Recognizing Academic and Civil Excellence
Every year, California State University, Monterey Bay recognizes a student in the Online MBA program who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to both their education and community. The 2017 Outstanding Master of Business Administration Graduate Award has been given to Jose Garcia, who will be honored at the 10th annual College of Business Showcase.
Jose, who was born in Mexico and moved to Monterey County, California when he was two, graduated magna cum laude from CSUMB’s Humanities and Communications program in 2011. Afterwards, he transitioned into the banking industry, where he learned his love of business.
When he decided to pursue his Online MBA, Jose opted to study in an online program, because it allowed him the flexibility to learn on his own time. With his master’s degree under his belt, Jose plans to go on to big things in the business world, with the goal of entering a leadership position.
We were able to speak with Jose about his experience in our Online MBA program—what inspired him to attend, how he was able to succeed and much more.
1. What made you decide to pursue an MBA degree?
The decision to pursue my MBA was made when I realized that I needed a graduate-level degree in order to further my career. As I mentioned in my biography, I have a background in banking, but I wanted to step beyond banking and work in operations, marketing, or even finance and accounting for an organization.
My ultimate goal is to be at the executive level of an organization; as such, deep inside I knew the MBA is an absolutely essential step toward achieving this goal.
2. Why did you decide to pursue online learning? What do you like about CSUMB's Online MBA program?
The decision to pursue an education online was made purely for the convenience factor online learning brings. Unlike the position I was in as an undergrad, time became the biggest issue hindering my way toward achieving my MBA. Given this, I needed a program that was flexible, which is where online learning came into the picture. Pursuing my degree online allowed me to maintain my employment and, in fact, advance to new positions, all while pursuing my MBA degree.
I decided upon CSUMB’s Online MBA program because I completed my bachelor’s at CSUMB, and I really enjoyed my experience at the school itself. On top of that, the campus is located about an hour’s drive from my home, so it felt great to know that I can physically be present on the school grounds if need be.
3. Do you feel the same way about online education now as you did when you were first considering it?
My perceptions of online learning have certainly changed since I was first considering pursing my MBA. In the beginning, I was nervous about the fact that I had never done any courses online prior. On top of that, during my undergraduate career, I majored in the humanities, so I was not sure how my abilities measured in the field of business.
However, upon fully embracing my studies and learning just how the online environment operated, I found online learning to have greater value and enjoyment than I originally had perceived. The key to this change of heart was in the fact that CSUMB made the Online MBA program highly interactive with plenty of sources of communication, both between students and staff. The interactions I had between my peers made the online experience highly enjoyable and memorable, which is something that I truly was not expecting upon first considering the program.
Obviously you have built some great relationships at CSUMB. How do you feel about being honored for this award and what does it mean to you?
For me, this award reinforces the fact that hard work truly does pay off. One can never be sure of their capacity until they allow themselves to embrace difficult challenges and work hard, dedicating themselves to complete said challenges. This was my story.
When I first began the MBA program, I was unsure about my abilities to be able to complete this program. I had doubts and insecurities, which were reinforced by the fact that I was the youngest of my peers and in some cases, the most inexperienced of my peers.
However, during the program, I began to grow. I dedicated my life to earning my MBA, and my peers recognized this. I was elected Class Manager during my second semester of the MBA program and every semester thereafter.
At first, I could not believe how far I had come and how much further I had to go, but I fought on. I persevered and I gave every assignment everything I had to offer. And if I ever felt like I was falling short, I would ask myself, “What do I need to be like in order to achieve this knowledge?” Not once did I think about giving up; on the contrary, I braced myself for the road ahead.
This award reinforces the notion that when we truly work hard at something, when we truly dedicated ourselves to our goals and our dreams, there is nothing that can hold us back. Deep inside of me I have always known my potential. Growing up, my mother would always tell me, “Son, you are meant for great things.” This award is yet another step in that direction.
4. What has earning a master’s from CSUMB truly meant to you?
To follow up on my previous response, earning my master’s degree from CSUMB to me means that I have grown. I have changed as a person. The Jose Garcia that walked on the CSUMB campus (or, in this case, signed in online) is not the same Jose Garcia that walks out of the CSUMB campus.
To me, education is not about how many certificates we can hang on the walls of our offices—it’s about the experiences we gain and grow from as we are pursuing our degree. The great author Junot Diaz once said something along the lines of, When we walk off the stage at graduation, some of us will walk off the stage with a piece of paper that says their name on it; others, however, will walk down that stage as a new person.
Completing my master’s degree has transformed me, and I can honestly say that I am deserving of the title Master of Business Administration.
5. After you graduate with your MBA, what excites you about the future? What are your plans?
Upon completing my MBA program, the most exciting part of my future are the opportunities I can now pursue. I feel that my MBA will open many doors to potential job offers that I will be extremely interested in. Like I said, I have worked in banking for over 10 years, and I would like to experience different aspects of business. I would really like to focus on operations, management, marketing, and even some parts of finance and accounting.
As far as my plans go, I would like to continue teaching for a couple of years. There are different aspects of this career that I have yet to completely fulfill. Namely, I would like to finish classes with my current students, and I would like to finish developing the academic programs I have in place so that the next instructor can simply pick up where I leave off.
After doing so, my plans are to move to a bigger city where I could take advantage of potential job listings, which is where I will strive to obtain a job in the fields I have mentioned.
However, at the same time, I am open to potential job opportunities that may arise in my own local community. With all of this said and done, I do recognize that my MBA is a positive step in my career, and now I must acquire the essential experience I need to one day move up the executive ladder.
6. What advice would you give to students who are looking to pursue their MBA online?
By far, the biggest piece of advice I can offer anyone wishing to pursue an MBA online is, plan your time wisely. Organization and time management are the focal points of success, while procrastination can easily lead to one’s demise. It is extremely easy to fall into the trap of simply “completing the assignments.” What I mean is, it becomes obvious who is truly giving the coursework their all and who is just getting by.
An MBA is like any degree or journey in life one wishes to pursue—I used to be a personal trainer, and I would tell all of my clients the same thing: It’s not about simply focusing on the endgame; it’s about focusing on the road one takes to get to the end. The journey is where one will find the most value. The end is different for everyone. One can either graduate with an MBA or as an MBA, and it is the road we take to get there that decides where we will stand.