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Online MBA Student in National Guard Passes PMP Exam on First Try

Learn how Saint Leo University’s online MBA in project management helped a student in the Florida Army National Guard pass a challenging certification exam on her first attempt.

A photo of Stephanie Demorest, a current Saint Leo University online MBA student specializing in project management, wearing her Florida Army National Guard uniform for her command photo

Stephanie Demorest, a Saint Leo University graduate student working toward an online MBA with a project management specialization, recently passed the PMP Exam on her first attempt. She is confident that her coursework in the graduate business degree program prepared her for success on this challenging project management certification exam and has given her practical skills she has already applied to her role in the Florida Army National Guard. Let’s learn a little more about the 34-year-old resident of Tallahassee, FL in this Q&A.

Q: Where are you from and what is your educational background?

A: Growing up, I was a ‘military brat’ and moved around quite a bit. I’ve been in Florida since 2005 and attended the University of Tampa for my undergrad where I earned a bachelor’s in marine science biology in 2009. I also completed the ROTC program there.

Q: What inspired you to join the Florida Army National Guard?

A: I’ve always had a strong passion for leadership and service. The National Guard has great education benefits and lots of unique opportunities to serve. My dad also served in the U.S. Air Force for 24 years. I joined in 2008 and commissioned through the ROTC program in 2009.

Q: What are your title, rank, and job duties?

A: I am a captain and I work as a logistics officer. I work at the Army National Guard Armory in Tallahassee where I provide logistics support for an engineer unit. I make sure my unit has the proper resources it needs to accomplish whatever missions they face. I describe myself to my civilian friends as an ‘Army mom.’

Q: What inspired you to enroll in Saint Leo University’s online MBA program with the project management specialization?

A: I knew I wanted to get a project management degree. It’s so applicable to my military role and will help me progress as a manager and leader. I have had friends attend Saint Leo and heard it was very military friendly. The core values also resonate with me, especially responsible stewardship. Plus, my husband is a Detroit Lions fan and Saint Leo’s athletic teams are the Lions, so it kind of fit well with that too.

Q: When did you start the program and what has your experience been like?

A: I started in the summer of 2018. I took three classes to start off with but then had to take a break for some personal reasons and started back up in the summer of 2020.

The flexibility of the program has been really nice. Saint Leo University has truly set me up for success and all of my professors have been very helpful and accommodating to my needs.

Q: How has the format of the online MBA program worked for you?

A: All of my classes have been super easy to access and navigate. The professors are also very receptive and responsive to my questions. My husband tried an online program through another university but could never get in contact with anyone, so I’m so glad to be in such a student-focused degree program.

Q: Have any specific Saint Leo professors stood out to you?

A: I’ve taken three project management classes with Dr. Robert Brown. When I passed the PMP Exam on my first attempt, I immediately emailed him to let him know how much his classes helped me accomplish this.

I also took an economics class with Dr. Patrick Murphy. I reached out to him before the class started and told him I was a little nervous about the class. He provided me with ample support and I got an ‘A’ in the course.

Q: What was it like taking the PMP Exam and how did you feel upon completing it?

A: For the PMP Exam, you get about four hours to complete 180 multiple-choice questions. You can take it up to three times.

When I was finished and clicked on the ‘submit’ button at the end, it gave me the results right away. It said that I had gotten an above-average score on all three sections of the exam. I honestly shed a little tear in my cubicle. I spent a lot of time prepping for the test and felt a huge relief seeing that I passed on the first try. I’ve known several people who’ve needed all three tries.

Q: How else has the MBA curriculum benefited you?

A: I’ve really enjoyed learning so many skills in the MBA program. They have directly benefited me in my current position.

This past summer, my unit went to Albania for five weeks as part of an exercise called Defender-Europe 21. I had to manage 200 pieces of equipment that had to be shipped out of different countries and coordinate sustainment for my units in the country. A lot of the project management skills I’ve learned helped me with this project. Overall, the project management specialization has given me the tools to help make my unit run more efficiently. I would encourage all officers to go on for an MBA because it will be a huge help in your career.

Q: What are your future goals?

A: After my MBA program, I plan to do more mandatory military courses and would like to get my Six Sigma certification.

My career goal is to become a colonel. The education and skills I’m learning from Saint Leo will undoubtedly help me in my military career and within the civilian sector when I retire.

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog article was provided by Stephanie Demorest and is used with permission.

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