Once an Islander, always an Islander.
Corpus Christi native Becca Taylor graduated from the online Master of Business Administration program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in December 2019. She initially enrolled nearly five years earlier.
"I only completed one semester and one class before I found out I was expecting our third child and would be moving back to Texas from California," she said. "So, given all of the craziness, I put graduate school on hold — a long hold."
In July 2018, Taylor received a text message from her friend, Benaia Stowell, who encouraged her to enroll in the MBA program with him.
"He said that we should go back to school together and it could be fun to go through the process with a partner — and we did!" she said. "I began attending classes again with one MBA class under my belt."
Taylor switched back to the online format one semester after she enrolled in the on-campus program, partly because she had just started a new job as director of public relations at Stellar Energy Solutions.
Plus, she wanted to have more time for her husband, Jeremy, a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy, and their children — Bella (12), Maddy (10) and Dominic (4).
"I wanted to be able to complete my assignments on my own time," Taylor said. "With a new job and three kids, I needed to be able to work when I was able to find the time.
"Once I made the switch, it was much better with our schedules. Between my three kids doing school activities, sports and theater, online classes gave me the freedom to not miss the moments."
Coast to Coast
Taylor was initially interested in a career in human resources and took a few courses at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi straight out of high school. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration and management with a minor in human resources from San Antonio-based University of the Incarnate Word in 2014.
"I loved recruiting and learning about employment law but, once I graduated, I could not find a job because I had no experience in HR," she said. "After being a stay-at-home-mom for nearly six years, most of my volunteer experience was in fundraising. Once employers saw my resume, I was only getting call backs for fundraising and development jobs."
The good news was that Taylor developed an affinity for marketing through fundraising. She started a new position as marketing and development manager at Harbor Playhouse in August 2019.
"My ultimate career goal is to be able to make a difference in my community any way that I can," she said. "I believe that the position I have now is one that I can grow in and hopefully be in for years to come."
Although Taylor lived in California when she first started the online MBA program, she knew that she wanted to earn a degree from her home state. She also tapped her husband's GI Bill benefits to help pay for tuition.
"It was important to me to get my MBA from a college in Texas," she said. "I couldn't imagine getting my MBA from anywhere but a Texas school. I was extremely excited to come back and get my graduate degree where I started my college journey."
MGMT 5320: Organizational Behavior and Theory, taught by Dr. Katherine Roberto, was Taylor's favorite course in the online MBA curriculum.
"She had this way of engaging all of her students and giving us work and examples that revolved around real-life situations that most of us face in our professional lives," she said. "Since I started, I have been able to see things from a different perspective.
"I feel more confident when it comes to making managerial decisions, and I look at problems in a whole new light. I love being able to read people and figure out what makes them work and how I need to engage with them to bring out their best."
Riding the Wave
Taylor is the first person in her immediate family to earn a graduate degree. She capped her full-circle journey to that accomplishment by walking in the commencement ceremony.
"While everyone was supportive, they all thought I was crazy for going back," she said. "I would not have missed graduation for the world."
Although Taylor said that the graduate degree has already opened the door to new career opportunities, she is thrilled with her current role at Harbor Playhouse, a community theatre that has existed for 94 years.
"I politely let people know I am not looking to make a change right now," she said. "I am being mentored for bigger and better things in the years to come."
After completing the online MBA program in just 12 months, Taylor believes it's important for anybody considering an online degree to do extensive research before choosing a university.
"There are so many resources available to you when it comes to choosing a school and a program," she said. "Also, never hesitate to ask for help and reach out to your graders and/or professors. Even though they don't know you personally, they are still all committed to your success and are ready and willing to help."
Now that Taylor is back in Corpus Christi with a graduate degree, the ideal job, and a happy family, she is thrilled that her friend, who is also in a military family, urged her to finish what she started. She and Stowell graduated together.
"I got good value out of the program," she said. "It is something I will carry with me for as long as I am working and beyond. Overall, I learned that you never stop learning and growing in business. I like that."
Learn more about the TAMU-CC online MBA program.
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