloadable app on your phone, seniors could easily connect to trained individuals that will speak with them and keep them company for some time throughout the day. This company was created by Ryan Gorman, Elena Outlan, Lilian Kaares and Juan Yang.

Block Builders

Block Builders was created by Kris Sahadeo, Kristie Jones, Nicole Amero and Sophia Baldwin to enhance lives by creating high quality places to live. Their mission is to build world-class, affordable residences through up-cycling shipping containers into Minuscule Mansions. Don’t let the fact that they are shipping containers fool you, while they are very affordable, each container is fully outfitted to look like a regular home and redesigned exteriors form beautiful communities.  

GrOtown Greens


Pictured from left to right: Brian Vann, Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Jessica Bundy and Laure Warfield

GrOtown Greens is dedicated to feeding and fueling Orlando through a vertically integrated model which incorporates school gardens, holistic education, a fresh take on a food truck (for improved access to healthy dishes and increased food distribution) and continued community engagement opportunities. Through their efforts, GrOtown Greens hopes to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow for children and their families in Central Florida. This company was created by Jessica Bundy, Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Brian Vann and Laurie Warfield.

F3: Food For the Future

Pictured from left to right: Aziz Ndiaye, Nicole O’Reilly, Eddie Molina and Greg Lucas

Food For the Future (F3) was created by Aziz Ndiaye, Nicole O’Reilly, Eddie Molina and Greg Lucas. F3 leverages the organizational advantage of an established non-profit (Meals on Wheels America) to create an in-home delivery option for families who need food during school breaks. Through partnerships with multiple non-profits and civic organizations they bring peace of mind and create “Full Bellies, Healthy Minds” to the underprivileged youth of Central Florida. By working with administrators in local schools with free and reduced lunch populations, families could connect to F3 to receive this service.

With their presentations, final projects and papers submitted, SqUadron 15 can now take some time to relax and celebrate their accomplishments. We can’t wait to see you walk across the stage on Graduation Day!

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, Racked.com, 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 info@honeymoonhats.com.

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!

Alumna Karla Jain Powell ’16

Choosing to do Stetson’s EMBA program was one of the best decisions I’ve made personally and professionally. It was the perfect balance for me to grow business skills and learn deeply about what my drivers are that can be applied to work and my life as a whole.

While in school I worked for the Walt Disney Company in Learning and Development. I knew this was an area I was passionate about and wanted to pursue further when I was done with school. I had lived in Florida for 6 years and though I loved my time there, I always knew it wasn’t my forever.

In my new home state of Colorado.

Shortly after graduation I was recruited to work for a company in Colorado as they were creating a new Learning and Development team. They were very excited to hear about the program at Stetson and how we focus not only on business development but personal and leadership development as well. I took a leap of faith, packed up my life in Florida, and made the move for this new career opportunity.

Most recently I’ve been able to use all facets of my EMBA in a Project Management role. Being able to see something full scope is something I solely credit to Stetson. Seeing the impacts of one decision financially, strategically, and employee focused are all skills I learned in the program.

Earning my EMBA at Stetson was the busiest, craziest, sleepless two years of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I left the program with an education I’m very proud of and lifelong friendships.

Visiting best friends (Cohort 12) back in Orlando. Pictured left to right: Joe Iglecia-Scholl, Jessica Zaucha, Karla Jain Powell, Britteny Freemyer and Sarah Culver.

Thank you Stetson!

Written by: Karla Jain Powell ’16

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.

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.