Commissioner of an NCAA Division II athletic conference, the South Atlantic Conference, Patrick Britz has been working in college athletic administration for more than 20 years. For him, earning an MBA in sport business completes a personal goal he started some time ago.

For Stephanie Reitz, earning an MBA has enabled her to move her career with Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts in a new direction – and to find an unexpected passion for human resources management.

Both Colleen Stevens and Nicole Kelton attribute promotions into leadership positions within their current organizations to earning MBA degrees.

Whether their reasons for embarking on online MBA degree programs was to fulfill personal ambitions, to run their own businesses, or to advance in their current organizations, members of Saint Leo University's Class of 2014 are reaping the benefits of their hard work and dedication.

And they're not alone.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review Blog about findings from this year's alumni survey, Gregg Schonenfeld, director for survey research at the Graduate Management Admission Council, says:

"Holders of MBA and other graduate business degrees overwhelmingly feel they are better off having earned the degree. The skills, experience, and networks gained during business school yield returns regardless of the job market at graduation and may be even more valuable in a tight job market."

In this post, these Saint Leo alumni – and others – share their reasons for starting on online MBA degree program and the effect it has had on their careers.

Congratulations to all 2014 Saint Leo MBA grads!


Kristofer Menez

What's your current position?I work for Markel Corporation in Las Vegas as an infrastructure administrator. I am part of a team of administrators and engineers who manage the company's information systems and provide end-user training and support.

What is your undergraduate degree in?I have a bachelor of fine arts in computer art & design with a concentration in animation from Jacksonville University, and a bachelor of science in computer information systems from Saint Leo.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?Earning my degree online granted me a high degree of flexibility in terms of when and where I could learn and complete my assignments. I didn't have to rush at the end of the workday to beat traffic so I could make it to class on time, nor did I have to decide between missing class and rescheduling a business trip. It also provided me with a more affordable option than enrolling into a traditional MBA program. With a traditional, on-campus program, I would have had to put my career on hold for two years while I earned the degree. Pursuing the degree online allowed me to continue working at Markel. I was able to continue to grow professionally in the corporate environment, all while applying what I was learning online to my job every day.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?My coursework was extremely relevant to my job in information technology. One of the great things about being in the IT department is how I am able to work cross functionally with all other departments. Thanks to my coursework, I had an in-depth knowledge of how and why departments are dependent on one another. The knowledge I acquired from my coursework allowed me to empathize with my users on a much deeper level and played a major role in solving problems and improving processes. I felt a greater sense of ownership, not just in the IT department, but in the success of each department and the entire company as a whole.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?I would like to make a career change into finance and someday become a senior executive of a large company. An MBA is ideal for going into management because of the degree covers every aspect of running a business. Understanding a company's organizational structure, processes, people, industry, etc., is critical to being able to see the business's true potential and value. Further, this kind of intimate knowledge of a business can help turn a good manager or leader into a great manager or leader.

MBA - Sport Business

Patrick Britz

What's your current position?I'm Commissioner of the South Atlantic Conference here in South Carolina and oversee all facets (championships, compliance, marketing/promotions, awards, officiating, etc.) of an NCAA Division II athletic conference.

What is your undergraduate degree in?Economics with an emphasis on finance.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?I originally started to get my master's in sports and recreation administration in 1996 from East Tennessee State when I was working there. After about four or five classes, I got a job with the NCAA in the Kansas City area, so I had to put the degree on hold because there were no online or distance learning options at that time.

For one reason or another, I never was able to start again until January 2012 when I started at a local university going the traditional route (i.e. not online). After I completed my second class, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our second child. We already had an eight-month old at the time, so I switched to an online program because it was better for my schedule.

In addition, Saint Leo's MBA with a Sport Business concentration was perfect for me because my more than 20-year professional career has been in college athletic administration.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?The majority of the courses were very relevant to my job. For example, the Sports Marketing course was a big benefit as it helped me revise some marketing efforts we do for our conference championships. In addition, the Human Resource Management course helped me revise some of our policies regarding employment in my office.

MBA - Human Resources Management & Marketing

Zelcha Maxwell

What's your current position?I'm a site manager for Marion County Public Schools. I supervise and coordinate before and aftercare operations at Hammett Bowen Elementary. I prepare and implement lessons plans, handle resource and team management, keep financial records and data analysis, including payroll time sheets and labor hours, invoices, bank deposits and reconciliation, and other financial reports as mandated by the school district.

What is your undergraduate degree in?Psychology with a minor in business.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?My work schedule is not traditional, meaning that I have a split schedule and my day is stretched from 6:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. with a three hour break. Therefore, it was hard for me to schedule classes that coincide with my break, in addition to doing homework and family life

How relevant was your coursework in two concentrations – marketing and human resources – to your job?I have used my marketing knowledge to help promote my program and generate higher enrollment. I also assist our HR department in translating and carrying out regulations, policies, and procedures.

Most of all, the MBA program as inspired me to start a credit restoration company called Pro-Active Credit Solutions. My business partners and I are piggybacking off a parent company that's been in business for over 17 years. We've been in operation for about a year, and business is gradually building. Never would I have thought that I would have switched from psychology to business; however, it's been a blessing and an honor to have been inspired to stretch my wings thanks to Saint Leo University.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?As I come to a close in my degree, I realized that I would like to continue to build my business and eventually teach at a university.

