Spokane Judge Fulfills Delayed Dream of Earning MBA
By Mia Gleason
Gloria Ochoa-Bruck (’97 Busi. Admin.,’19 MA Crim. Jus. & Crim., ’21 MBA), a municipal court judge in Spokane, was a first-generation college student.
She knew she would be a good attorney if she could find a pathway to law school. But early in her college years, she struggled to manage full-time work, attend classes at Columbia Basin Community College, and care for her newborn son.
About halfway through her associate’s degree program, an advisor told her she should switch to the paralegal program. Ochoa-Bruck almost gave up on her dream of becoming an attorney. Fortunately, she connected with a different advisor who encouraged her to continue following her passion.
Ochoa-Bruck’s steadfastness in holding onto her dreams led to a career in public service and criminal justice reform. And recently, she earned her MBA at WSU—a degree she had started years earlier but put on hold.
“I am big believer that it’s never too late to pursue a goal,” Ochoa-Bruck says. “Regardless of whether I was in the private or public sector, I knew a working knowledge of finances and budgeting, among other disciplines in the MBA program, would be highly valuable skills.”
The value of understanding business
Understanding business is an asset for lawyers, says Ochoa-Bruck, who graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration from WSU Tri-Cities in 1997.
Her next goal was to earn both a law degree and an MBA through a WSU-University of Idaho partnership available at the time. She was accepted at U of I’s College of Law and began law classes during the fall semester of 1998. Her plan was to work on her MBA after her first year of law school.
Ochoa-Bruck took several MBA classes between completing her bachelor’s degree and starting law school. She earned her Juris Doctor in 2000, but then life got in the way, disrupting her MBA studies. She moved back to Washington, started working, got married, and had two more children.
She earned a master’s in criminal justice and criminology in 2019 from WSU, but the regret of not completing her MBA weighed heavily on Ochoa-Bruck. She eventually petitioned for readmission to complete the MBA she had started 22 years earlier.
She was readmitted to the WSU online MBA program in 2019 and completed her degree in the summer of 2021.
“I am very proud of completing the MBA program,” she says. “It was an accomplishment years in the making, which made the achievement that much more satisfying.”
The impact of an online MBA degree in the workforce
With technology playing such an integral role in today’s environment, Ochoa-Bruck says she valued the WSU online MBA program’s emphasis on information technology.
“Whether you work in the private sector, nonprofit sector, or government, technology has completely changed how we do our work,” she says. “Incorporating information technology early in a project leads to better outcomes and greater success.”
Seeking to fulfill a higher calling
Ochoa-Bruck’s résumé includes working as a deputy prosecutor, an adjunct law professor, and a tribal court judge. She also had a private law practice and was the city of Spokane’s director of local government and multicultural affairs.
More recently, Ochoa-Bruck decided to run for election to the Spokane Municipal Court.
“I was told I shouldn’t do it; that I would not win the election,” Ochoa-Bruck says. “I am proud of myself for having the courage to take a risk.”
Ochoa-Bruck won the election and took office on November 24, 2021.
“Dare to dream big,” she says. “Things will most likely not go as planned, but stay true to who you are. Your journey is yours, and you can go at your own pace.”
Learn more about the Carson College of Business online MBA programs.