KENNESAW, Ga. | Jan 28, 2022
When LaRell Reynolds began his graduate education in August 2019, he hoped to supplement his journalism career with insight and expertise in business. But his experience in Kennesaw State University’s WebMBA program changed his mind.
During an internship with USAA marketing, Reynolds said he saw how he could use his MBA experience and still flex his creative muscles in a career field he enjoyed.
He said he loved the flexibility that KSU’s online program gave him, allowing him to balance his education with a busy journalism career and experience little interruption when the pandemic began. Reynolds also said faculty’s professional experience was obvious, with lessons pulled from their personal moments of success and challenges.
“The whole experience made me realize I could enjoy a career in business,” he said.
And KSU’s MBA program in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, which has been recognized multiple times as one of the best in the nation and across the globe, has delivered, he added. Upon graduation over the summer, Reynolds landed a position in Philadelphia in JP Morgan Chase’s Chase Associate Program. He’ll rotate through different roles in the company, working full time before graduating to a vice president role.
Reynolds said when he began looking for job opportunities in the business world, he found himself competing with students from top schools, including Ivy League universities. But, with his experience from KSU’s degree, he said he was able to compete with the best.
“These MBA programs open up the door. Companies look for people in that period where they want to transition, and they want to scoop up as much talent as possible,” Reynolds said. “KSU was great, because I got to leverage it being an affordable program with the flexibility and then I got to pivot into doing something that’s fun and interesting.”
Sonia Bell, a July MBA graduate, said she entered the program to ensure her skills could keep up with the need to balance multiple projects, as well as to learn financial management, analytics and operations management as her career moved forward.
The program paid off for her before it was even over, she said.
Bell received a promotion at her job overseeing the business side of Emory University’s multiple projects surrounding battling the spread of harmful diseases while she was still taking classes. Then, just months later and after she’d graduated, Bell accepted a job with the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Ga CORE), as vice president for administration.
“I received almost an immediate return on my investment in my education,” Bell said.
And like Reynolds, Bell said Kennesaw State faculty members’ business experience — from owning small businesses to their successful careers in corporate America — made their teachings both personal and academic.
Zandro Zaragoza, also a July MBA graduate, earned a promotion from a business analyst job to a project manager role at Kimberly-Clark Professional upon his graduation.
Zaragoza began a dual degree program in 2018, combining an information systems master’s with an MBA. He took a break in 2019 and finished up the degrees in 2021. He said he chose Kennesaw State for its reputation, affordability and ability to provide new career opportunities.
“I thought this would be a great asset for me to have,” he said. “I wanted to move more into a business role and leadership role.”
Zaragoza said he was surprised to find some of the misconceptions he had about going back to school were wrong when he found he was in class with students of varying ages and from varying industries. It was that breadth of backgrounds and knowledge that he said proved the program aligned with the goals he had for his career.
“Overall, the program really helped me improve my knowledge of finance, accounting, marketing and business practices that we have at Kimberly-Clark,” he said. “It helps me understand exactly why employers are looking for people with an MBA. You get that breadth of different areas of the business.”
Dennis Marrow, executive director for the MBA program, said reports of alumni receiving promotions and landing new jobs shortly after graduation is common.
He said the experiences of Bell, Reynolds and Zaragoza mirror what many Kennesaw State MBA students experience, often even before they graduate – the realization of career goals. Those results are rewarding for the MBA faculty in the Coles College of Business, he said.
“Because our students are able to put newly acquired knowledge into practice in their jobs immediately, the great majority of KSU MBA students achieve some measure of their desired outcome long before completing their degrees,” Marrow said. “The real cachet of the KSU MBA is the outcomes our students achieve during and after completing their course of study. Our graduates’ success is our success.”
– Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Jason Getz
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.