Jay Ponteri, English faculty, will be a guest author on Sugar Radio, hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond on February 14, 2016.
You may graduate from Marylhurst University, but odds are you will never really leave.
Especially if you happen to work at the Surgery Center at Tanasbourne west of Portland, where three recent Marylhurst MBA grads recall shared college experiences while going about their daily work helping others.
It's a coincidence that Sarah Allgood, James Kamps and Randy Hubbard all ended up working for this same suburban medical facility. Though perhaps it's not surprising, given the size and popularity of Marylhurst's MBA program.
James, a 2011 MBA grad, became the surgery center's administrator in summer 2012, and has grown the business exponentially ever since. He met Sarah, a 2010 alum, at a previous job; she had recently finished her Marylhurst MBA, and he was in the final stages of his. They bonded over talk of finance classes and other shared Marylhurst experiences.
"I was in the last phase of my MBA, working on my capstone project, when I met Sarah," James recalled. "Because I wasn't going through commencement, she brought in her cap and gown the day I got my final grades, and I walked through the office," to great applause, he added.
The two connected again when Sarah joined the surgery center in fall 2012, quickly working her way up to business manager.
"This company is owned by an East Coast firm, and Sarah is one of their star performers," James commented.
"One of? There's more? Who are they?" Sarah shot back.
Confident, just like a Marylhurst MBA grad should be.
The duo was joined by a third Marylhurst student, Randy Hubbard, in spring 2013, when he landed at the center as director of nursing. They're collectively celebrating the completion of his MBA in March 2014.
"I had just enrolled at Marylhurst when I met Sarah," Randy remembered. "I looked at her and said, 'Don't I know you? You're the poster child for Marylhurst.'"
Turns out Randy had been on the university website, where Sarah was featured as a successful alum who had benefitted from scholarship support.
Different paths to Marylhurst
All three of these professionals come from different backgrounds. Sarah went straight into the U.S. Army after high school, and came to Marylhurst with one year of veterans' education benefits left, determined to complete her MBA in general management in a single year – which she did. James is a veteran, too, with a background as a nurse; he completed his MBA with a focus in health care to better position himself for an administrative career. And Randy, also a nurse, earned bachelor's and master's degrees from other Oregon colleges before moving into the Marylhurst MBA program at a key career juncture.
Randy and James studied in the accelerated online program, while Sarah attended classes on campus. All have similar accolades, though, for how their Marylhurst MBA prepared them for their current positions – and their futures.
"I love learning from people who live in different places but are in the same online classroom," Randy said. "One of my fellow students was both a physician and a nurse, and another was a government official who was really smart – it made for amazing discussion posts. I really enjoy the perspective I gain from other students."
"The program teaches problem solving and critical thinking, and offers a foundation of business knowledge and how it applies to the real world," Sarah explained. "It's a great program if you're pursuing a career in leadership and management."
"The program gives you just enough exposure in several skill areas," James added. "The curriculum requires you to really think about projects. It allows you to become someone with credibility in a business environment. It's great preparedness for the real world."
"Like a bootcamp" – but worth it
They're clear, too, about the commitment required to complete the rigorous program.
James worked two jobs while earning his MBA. Sarah took an average of 13 credits per term. Randy took his family to Disneyland while in the program, working on school projects during his "vacation."
"It's almost like a bootcamp," Randy recalled. "It's great life preparation. You realize how much time you really have in a day."
"You have to be disciplined to do the work," James said. "It's 'welcome to the class – this is due tomorrow.'"
All three grads are glad they made the effort, as they agree a bachelor's degree isn't enough in the competitive world they inhabit.
"A B.A. is now like a high school diploma," Sarah said.
To get a management job, "it's really required now that you either have a master's degree or are pursuing a master's degree," Randy added.
James' advice to other mid-career adults considering an MBA?
"Make the leap. Once you're committed to it, you'll get it done."
And while you're at it, you may discover some fellow grads in unexpected places – perhaps in the office next door.