As a radiology technologist with the U.S. Air Force and now in the private sector, Christopher Ellis finds joy in helping others and the health care industry rewarding. He turned to Saint Leo University's online MBA in healthcare management for the preparation he needs to move into a management position.

Prince Jones wants to leverage a successful criminal justice career by combining it with an MBA with Cyber Security Management specialization.

Meanwhile, Ken McLain, with nearly 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, opted for Saint Leo's general MBA program to give him more options as he starts a second career.

When is the perfect time to start an MBA?

Just a few of the members of this year's MBA graduating class, these new Saint Leo alumni, all with seasoned careers, knew it wouldn't be easy to balance full-time jobs, family commitments and a rigorous MBA program. Yet, once the decision was carefully made, they persevered.

According to Saint Leo Senior Associate Director of Graduate Admissions Jennifer Sessa, for busy working adults, there's never an ideal time to start a graduate program. Now or later, it will require sacrifice and commitment.

"If you keep waiting for the perfect time, you'll never start," she says.

Congratulations to all 2015 Saint Leo MBA grads – for having the courage to start – and the dedication to complete – their degrees.

MBA – Health Care Management

Christopher Ellis

What's your current position?I work for North Florida Regional Medical Center as a radiology technologist. My primary responsibility involves performing diagnostic radiologic examinations.

What is your undergraduate degree in?Health care management.

Why did you decide to earn an MBA?I decided to pursue my MBA as a means of furthering my career within the medical sector to one day seek a position at the administrative level.

Why did you specialize in health care management?As a radiology technologist within the United States Air Force, I found that working in the hospital setting was where I needed to be. To me, the joy that comes from helping others is one of the most rewarding feelings there is. I knew that by seeking a degree in health care management, I would not only be able to provide my family with a stable income, but also continue doing what I believe in.

Why Saint Leo University?While on active duty with the United States Air Force, I knew that Saint Leo was a school I could rely on to always be there for my higher education needs due to their presence on most Air Force installations and online. In addition, being originally from Florida, Saint Leo had an established reputation of being one school that valued their students and afforded them the necessary tools to succeed in the business world.

Why did you choose an online program?With both my wife and I working full-time jobs while also raising two small children, I knew my ability to seek my education in the classroom setting would be near impossible. As a result, I found that through Saint Leo's online program, I was better able to obtain my degree without compromising my role as a husband and father.

What was your favorite aspect of the program?I found Saint Leo University's online MBA program to be not only fulfilling academically, but also allowed me to work around my wife and children's schedules.

What sacrifices did you make to complete the program?Time away from my family was possibly the hardest obstacle I faced, but with their love and support, I was able to succeed in my educational goals.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?Becoming knowledgeable about the business side of the hospital has allowed me to gain more respect for my superiors by understanding their responsibilities associated with supplies, equipment, and labor.

What was your most difficult challenge?Planning family time around my full-time employment and graduate school. Committing between 20 to 25 hours per week toward my graduate program created the sense of a part-time job in addition to my already 40-hour-per-week full-time job.

Why is an MBA degree worth the time and financial investment?In today's business environment, employees and leaders are forced to make themselves more marketable due to the highly competitive nature of business. What used to only require a bachelor's degree to remain ahead of the competition now requires an MBA and even a doctoral degree. Although the program took a large amount of personal time and finances, I believe Saint Leo has helped me become better positioned to compete in this highly competitive world.

MBA - Cyber Security Management

Prince Jones

What's your current position?I work for the State of Florida. I am responsible for processing new offenders and placing their information into the database. I am also responsible for disseminating their criminal history to the supervising authority

What is your undergraduate degree in?The first undergraduate degree I obtained was in liberal arts. I attended Saint Leo on the MacDill Campus. After working in law enforcement, I decided to move forward and earn my undergrad in criminal justice.

Why did you decide to earn an MBA in information security management?After being injured on the job, I enrolled in a certification courses in the computer realm. I believed this would provide the skills to meet the technology need that had become a new area of opportunity. I decided to specialize in cyber security management because it made perfect sense to merge all of my background and expertise so that I could offer a complete package to an employer.

