In Pursuit of the American Dream

Ronald Shute, MBA
Excelsior College Class of 2010
District Engineer (New Brunswick Gas)
PSEG

As a child, Ron Shute didn’t have far to look for role models. He found his inspiration by watching and learning from his parents’ example. Successful and hard working, the Shutes took pride in providing for their family. “I am very proud of who they are and what they accomplished, and I strive to do the same for my own family,” said Shute, who began his career with PSE&G in 1998 as a summer Intern while a college sophomore. He graduated from Rutgers in 2001 with a BS in industrial engineering.

After graduating, his plan was to continue his education by pursuing an MBA from a traditional college like Rutgers, but working mode took over. Ron had always wanted to be the first in his family to earn a master’s degree and after working almost seven years, he knew it was time. Even before he enrolled in the CCS MBA program, his managers repeatedly encouraged him to get started. “My organization does support me and my academic endeavors and once I started taking classes in January 2007, they provided guidance, resources, tools, and the time I needed to pursue my MBA.” PSE&G provided Ron the support he needed for the new challenges he faced, but he soon found time to be his biggest test. “Balancing work, school, wedding and honeymoon planning, selling a condo, and buying a house all within a year’s time rewrote the definition of time management for me.”

Ron has no regrets about his decision. “Many of the courses I have taken have taught me about the various management styles that effective leaders can possess and I recognize the importance of being visible and more accessible to my workers.” Always looking forward, Ron is working toward reaching the position of District Manager. “Because it has also helped me to broaden my business background, I feel that my participation in the CCS MBA program has set me a lot closer to achieving that goal.”

Before starting the program, Ron felt he looked at life from a “micro” level. Now he tries to take a “macro” perspective. “Something as simple as ‘hello’ can go a long way in earning someone’s respect and trust and taking the time to listen to someone is important in business and at home.” Working hard to be just as successful as his parents, both personally and professionally, Ron wants his family, friends, and acquaintances to know him as someone who is honest and hardworking. The dream continues to come full circle for as the parents inspired their son, the son now inspires his parents.

“No” Is Not an Option

Karen Young, MBA
Excelsior College Class of 2008
Financial Analyst
Prudential

Pursuing an MBA was a goal Karen Young always had, but there were reasons she was unable to make the proper commitment she felt necessary. In 2006, however, things changed and Karen decided the timing was right. Originally she was going to apply to her alma mater, Pace University, but after further inquiry, decided the MBA offered through CCS would be a perfect fit. “The program offered through CCS provides ample opportunities for learning through the many classes offered, as well as exposure to different subjects and individuals with a variety of life experiences.” Karen also turns to senior management who offer their support and feedback concerning her term projects. A vice president was even the executive sponsor of one of her major projects.

Karen has been a Financial Analyst with Prudential since 1999. Her responsibilities include supporting their Agency Distribution area budgets that total $92 million annually. Karen works with budget contracts to review analysis and forecast submissions for dollars and headcount variations. In addition, she suggests areas of improvement or savings to help meet financial expectations.

Aside from her work and studies, Karen works equally hard to maintain balance in her family life. “I always do whatever I can to give back and help others. I encourage my daughters to be active in activities.” Karen definitely walks the walk. She is a participant in a mentoring program for female high school students, is the membership coordinator for the PTA at her daughter’s middle school, is a participant in a “visiting professor program” through the National Urban League, and most recently completed Girl Scout Leader training so she can co-lead her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.

It is apparent that Karen brings a high level of commitment to all that she puts her mind to. She has remained steadfast in her aspirations and eagerly looks forward to the prospect of graduating in December of 2008. “I now realize the value of my education — how what I am learning can help me to further my career. Being a CCS student has also taught me organization and time management skills. My confidence has grown in my ability to write and present material orally.” Karen’s ability to juggle all of her commitments and not fail is an accomplishment to be proud of. When she takes on a commitment, she motivates herself to do her best and work as hard as possible. “Whenever my daughters tell me they cannot do something, I tell them that ‘NO’ is not an option.” Sometimes Karen uses another phrase for motivational purposes: “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” Sweet words of inspiration, indeed.

Guided by Faith…and a Fairytale

Beth Sinclair
Thomas Edison State College Class of 2012
Dealer Web Marketing Specialist
Subaru of America

When Beth Sinclair began her life’s journey, she had a different plan in mind. A true-blue child of the ‘sixties, Beth moved to California more interested in pursuing the “hippie” life than continuing her education. What she did not realize was that a higher power was at work in her life, which guided her back to her home near Buffalo, New York, where she gradually fell in love, married, and gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Seventeen years later, a part of the fairytale unraveled as Beth’s marriage ended. Although she had gone back to work when her daughter was two, she now had the full responsibility of raising her.

