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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2021 Graduate Education

Alumnus Aaron Wheeler Finds Passion for Teaching and Giving Back to the Carson College Community

By Mia Gleason • Photo courtesy of Aaron Wheeler

When Aaron Wheeler (’20 EMBA) made the decision to pursue a graduate degree, he took into consideration his passion for teaching and leadership. After considering his options, the influence of his wife and his mentor ultimately led him to pursue his executive master’s in business administration (EMBA) online from Washington State University.

“I wanted to be a good leader and knew I had the natural talent, but I didn’t have the formal training,” Wheeler says. “The WSU program was perfect for that and spoke to me about what I wanted to do.”

“It’s hard to describe, but when you teach someone something, whether it’s how to get on a Zoom call or change out backups on large systems with my team at work, you can see a difference in their eyes when they actually learn something from you,” Wheeler says. “That to me is more rewarding than anything else. Teaching someone something new and seeing that light of understanding go off in their eyes is amazing. It is a space I am very interested in.”

Wheeler really enjoyed the executive option because the leadership components challenged him to think more critically; it also allowed him to connect with program faculty members about his future goals of teaching one day. He attributes part of his academic success to the program’s flexible, online format.

“The college has given me an opportunity to do something I didn’t ever think I would be able to do,” Wheeler says. “There is a camaraderie between faculty and classmates. When you are a Coug, you are a Coug for life. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Wheeler also has developed strong ties to the EMBA program and the WSU community. He says his growing affinity as a Coug led him to give back to WSU.

An Ambassador for Cougs

As a stand-out student, Wheeler was approached by one of the EMBA program faculty about his interests in teaching. That exercise propelled Wheeler forward into wanting to teach others about his experiences in the program, as well as what they could be doing in their futures. He became a Coug ambassador to speak to students about his career and how life changing the EMBA program has been for him.

“The most rewarding thing about being a Coug ambassador has been sharing my stories and experiences. Having someone out there feel the same way that I did drives me forward,” Wheeler says. “The idea that I can be an inspiration and a resource through my testimonial is super cool.”

Giving back to the EMBA program is something Wheeler talks about freely to those he believes could learn from his experiences.

“I believe in this program, and it’s really a calling for me to give back in this way,” Wheeler says. “I believe in business and the free market, but the pursuit of profit has never been my end goal. While my immediate job track will keep me on track to be a chief operating officer for a nonprofit, I know the best thing I can do is pass my experiences along to future generations.”

Learn more about the Executive MBA online.

Aaron Wheeler

The most rewarding thing about being a Coug ambassador has been sharing my stories and experiences.