Why Saint Leo University?As a member of the Armed Forces, I chose Saint Leo initially because the university accepted courses from different military installations. Saint Leo helped merge these courses and provided me with the counseling I needed to set a path for success.

Why did you choose an online program?After my undergrad, I chose to complete my degree online with Saint Leo because the university best helps prepare an individual for the outside world. They did not just jump on the online bandwagon, but were one of the first accredited universities to implement it.

What was your favorite aspect of the program?Learning how to obtain information that is needed to be successful. Many people believe that they know how to be a manager based on their interactions with management; but this may not always be the case. Saint Leo provided the business and managerial knowledge that is required in a fast-paced environment. They thoroughly prepare a student for the real world.

What sacrifices did you make to complete the program?The sacrifices were financial to some extent. Plus, you may have to give up a lifestyle (in terms of free time) in order to meet Saint Leo's high academic standards. At the end of the program, I believe those sacrifices are worth it.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?I entered the program to eventually venture out on my own. I believe Saint Leo provided the tools that will help my business succeed.

What was your most difficult challenge?Time management was the most difficult challenge. Balancing the combination of work, home, and social life was very difficult.

Has it been worth the time and financial investment?The MBA program is worth the financial investment if one believes in oneself. The world as we know it is changing, and in order to adapt to that change, we as individuals need to change along with it.


Ken McLain

What's your current position?I've worked for Nationwide Insurance for 28 years. I'm currently director, Personal Lines Casualty Claims. I'm responsible for the leadership and management of approximately 160 associates (managers and claim representatives) who handle liability and medical payment claims for a seven-state geographical area.

What is your undergraduate degree in?I have a bachelor of science in political science.

Why did you decide to earn an MBA?Prior to obtaining my MBA, the majority of my professional development was in technical programs and certifications directed toward insurance. I elected to pursue an MBA to address three critical components of my leadership and business knowledge: to increase my analytical skills, to enhance my communication skills, and to broaden my general management knowledge and skill set.

I selected the MBA track for the broad overview it provides and the manner it which it compliments my career experience in the insurance industry.

Why Saint Leo University?Because of the university's reputation and its relationship with the military. The latter was of particular interest since I am a veteran.

Why did you choose an online program?For flexibility and convenience due to my work and travel .

What was your favorite aspect of the program?I enjoyed the weekly discussions with my classmates. The format allowed me to meet a wide range of people, exposing me to various views.

What sacrifices did you make to complete the program?The biggest sacrifice was time (evenings and weekends). I learned early in the program that I had to dedicate myself to a study schedule if I was to succeed and receive the full benefit of the instruction. Fortunately, my wife, Jena, and I are empty nesters; Jena was supportive and understood the need to commit the time and energy for the degree.

How relevant was your coursework to your job?Very relevant. I have applied various aspects of the 12 courses to my job. The most prominent are the lessons from the Applied Decision Support Systems class. One of my duties is project management and the piloting of potential new workflows. The forecasting and project management aspects of the class have served me well, expanding my knowledge and observations.

What was your most difficult challenge?The greatest challenge for me was the capstone course - MBA 599 Strategic Management. It was intense and demanding, utilizing lessons from the prior 11 classes. The professor, Dr. Reeley, was outstanding, offering support with the expectation of the student submitting a final product worthy of an individual with an MBA.

Why is an MBA degree worth the time and financial investment?I pursued an MBA for two reasons: First, it was a personal goal. I had always wanted to obtain my MBA; however, it was sidelined by life events - raising a child, pursuing my career, etc. Second, for the opportunity it would give me. I am 54 and I'm entertaining a career change in the next year or two. I believe the degree along, with my prior management experience, provides the prospect for me to pursue a second career after my retirement.

What's your reason for wanting to earn an MBA?

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

Accelerated MBA Online: A Faster Degree Path

Accelerated MBA: What's The Key To Success?

The Real Truth About Graduate School [Interview]

Online MBA Programs: Are They Worth It?

Image Credits: J. Henning Buchholz and courtesy 2015 MBA graduates