MBA - Human Resources

Stephanie Reitz

What's your current position?I work at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Fla. as a human resources generalist. I handle recruitment, new hire orientation and processing, benefits administration, employee relations, and all HR administrative functions for the Straz Center.

What is your undergraduate degree in?Bachelor of science in arts management.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?Working full time would not allow me to attend in-person classes. I used that as an excuse many years. Finally, at 36-years-old, I put an end to the excuses and decided to find an online program that would deliver a solid education with the convenience I needed to succeed. It was the only option for me. If online study was not available, I would never have considered going back to school.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?Professionally, the knowledge I have gained through my coursework at Saint Leo University has been invaluable. It has allowed me to grow into my position and has provided my organization with a new, innovative outlook that may not have been there before. I have expanded my ability to be an asset within the department and feel that I am truly contributing to the success of the organization.

The research, in-depth analysis and writing throughout the MBA program were extremely useful. It allowed the application of my newly gained knowledge directly to the job. It provided my organization beneficial, up-to date knowledge and resources that they were not using.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?My career goals have changed over the years. After more than seven years in the business and operations side of the performing arts, I found that my passion fell into the area of human resources. My experience, combined with the strategic direction in which the human resource field is heading, is a recipe for success for me.

Gaining my MBA with a specialization in human resources has already paid off. I was able to move into the HR department of my company where I have been able to contribute my institutional knowledge and apply my education practically. It has been an amazing experience. My future holds great promise as I continue to build on the knowledge that I have gained from my MBA and continue to grow professionally. I was given the tools, now I have the opportunity to build something.

MBA - Cyber Security Management

Ainsworth Alexander

What's your current position?I work for Infornic Information Technologies, Inc. as an information technology consultant.

What is your undergraduate degree in?Bachelor of science in computer information systems.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?Convenience – being able to study when and where fits my personal schedule.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?My MBA coursework in information security management coupled with my recent work experiences have seasoned my perspective and methodologies while consolidating my awareness of the common and basic requirement of confidentially. Firsthand experience and understanding of the importance of the confidentially of business data continues to be further cultivated in my other roles of responsibility as an IT consultant, and most recently as chief information officer.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?I plan to continue to develop as a technical and executive manager with a personal concern for providing and protecting confidentiality.

MBA - Accounting

Colleen Stevens

What's your current position?I work for an online provider of continuing education offered to architects, engineers and contractors as the accreditations lead. I help to ensure that all courses offered are accredited and approved by the proper state or organizational board and are renewed in a timely manner.

What is your undergraduate degree in?Biomedical sciences with a minor in public health.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?I like the convenience and ability to learn at my own pace.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?Because of my specialization in accounting, I was brought into my department in a leadership role to handle all expenses and have the potential now to advance to director of the department.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?I would like to own my own business someday and wanted to make sure I had the business acumen along with the ability to control finances in a responsible manner. I also would like to continue to grow with my current employer, to take on roles with greater responsibility, and having accounting knowledge will be very helpful.


Nicole Kelton

What's your current position?I work for the University of Florida; Department of Orthopaedics & Sports Rehabilitation as the senior accountant and marketing coordinator. I am responsible for all accounts payable and accounts receivable, vendor maintenance, marketing of services and events, high school athletic sponsorship and trainings, and various other accounting tasks.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?I work full time, as well as have a small pet-sitting business that requires travel; therefore, my time is limited. I did not want to stop working and online offered me the flexibility to work both jobs, as well as spend time with family and friends, while obtaining my MBA.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?The coursework sometimes seemed to be developed just for my position and what I am working towards. This year, I was able to use the financial techniques learned in various classes for budgets, audits, and financial reports. I was able to use my human resources training to assist in the hiring of an assistant. Overall, I find myself using the knowledge I have learned through my coursework on a daily basis.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?I am being promoted in July to the coordinator of accounting for my department, which is a three level step-up. Without the MBA, I would not have even been considered for this position since it requires a graduate-level degree. I am now in a position to move to department director within four years.

MBA - Health Care Management

Jeff James

What's your current position?

I work for JHS Capital Advisors, LLC, a brokerage firm located in Tampa as a financial advisor support team associate. I am on the front line for supporting advisers and their staff with problems and basic training of systems.

What is your undergraduate degree in?I was an English major with a U.S. Army ROTC minor.

Why did you choose an online MBA program?I chose the online program because of the shortened term lengths – an important factor when one is in his 50's.

What are your career goals and how will an MBA will help you reach them?I chose (to specialize in) healthcare administration for a couple of reasons. First, I believe we all should serve our fellow citizens, which I first did as an officer in the U.S. Army. Second, in Florida, healthcare is an industry which should not face job downturns. Lastly, with the MBA, I should be able to better meet personal financial retirement goals. I am not, yet in the healthcare industry, but the degree should help me find better opportunities than the financial industry does in Florida.

Congratulations to all Saint Leo Class of 2014 MBA grads! Well done!

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

Do Graduate Degrees Pay Off?

Former Navy SEAL Chooses Saint Leo For Online MBA Degree

Online MBA Degrees? Are They Worth It?

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