Her career with Subaru of America began on July 17, 1978, first as a customer service representative and then in project management. She worked on three different project teams. It was the third project involving the handling of email through their brand new corporate website that led Beth to her current position. Beth was asked to manage email received through the new site and, in 1999, moved into responsibility for the operations of the Subaru Dealer Website Program helping dealers maximize the benefits of using the Web to generate leads and sell cars.

Beth does not believe in things happening by chance. She believes that coincidences are really God at work in our lives, using her story of how she came to be a student at CCS as an example. During a night out with friends, the discussion of where each went to college came up. Beth surprised everyone when she told them she had never been to college. A month later CCS came to Subaru. After overcoming the nervousness caused by a fear of not being able to keep up with the rest of the class, Beth listened to the advice of a younger co-worker who said repeatedly, “Just take one class; if you hate it, what’s the loss?” and entered the program with no credits. Beth loves being a CCS student. “I feel like my brain is being challenged and the courses have helped me a great deal in the work I do every day. The fact that classes are held at Subaru is also very helpful.”

A self-described spiritual person, Beth thinks that there is no limit to what a person can do. “I’m planning on graduating in three years — when I’m 60! For me this isn’t about getting ahead in my career. It’s about reaching a lifelong goal.” A huge fan of the movie, The Princess Bride, she describes the scene where the Dread Pirate Roberts tells Wesley on a nightly basis, “Good night, Wesley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll likely kill you in the morning,” as a comparison to what she thought after registering for each class, “Okay, one more…I’ll likely quit after this one…” Of course, the pirate didn’t kill Wesley who went on to find his true love and Beth didn’t quit, realizing that there was no turning back from her dream. So the story goes…and Beth succeeded happily ever after.

A Healthy Measure of Knowledge Is a Recipe for Success

Amelia McGee, MBA
Charter Oak State College Class of 2011
Investment Security Associate
Prudential

On Sunday, June 7, 2011, Amelia McGee was one of the 550 graduates who took part in Charter Oak State College’s commencement ceremony. Cheered on by her children and family, Amelia also carried the memory of her grandfather’s wish to see her graduate as she accepted her diploma. “If he were still alive, this would have made him so proud because this is something he always wanted for me,” she said. Completing her BS with a concentration in Retailing and Management was the culmination of her college journey, which began in 1989. Amelia’s educational journey is not over, however, as she is preparing to start her MBA through CCS and Excelsior College. “My undergrad degree has given me the confidence to pursue my education further, which will ultimately allow me to achieve my career goals.”

Although knowing a college degree was required for advancement in her current position and served as a motivating tool, Amelia was driven to complete her degree for more personal reasons — being a role model to her four children. A single mom for many years, Amelia found it a challenge to balance work, family life, and trying to finish her college degree. Attending traditional colleges in the past proved discouraging and in 2004 Amelia enrolled in the CCS onsite degree completion program offered at Prudential. “I had to take one class at a time to get it done, but it really boosted my confidence and gave me a sense of accomplishment.”

Amelia’s encouragement of education doesn’t end with her children, but extends to co-workers as well. She offers this helpful advice. “Make sure pursuing your degree is something you want to do for yourself because if your thirst for knowledge is a constant part of your everyday life, your experience with CCS will be an enjoyable one.” The concepts Amelia learned in her Organizational Behavior class are ones she has incorporated into her relationship with her supervisor and co-workers. “I learned to take a different approach when seeking direction and assisting a work team with a project,” she said. Of her learning experiences with her CCS instructors, Amelia shared, “Go into each class with an open mind and make no comparisons…ask questions…welcome each new encounter as a lesson needed to be learned in order to excel.”

Her thirst for learning, as Amelia likes to describe it, heartily spills into the other facets of her life. An avid reader, she uses her Kindle to read all types of genres from romance to sci-fi with a little paranormal and street crime in the mix. A self-professed foodie who loves trying new recipes from friends or the Food Network, Amelia dreams of maybe one day opening a family restaurant. She also wants to study astronomy because she says, “I’m curious about what goes on outside planet Earth.” With her eyes fixed on the stars, Amelia is open to the endless possibilities of what life has to offer through her love of learning, love of her family, and her love of life, itself.

Editor’s Note: As of 2013, Amelia has earned her MBA through Excelsior College.