Cover Photo Image

MBA Duke of the Day: Sarah Dodson

Innovation | Cohort 10

Sarah Dodson

Sarah Dodson knows what it takes to work hard, and isn’t afraid to commit. Forecasting Manager at Bowman Andros Products, May graduate, Sarah Dodson received the JMU College of Business award for the Outstanding MBA Student. She decided to pursue her MBA to give herself a new mental challenge but feared her 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, multiperspective curriculum that has enhanced my professional skillset while challenging me mentally.”

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

“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.”

Congratulations Sarah and Innovation cohort 10 for earning your MBA!  It’s students like Sarah that make JMU’s MBA programs so valuable and nationally recognized. Our programs are designed for working professionals who want to invest in themselves. We are honored that Sarah chose James Madison University for her Master’s in Business Administration.

MBA Duke of the Day: Barney Casino

Innovation | Cohort 10 | Graduating May 2020

Barney Casino - MBA Duke of the Day - 2020When we first met Barney Casino in the summer of 2018, he introduced himself, and made sure to include "yes, my real name is Barney Casino."  Barney not only has a good sense of humor, he has brought a lot of work experience, insight and leadership to the Innovation MBA program. In the first few weeks of classes, Barney asked if his fellow cohort members to treat the program as a place that was safe to make mistakes, a place without judgement - only encouragement.  When we asked Barney what advice he would give to other students starting the program, he said,

"Avoid the dangerously incorrect thinking that one person's success comes from another person's loss.  Your classmates can be one of your greatest resources during and after school.  Treat them like colleagues, friends, mentors and resources.  Because that's what they are."

MBA Duke of the Day: Jennifer Kokochak

Innovation | Cohort 10


Jennifer Kokochak started her career as an elementary school teacher, but after a few years left education in the classroom to offer students the ability to learn outside of the classroom.  Jenn now works for WorldStrides, an educational travel company headquartered in Charlottesville, VA.

When we asked Jenn why she decided to pursue her MBA, her response was authentic and relatable.

"When I left education and began my career at WorldStrides, I had zero business experience. I told myself I would go back to school ‘someday’ in order to gain and develop more business knowledge.  ‘Someday’ turned into later.  ‘Later’ became ‘I don't want to spend the money.’ ‘I don't want to spend the money’ became ‘I don't have time’.  ‘I don't have time’ turned into ‘I'm not doing it, I am happy with my current position.’  Even after making that'final' decision, I always had the nagging reminder that I needed to develop my business intelligence and the desire to be able to advance my career.  In September 2018, six months after the death of my father, I was flying back to Virginia from visiting my mom. I was sad about leaving my mom, grieving over the loss of my dad, and I decided that I needed to do something for me, something that would distract me from my grief.  My next thought was ‘I'm going to get my MBA.’ Three weeks later I had decided on JMU and started the application process."

MBA Duke of the Day: Thacher DeStefano

Innovation | Cohort 10

Thacher DeStefano

Thacher received his undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science from Penn State. He is currently a Marketing Manager, Southern Crops; UPL NA.  UPL is a leader in global food systems and Thacher is responsible for marketing all their crop protection products involved with Rice, Cotton, Sugarcane, Peanuts, and Tobacco in North America. He attributes a big bit of his recent position to his decision to pursue his MBA,

“This program has done a lot for me. The most obvious I would say is it helped me to get my foot in the door at my new position at a new company. If it wasn't for being able to add an MBA candidate at JMU to my resume, I don't know for sure that experience alone would have helped me get an interview. The biggest thing though, honestly, it made me realize that I have unlimited potential.”

Thacher’s favorite part of the program is his cohort,

"The best part of this program is being able to be around a group of really quality people. It is amazing how talking with my cohort over the past two years has opened my mind to new ways of doing things and different perspectives. No doubt, this is the best part of the program; listening and learning from my classmates. I will also say that in my new marketing role if I had not taken some of the classes that I have in this MBA, I would have zero clue what is being talked about in meetings at times. I owe JMU a lot of props for that!"

Thacher is planning to graduate in May, and we’d like to congratulate him in advance! It’s students like Thacher that make JMU’s MBA programs so valuable and nationally recognized. Our programs are designed for working professionals who want to invest in themselves. We are honored that Thacher chose James Madison University for her Master’s in Business Administration.

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
  • FBI
  • U.S. Army
  • FEMA
  • UVA Health Systems
  • American Diabetes Association
  • University of Chicago
  • America's Charities

Back to Top