KENNESAW, Georgia (January 28, 2022) — When LaRell Reynolds began his graduate education in August 2019, he hoped to complement his journalism career with insight and expertise in business. But his experience at Kennesaw State University WebMBA Program changed his mind.
During an internship at USAA Marketing, Reynolds said he saw how he could leverage his MBA experience and still flex his creative muscles in a career field he enjoys.
He said he loves the flexibility KSU’s online program gives him, which allows him to balance his education with a busy journalism career and experience little disruption as the pandemic begins. Reynolds also said the faculty’s work experience is evident, with lessons learned from their personal moments of success and challenges.
“The whole experience made me realize that I could enjoy a career in business,” he said.
And the KSU MBA program in the Michael J. Coles School of Businesswhich was recognized multiple times delivered as one of the best in the nation and around the world, he added. After graduating that summer, Reynolds got a job in Philadelphia in JP Morgan Chase’s Chase Associate Program. He will rotate through various roles within the company and work full-time before rising to Vice President.
Reynolds said when he first started looking for business opportunities, he found himself in competition with students from top schools, including Ivy League universities. But with his experience from the KSU degree, he said he could compete with the best.
“These MBA programs open the door. Companies are looking for employees during the time they want to transition, and they want to attract as much talent as possible,” Reynolds said. “KSU was great because I could use it as it was an affordable program with the flexibility and then focus on doing something that’s fun and interesting.”
‘I received a return on my investment almost immediately’
Sonia Bell, an MBA graduate in July, said she took part in the program to ensure her skills could keep up with the need to balance multiple projects and learn financial management, analytics and operations management throughout her career .
The program paid off for her before it was even over, she said.
Bell received a promotion in her place, overseeing the business side of Emory University’s many projects to combat the spread of harmful diseases while still taking classes. Then, just months later and after graduating, Bell accepted a position at the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Ga CORE), as Vice President for Administration.
“I saw a return on my investment in my education almost immediately,” Bell said.
And like Reynolds, Bell said the business experience of Kennesaw State faculty members – from owning small businesses to their successful careers in America’s corporations – has informed their teachings both personally and academically.
“A great asset for me”
Zandro Zaragoza, also an MBA graduate in July, was promoted from a business analyst job to a project manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional upon graduation.
Zaragoza launched a dual study program in 2018 that combines a master’s degree in business informatics with an MBA. He took a break in 2019 and graduated in 2021. He said he chose Kennesaw State because of its reputation, affordability and ability to provide new career opportunities.
“I thought it would be a great asset for me,” he said. “I wanted to move into more of a business and leadership role.”
Zaragoza said he was surprised some of the misconceptions he had about going back to school were wrong, realizing he was in class with students of different ages and from different industries. It was this breadth of backgrounds and skill sets that he said made the program aligned with the goals he had for his career.
“Overall, the program has really helped me improve my knowledge of the 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.”
A red thread for success
Dennis Marrow, executive director of the MBA program, said reports of alumni being promoted and given new jobs shortly after graduation are common.
He said the experiences of Bell, Reynolds and Zaragoza mirror what many Kennesaw State MBA students experience, often even before graduation — the realization of career goals. These results are rewarding for the Coles College of Business MBA faculty, he said.
“Because our students are able to immediately apply newly acquired knowledge to practice in their job, the vast majority of KSU MBA students achieve some level of their desired outcome well before graduation,” said Marrow. “The true seal of approval KSU MBA reach our students during and after their studies. The success of our graduates is our success.”
– Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Jason Getz
Kennesaw State University is a leader in innovative teaching and learning, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two campuses in the Atlanta metro area, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global connections and entrepreneurial spirit attract students from across the country and around the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated graduate (R2) research institution, placing it in an elite group of just 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with R1 or R2 status. For more information visit kennesaw.edu.