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!