From Learners to Leaders: MBA Students, Graduates, Enhance WSU as Employees

By Mia Gleason

The WSU Carson College of Business offers two of the nation’s top online business programs—an online MBA and an online Executive MBA—to accommodate learners of all levels. While their approaches to the coursework varies, both programs offer skill development in business strategy, entrepreneurship, high-level problem solving, and global business acumen. The online MBA offers concentrations in finance, international business, marketing, and hospitality business management. The college also offers a general MBA and an Executive MBA tailored to people who have at least seven years of experience at the managerial level.

At WSU, the staff makes up a sizeable portion of the campus population. Currently, several WSU employees have chosen to enroll in the MBA program or are recent graduates of the program. These students and program alumni are directly applying their knowledge to their careers and adding value to the University’s land-grant mission and its beneficial influence upon the state of Washington.

The Value of an Online MBA Education

Michael Kelly, federal team lead/fiscal analyst,
Sponsored Program Services, and
Michelle Kelly, military science instructor,

Michael (’19) and Michelle (’20) Kelly both came from families with a history of Army veterans. Having met in the WSU Army ROTC program, after graduation the two tied the knot, completed their military assignments, and then got jobs at WSU.

Michelle is a military science instructor with the WSU Army ROTC, and Michael is a federal team lead for sponsored program services at WSU. Michael says pursuing his MBA led to extensive growth opportunities within WSU—having recently received an offer for his new position as federal team lead.

Michelle says the MBA program experience has helped her boost the WSU Army ROTC program because it’s giving her new avenues to collaborate with campus partners and better relate to students.

“I am excited to be able to get back into finance,” Michael says. “As the new federal team lead, I will get to build my position by applying the data analysis and financial operations skills I learned while in the MBA program.”

Emily Dennis, administrative assistant,
Carson College of Business

Emily Dennis (’19), a third-generation Coug, is an MBA student and an administrative assistant in the Carson College’s Department of Marketing and International Business.

“The MBA program provides a really good work-and-life balance. It allows me to work full-time for the university I love so much while still being able to study and advance myself,” she says.

Dennis believes the online MBA program is setting her up for success in her job because it allows her to experience the Coug culture as both a student and an employee. She says her MBA networking experience and training have given her a greater understanding for how to add value to her current position.

“I have learned to be a better leader in the workplace because of my management courses,” Dennis says. “I have also learned to have a better awareness and appreciation for diversity and culture in the workplace because of my international business courses; and my marketing courses have helped me create a plan of action to increase the awareness of our department, the students within it, and the successes we have had.”

Turner McCulley, infrastructure services lead,
WSU Foundation

When Turner McCulley left the Air Force, he immediately jumped into higher education, earning his bachelor’s in management information systems in 2016, followed by an MBA in 2018, both from WSU.

“The MBA program is challenging, but it’s something that anybody can do,” McCulley says. “It will build your confidence, and when you finish, you will feel incredibly accomplished.”

At the WSU Foundation, McCulley says he notices a direct connection between the skills he learned during his MBA coursework and the value he brings to his position as an infrastructure services lead. The WSU Foundation prudently manages, invests, and stewards the assets entrusted to it by WSU and its alumni, friends, and donors.

“A lot of the MBA projects and assignments were about meeting business needs with technology needs,” McCulley says. “I am able to apply what I’ve learned about business strategy and information technology to better WSU.”

Lucinda Gonzales, program assistant,
Global Campus

Having graduated with her bachelor’s in communication studies from the University of Rhode Island, Lucinda Gonzales (’21) always wanted to get her master’s degree. She loves to learn and feels higher education is the opportunity to be a great equalizer.

Following her enrollment in the WSU online MBA program, Gonzales was hired by WSU’s Global Campus as a program assistant where she helps the University build better relationships with students.

“The MBA program has truly expanded my knowledge,” Gonzales says. “Specifically, the introduction to management course was incredibly eye-opening because it really taught me how to manage what is going on behind the scenes of our program offerings at WSU. It allowed me to see how things I was learning in the classroom directly impacted the campus community and the students.”

William Culey, information technology specialist,
Information Technology Services

William Culey (‘20) served four years in the Army and four in the Coast Guard before deciding to enroll in WSU’s management information systems program online. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree in 2015, he started working for WSU Information Technology Services (IT). Culey says he started the MBA program to set himself apart in the industry. A current online MBA student, Culey says networking, asking questions, and working with others to solve technical problems are just a few of the skills that he has been able to directly integrate into his role as an information technology specialist for WSU IT.

“At the end of the day, the program is truly about building your network and growing your community so you and your classmates can be successful in the industry,” Culey says. “Your capstone class prepares you to integrate real-world concepts with your projects, something I am also able to bring into my current position.”

Why Carson online MBA students and graduates are successful

Carson College MBA students and graduates are successful for several reasons. Foremost, the program’s convenient online format is perfect for busy professionals. This flexibility allows students to save on costs—things like childcare, commuting, and parking that can be prohibitive for many working students. Additionally, the program caters to learners who want an accredited MBA at an affordable price. The college has several tuition assistance partnerships that offer eligible MBA students a 10 percent discount on tuition and a waived application fee.

“It is rewarding to see our colleagues issue their vote of confidence by enrolling in the WSU Online MBA programs. Likewise, we are pleased to be able to offer a program that enables our colleagues to continue to better their lives and our beloved institution from within,” says Cheryl Oliver, associate dean for professional programs. “When one of our graduates chooses to work at WSU, it is a pleasure to welcome partners dedicated to our land grant mission, providing opportunity to people in our university system, our region, state, and the world.”

Learn more about the Carson College of Business online MBA programs.