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Sarah Dodson, MBA '20
Sarah Dodson, MBA '20

Innovation MBA Program
Supply Chain Manager at Bowman Andros Products, LLC

Sarah Dodson knows what it means to work hard, and isn't afraid to commit. Forecasting Manager at Bowman Andros Products, Dodson was the recipient of the JMU College of Business award for Outstanding MBA Student. She decided to pursue her MBA to give herself a new mental challenge but had "fear of failure

“It had been many years since I had been in school and the idea taking tests, writing papers while juggling the added schedule of school work with home life, all compounded the fear.”

In reality, Sarah did anything but fail. She became a leader in her cohort, and others learned from her.

“The program has improved my analytical reasoning skills while broadening my understanding of the global business processes and their complex interconnectivity. Through interactions with fellow students, professors, and sharing of all of their unique work/life experiences, the program has provided a very well rounded, multi-perspective curriculum that has enhanced my professional skillset while challenging me mentally.”

When asked what advice Sarah would give to future MBA students she said, 

“Don’t let the fear of failure or fear of change ever hold you back from an opportunity. When we allow the fear to win, we miss the chance to learn and grow; and we miss the possibility of an endless road of new opportunities that come with new-found knowledge. Be kind to each other and support one another. For at least two years, you will be going through the process of this together. Don’t hesitate to speak up in class and share an experience, idea, or thought. Professors love it and it is through this sharing that our classmates learn from, build on, and modify their innovative ideas.

Kyle Houser, MBA '19
Kyle Houser - 2019 MBA Graduate

Executive Leadership MBA Program
US Channel Marketing, Apple

Kyle Houser's recent MBA graduation earned him the proud designation of "Double Duke."

I’ve always been curious about leadership development, and consider myself a lifelong learner. I had looked into the JMU MBA several times before, but when JMU launched the Executive Leadership MBA I decided it was the perfect program. The blended online and in-person format was suitable for my work schedule, given how much I travel, and it aligned perfectly with my interest in leadership competency and skill development

Houser was able to transition to a job he loves because of the MBA Program.

The MBA, combined with my work experience, has helped me transition from sales to one of my true passions, marketing. The MBA program incorporated leadership aspects from all functional areas of an organization, which is what helped me discover my interest in marketing. Personally, the MBA program was a great way to challenge me beyond the day-to-day challenges at work. It was a great escape to stretch my knowledge and continue learning. I certainly miss the case studies and group projects we were able to work on as part of the program!

When asked for advice he would give to an incoming student, Kyle said,

You’ll never feel ready, there is always an excuse to not pursue something. The key is to just start. If you’re considering the MBA, just get started. JMU does a great job organizing the MBA program in a way that accommodates your personal and professional life outside of school. My second piece of advice is that you will get out of this program what you put in. Lean in on the classes and topics that most interest you, and you will learn an immense amount in a short time.

Samantha Melendez, MBA '20
Samantha Melendez - 2020 MBA Graduate

Information Security MBA Program
Management Consultant, Helios HR

Samantha has had the goal of pursuing her MBA since she earned her undergraduate degree.

My biggest hurdle was thinking I had to forfeit my social life and that I wouldn't be at the same intellectual level as my peers. I feared I would miss out on family moments and time with friends, but that isn't always the case.

Melendez was inspired by her father, who earned his MBA while parenting two kids.

By achieving my goals I am motivating them and making them proud. My peers have all types of backgrounds, some with established careers in information security, but the instructors and my peers create a safe space for all of us to contribute and share our varying experiences so we can all learn from each other.

Reflecting on her journey she adds,

This program has challenged me to think differently and to identify problems in different ways. It helped me to realize how much I could balance as an individual. Since being in the MBA program, I have obtained a new position which may not have been possible if I wasn't working towards this goal. I love my current job and I am very happy with where it has taken me.

When asked for her advice for someone interested in pursuing their MBA, Samantha says,

“The dust doesn’t have to settle for you to be ready. Do it now and figure out the rest as it comes.”

Raymond Gay, MBA '19
Raymond Gay - 2019 MBA Graduate

Innovation MBA Program
Investment Advisor, Fiduciary Wealth

Raymond decided to pursue his MBA despite being more tenured in his career.

I felt like my career had taken me to a place that I needed to introduce a new challenge. Specifically, I thought it was time to be challenged in a setting that would provide me exposure to concepts from outside of my industry and my professional experience. I believed that pursuing my MBA would broaden my knowledge and experience, making me a better advisor to my clients and, ultimately, a better business owner.

Raymond reached his goal and found the experience provided him with

“the experience and knowledge that I would never have achieved through work alone. I can confidently say that I am a better advisor and bring more value to my clients because of the experiences and the challenges of the program. The program also helped me to see that I wanted to create something of my own, and I had the skillset and experience to pursue going independent. I'm in my dream job now. Running my OWN practice is what I discovered I should be doing during the program. I hope to continue to grow the firm and create something that has longevity, will be impactful to those we serve and be a place where I can help build up the next generation of advisors that can continue to help people be good stewards of their resources.

Reflecting on the program, Raymond said,

Each class added value to my career while taking them, and I didn't have to wait to complete the program to reap the benefits.

Diverse Cohorts

Our students come from different backgrounds and a wide range of employers:

For Profit
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Merck
  • Rayheon
  • Capital One
  • Oppenheimer Funds
  • Sony
  • Deloitte
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • Accenture
  • Lockheed Martin
  • IBM
  • GE
Government
  • FBI
  • U.S. Army
  • FEMA
  • UVA Health Systems
Non-Profit
  • American Diabetes Association
  • University of Chicago
  • America's Charities

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