Category Archives: Carol Ann

Saying Goodbye…

Well, at last the semester is wrapping up and this will be the last one for me.  I have enjoyed my time at Elon, and in this program, and will miss it greatly.  But at the same time, I am looking forward to many new adventures and experiences.

For those that have never experienced what it is like to be an adult learner, I can’t say enough about the sense of accomplishment you get when you go back to school.  I think the richness of the program is that all of us are adult learners and have a unique perspective, because of our diversity and personal experiences.

You will have classmates that juggle many of the same responsibilities as you – work, family, civic activities, etc.  You will also find students that are in a different place – maybe taking a year or two off to get through the MBA program.  Each one has a unique perspective to offer.  Take advantage of this opportunity to get to know them, learn what they can offer you, and make the most of every interaction you have with other students.

Take this time and make the most of it  . . . it will go by much quicker than you think.

Carol Ann

Graduation Gift

Ok, my finance final is tomorrow.  Whew, another semester under the belt, and looking towards the winter session.

While I’m feeling a bit of panic, as finance, and math in general, is not my strong suit, this class has been great in that I now can actually read a prospectus.  For those that know me, that is amazing.  I’ve always used those for fire starters in the fire pit.  I thought that was what they were for, since there is no way anyone could make sense of those, right?  Well, I’ve proven that theory wrong.  It is empowering to spend 10 weeks in a class and realize that you too can hold a conversation with a stock broker and not feel like an idiot.

Suddenly, I have a lot of questions, and want answers; because this is my life I am talking about here.  What I learned in this class will help me in the future.  When I’m 58 years old and wondering how I am going to retire early, I’m going to be able to look back and know I made the right decisions.  At least I know the truth now, even if I don’t know the future.

This was the semester of change.  In my group we had members that experienced a new business launch, a pregnancy and the loss of a father – a challenge for each member.  But here is the great part about all those setbacks – we made it!

It was something like “You can’t do the homework because of your work responsibilities, so I’ll do that, you just help me when we get to the project” or “I am away and can’t finish the stats part of the paper, can you do my part and I’ll work on the summary?”

Your Elon family rallies around and supports you through all of it – big or small.

The fact that graduation is just five months (and 3.5 classes) away is a bit scary.  When I started, I thought it was a long way off, and I knew I would finish, but it seemed like it was forever away.  Now it’s here on my doorstep.  You can’t imagine how that feels.  And it seems like I just started.

Mom and Dad are excited, and just want to see their daughter walk that stage.  It is the greatest gift I can ever give them.  They missed my undergraduate ceremony, so this one means more than ever. My only regret is that my Mama and Papa T are dead now, and will not be there.  But I am sure they will be there too, just not taking up a seat.  I can’t wait to give my parents what they deserved to have had all those years ago.

And the bonus this time is that my niece and nephew, and my grandchildren will be able to see what it means to apply yourself, set your goals, and achieve them.  This is the best graduation gift I could ever receive– sharing in the moment with those you love, and inspiring them to go on and really make the most of their opportunities

It’s that time again . . .

Well, it is that time again – time to get back into the swing of things.  Just like children, we are back in the classroom again.  The only difference is that most of us don’t have Trapper Keepers and new lunchboxes each fall.

Earlier this week I filled out my graduation paperwork.  I can’t adequately describe what that feels like.  The exercise of actually putting pen to paper and telling yourself – this is it.  I was lucky, three of my good friends, and cohorts, were there with me.  It felt like we were moving from one stage of life to another, together.

I know I keep hyping the how valuable the Elon MBA is in terms of the relationships your develop, but it is worth repeating.  My cohorts, and those of later cohorts, are so meshed together in this venture, that I think it is critical to examine how important that can be in creating a true ‘team’ (although I prefer to call it my ‘Elon family’).

My Elon family includes graduates of the program, current students, and future students.  I think I have learned as much from the students as I’ve learned from the faculty.  The opportunity to talk to your classmates, and bounce ideas off of them, is just as valuable as the theory and application you learn through the various projects, examinations and presentations that you do in the classroom.

If I’m having a rough day at work, or with schoolwork, I know that I can email Jackie, Julie, Melody, Jason and Jake and tell them, “Hey, I’m drowning here and need help.’, and I know that within minutes I’ll hear “Call me and we can talk.”, or “Have you tried ____.”, “Hang in there and we can talk tonight.”, or “What can I do to help?”  This unbridled support and encouragement is what you could only expect from family.

The Elon family rallies around their members – supporting one another in anything they do, providing advice and encouraging each other.  From professors, to students, to alumni, you can always count on them to support you and your dreams, and know that they will always be cheering for you on the sidelines.

And if it makes you feel better, buy a Trapper Keeper (I have one) and lunchbox to make it feel like a brand new start each year!

The Home Stretch

Two years after starting the Elon MBA program I am sliding into home plate!  As a career track student, I’ve always been focused on the value of the experience, and not so focused on getting to the end of the race.  Now that I’m just nine months away from finishing up I’m filled with both excitement and dread, all at the same time.

I’m excited about the prospects that I will have to advance in my career with a MBA degree, but at the same time I am grieving the loss of my school time.  It seems like just a few months ago that I started this program, and now the end is near.  When I came into the program I thought I’d just plow through the courses, learning about business, but that it would pretty much just be a time commitment, and that I’d add a bit to my knowledge with each class.  What I found was that I developed deep, meaningful relationships with the other students and professors, which I think will last a lifetime.

You know how when you start something new you’re apprehensive and think ‘I won’t fit in’ or ‘I can’t do this.’ That is the way I felt when I first started.
Now, I feel empowered.

There is nothing that I can’t do if I really want to do it.  Elon has given me that confidence.  Whether in my undergrad stats class (prerequisites are tough), or economics, I started with the fear that I would fail.  But I never did, and I made it through.  If nothing else, Elon will develop in you the courage to move forward – in your career and in your personal life.  I think I am a much better person, both at work and at home, just for going through the program.

For those that are thinking about embarking on the journey to advanced education I would offer this advice –

1.     You’re never too old to learn.  I waited way too long to go back because of my fear of the GMAT.  Get out there as soon as the momentum kicks in.  You would be surprised at what you can do.

2.    Go to the MBA Open House – there’s a lot of great information in there.  If you are still unsure, ask to talk to a student or recent graduate one-on-one, they will find someone for you to talk to about the school and the program.

3.    If you are scared of the GMAT take a prep course – there are plenty of private programs offered to help you develop test strategies.  In addition, there are several community colleges that offer classes for GMAT preparation (that’s what I did).

4.    If you are weak in one area (like math, for me), ask if you can enroll as a non-credit student at Elon to get a feel for the college, and beef up your skills.  It will also give you a good feel for the expectations of Elon students, and if you’ve been out for a while, it will give you a good chance to ‘practice’ school before enrolling.  I found that my undergrad stats class was one of the best classes I ever took – Elon is turning out some great quality students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

You will never be alone once you join the Elon community.  These are folks that will be there with you through everything – and I’ve seen it all – new jobs, losing jobs, weddings, babies, and deaths.  We all seem to stick together like glue, no matter what is going on in our individual lives.  This is a bond as strong as any you’ve ever seen.