Meet Will Smith, father, VP and online MBA grad

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Earning his MBA was a goal that had been on Will Smith’s Life List for many years. And when he reached a point where he was ready to progress in his career, he knew that achieving his online MBA was key to that advancement. As Will began looking for the right school, he prayed for guidance and felt God brought him to Spring Arbor University Online.

“The support at SAU Online is amazing,” reports Will. “From the staff and faculty to all the students and my classmates, everybody was so encouraging.”

Going back to school as an adult to earn an advanced degree, while also juggling a full-time career, requires time, energy and resource management. Will points out that the technology employed by SAU made earning an online MBA convenient and easier than he thought it would be.

NYC Networking Trip

Embedded within SAU’s Online MBA program is an optional trip to New York City, where students participate in an international business summit. Will took part in the NYC trip and is glad he did, stating, “New York was a great experience, and it gave us a chance to get together with our online cohort.” The trip offered Will and his classmates an opportunity to expand upon principles learned in their international business class. The students worked together and gained experience presenting their projects to each other. The visit also provided some time to see the sights, including the World Trade Center, the United Nations, Brooklyn Tabernacle and St. Francis College.

MBA Living Case Study

Providing students with real-world business challenges through a Living Case Study is another element of SAU’s online MBA program. Will chose to examine employee engagement and turnover as it related to a company where he was employed during the time he was completing his MBA. “It was really interesting to analyze the issues from a scientific approach, and consider the trends and other specifics that lead to turnover,” Will states. He continues to use the knowledge and experience gained from the study at his new organization.

Will explains that finding time to get his MBA work done, while also balancing a career and home life, took a lot of focus. However, he again points to the enormous amount of support he always felt while completing the program at SAU Online.

“Everybody was going through the same experience. We all have our cohort with us through the process, and my classmates were advancing with me. We all prayed for each other and offered words of encouragement to one another,” Will says. “Assistance and encouragement from supportive faculty was always available.”

Instructors who Will recalls as being particularly helpful along his MBA path include Dr. Caleb Chan, Dr. Sharon Norris, Dr. George Griffin and Dr. Kendra Lentz.

“I know the amazing faculty at SAU, along with so many of my classmates, were praying for me and for my success at the program,” Will says. “What an entirely different experience from my undergrad days.”

Spring Arbor University encourages students to “live on purpose.” As an online student, Will took those words to heart. “I have so much appreciation for the fact that SAU bases its foundation on leadership through Servanthood and Stewardship,” he explains. “I have learned so much through those guiding principles.”

Will graduated in May of 2015, after completing his Masters of Business Administration in 18 months. During his last semester, a significant number of job options began to open up.  He currently resides in Anchorage, Alaska, where he accepted a Vice President of Human Resources position with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) at Alaska Regional Hospital. Will has a 17-year-old son, Cole, who witnessed his dad’s dedication and determination as Will completed the MBA program.

“It was amazing for my son to see me back in school and focused on my goal. I know he’ll look back and reflect on that experience,” Will says. “Seeing my son’s hard work in both his high school studies and sports was a blessing that absolutely encouraged and motivated me to go back and pursue my MBA.”

Now that he has completed his online MBA, Will has a bit more time to get back to his hobbies of golf and basketball. Plus, his love of photography has reached a new level as he gets out and explores the beauty of Alaska. Reflecting on his path, Will states that leading up to graduation he knew another chapter in his life would open up. “God led me here,” he says. “I’m so thankful I chose Spring Arbor Online.”

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