Category Archives: Program Loyalty

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.

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!

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.

Alumna Valerie Drebsky Reflects On Her Transformative Experience At Stetson

In just a few weeks, yet another cohort of driven and energized students will begin their Stetson Executive MBA experience. As such, alumna Valerie Drebsky of cohort 12 recently took some time to reflect on her own journey before, during, and after the formative EMBA program!

What tangible impact has your Executive MBA experience had on your life?

Friendships & Partnerships- I was part of a cohort of 20 likeminded individuals where we learned, grew, explored, pull through course work, etc. together. We became very close and I learned as much from them as I did the professors. From that we have a network of alumni that continues to grow and there is nothing more exciting than that!

What makes Stetson University’s EMBA program unique?

I went to school originally to get smarter in business. I was in meetings where I wasn’t sure what they were talking about – sounded like another language. It got to a point that “faking it till you make it” wasn’t going to work anymore. For this, business knowledge I could have gone to any university to pursue an MBA. I went to Stetson because I found something I didn’t even know I was looking for. I found a program that invested in me both personally and professionally. I became better-rounded in business as well as learning things about myself I never took the time to get to know.

What professional outcomes have you noticed after receiving your degree?

I learned awareness is so valuable and that is exactly what I got during my time at Stetson. The EMBA program had us dig deep into two major areas- business and ourselves. Graduating from the program and reflecting back I am so grateful for what I learned and continue to learn about both subjects.

Have you traveled post-EMBA trip?

 I have- on our international trip we went to Thailand and from there some of our cohort extended our trip and ventured off. We visited Hong Kong and Tokyo in addition to Thailand. Exactly a year later the company I work for sent me to Shanghai for the opening of two hotels there. I was there for 5 weeks and explored the city of Shanghai as well as Beijing and a return to Hong Kong. Asia was never on my list of places to visit but Stetson pushes you outside of what you think you know. Because of these pushes I have tried things, learned things and had adventures I never imagined.

When did you see members of your cohort last, and do you stay in touch?

 We do! We regroup every other month- open invitation to anyone that can come. We also have other get together like a yearly holiday celebration or a spontaneous- “Hey I miss you – Let’s meet up!”

What do you enjoy outside of work?

Four months ago my wife gave birth to our first child- a baby girl. Today what I love most is hanging out with my little family and watching our daughter see things for the first time! Outside of family I love to run and have recently gotten into workout videos like beachbody. I love trying new things and exploring as well.

What would you like to see included in our next EMBA alumni event?

I love the alumni events – it’s a great way to reconnect with people you may not have seen in a while. What I would love even more is to connect with people there I have never met before such as from other cohorts – etc.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

 Cohort 11: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 11 developed marketing plans for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida for their final project in the Marketing Decision-Making course facilitated by Dr. Michelle DeMoss in Spring 2014. Cohort 11 was instrumental in generating ideas for the development of Second Harvest Food Bank’s marketing objectives, strategies, and assisting them with maximizing marketing opportunities to improve their deliverables to the community. The objective of this project was to apply real world learning experiences to benefit both students and the community.

Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank
Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest incorporated some of Stetson’s Executive MBA marketing plan solutions to use in both the short and long term. With September being the Hunger Action month, Second Harvest was dedicated to promote hunger awareness across the US through special events, e-newsletters, blogs as well as their staff and volunteers wearing orange t-shirts in support of their going orange campaign to fight hunger.

During this time, Second Harvest was also competing to receive a Walmart Fighting Hunger, Spark Change $60,000 grant which would help them provide 315,000 meals to the Central Florida community.

pic2Keith Henry, a current Stetson Executive MBA student and search marketing manager at the Walt Disney Company, helped Second Harvest create their first Facebook campaign. Keith leveraged his professional talents, expertise, and shared strategies to increase their fundraising exposure and marketing efforts, during a timeframe well beyond the conclusion of the advanced marketing course offered in the Executive MBA program. Through collaborative efforts of the Second Harvest team and Keith Henry, success was achieved by winning the Walmart grant for $60,000. “Giving back to those less fortunate is a passion of mine, said Keith Henry. I considered this more than just a class project, for me, it was an opportunity to utilize my expertise for the benefit of an organization I truly believe in. I feel privileged to have played a part in Second Harvest being awarded the $60,000 Walmart grant”. Second Harvest is very appreciative of Keith who donated time out of his busy work, school and family schedule to help them achieve this success and contribute to the Central Florida community.

Executive Students “Support Systems” Impact Success

 Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 10 students participated in our 1st “Family Day” in late October, co-hosted by Dr. McCann and Dr. DeMoss and the Executive MBA team.  The event was held for two purposes:

1) To be introduced to the cohort’s “support system”

Pablo Chavez and his wife, Kristen

2) To hear from both students and their respective “support system” the impact the Management & Leadership course has had on their personal and professional lives over the past 2 months.

The Management and Leadership course, scheduled at the beginning of the EMBA program, provides each student the opportunity to craft a Personal and Professional Development Plan while receiving faculty facilitation, expertise, and suggestions from an “executive coach”.  The students will use this Plan as they practice these goals and work/life behaviors during their 19-month EMBA Journey and beyond.  During this process, each student noted the significance of their “support system” and how these individuals will be instrumental in their practice, journey, and overall success. Therefore, we felt that it was extremely important to wrap these members into our larger “learning community” as quickly as possible!

The students’ “support system” arrived and shared lunch and a discussion regarding their signifi

Judy Ashbrook and her daughter, Kelsey

cant other’s growth since starting their Stetson Executive MBA program on August 10, 2012.  Guests included spouses, fiancées, children, cousins, mentors, alumni from their respective workplace, and even an undergraduate professor, Dr. Allan Hall, who recently retired to Celebration and was the instructor to one of our EMBA graduate students. 

This event was definitely another “learning opportunity” in which all participants benefited greatly. 

  • Students introduced their peers to their support system
  • “Support system” members felt validated in their role as “coach” and “supporter” and the significant appreciation of their student
  • Stetson course facilitators, Dr. Greg McCann & Dr. Michelle DeMoss, were able to glean progress made based on the students diligent efforts and ongoing “practice”

 Wendy Lowe, Assistant Director, shared her understanding and significance of the “support system’s” role in the EMBA experience having once played that role herself.  Wendy encouraged family members to stay involved and as a result of this time together, the EMBA team will be formalizing the “Support System’s” participation in upcoming events with all current students and their families and future cohorts.