MBA student invests in herself

By Shanita Rowsey

Graduating in December of 2021 with my undergrad degree in communications and journalism was the end of my college journey, so I thought.

I had graduated magna cum laude and felt prepared to start the next chapter of my life. However, there was more to this college journey that I had yet to discover.

As a student who loves learning and growing, it wasn’t long before I was ready to explore the idea of what was else might be possible. I researched the advantages of an MBA.

I wanted a degree that had an impact on my life and my professional career, and had the potential to benefit the lives of others. I’m midway through the program now and can share examples of how an MBA is making a difference for me.

Pursuing an MBA degree is not about allowing things to just happen. It is about making things happen. It is important to have a dream and a plan. By being in the MBA program, you learn the skills to shape both.

An MBA sets you apart and provides you with more opportunities and connections

– Shanita Rowsey

Why did I pursue an MBA?

While attending Mount Mary University for my bachelor’s degree. I often talked about the impact that I wanted to create in the world. I wanted to provide a positive message to young girls and women to be confident and whole individuals. I have a message of hope and want to leave a positive legacy for many generations after I am gone. I understood that I could do this in a number of ways, but I wasn’t sure on the path that I should take.

As an undergrad, I had the opportunity to connect and become friends with some of my professors who I now consider sisters. Two professors in particular gave me the extra push that I needed to take the leap after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. These professors took me under their wings and helped me shape my personal brand while growing professionally. These professors encouraged me to enter into the MBA program to gain more clarity and start making the kind of impact that I wanted in my business and my career.

When deciding which school to attend, Mount Mary was my first choice. I enjoyed my prior years while attending the school and I knew that I wanted to continue my journey here.

As a graduate student who also works full-time, I appreciate the fact that MMU provides hybrid classes at night. With this “hyflex” option I can decide on a per-class basis whether I want to attend in-person or online.

Being able to attend school and building a professional network without worrying about an additional commute after work is priceless when you are trying to create work-life balance. Having the ability to journey with other peers who you will see throughout the program gives you a sense of unity and comfort knowing that you don’t have to take this journey alone.

Applying to grad school which was an easy process. I had a conversation with admissions on a Monday, completed the application on a Tuesday and by Friday I was accepted – even thought this was the last week before classes started. I had the support of some amazing teachers who wrote recommendations for me very quickly. It confirmed that this was the next step for me.

Has this MBA experience advanced my career?

Since entering into the program, I have received a new position and raise. The business skills that I am learning are helping me to implement changes at work in real time. I have been able to communicate better with my team and leadership to ensure that things run more smoothly. Personally, by pursuing my degree, I believe it has gained me more respect in the workspace.

I have been at my current employer for almost two years and have been able to work my way up in various positions. However, when I informed my boss that I was starting the MBA program, I was given even greater opportunity to allow me to utilize analytical, planning and communication skills in a new way. New doors are opening up for me that allowed me to be stretched and grow professionally.

Despite the opinion of some doubters, I have found that having an MBA – or even working toward one – sets you apart and provides you more opportunities and connections.

In my small business management class, we have had the opportunity to hear from women-owned businesses that share how they started and lessons they have learned. It is refreshing and inspiring to hear how people started with little to no resources but have managed to be successful against all odds.

Being a part of the program allows you to see the commitment of MMU to see you operate in leadership roles that bring about real change in real time. The MBA program is designed to shape leaders that will help shape other leaders through positive impact. This is why MMU’s MBA program stands out – there human dignity is a true desire to see you elevate.

As it relates to me starting a business, I am able to understand the business side of things better because of what I am learning. It has provided more insight in regards to having a plan, knowing how to handle people and being able to have a vision. For example, in my marketing management class, we are creating a marketing plan that will help you attract and retain customers. In business this is important because you have to consider your target audience, how will you reach them and what will keep them coming back. Having detailed resources and information helps you to implement more of what you learn in class to your business or profession.

While I have chosen to commit to a full MBA, students also have the option of earning professional development certificates (also called “badges” or “microcredentials”) in programs such as leadership and organizational behavior; small business management; DEI for business; and health care leadership. In fall 2023, MMU is introducing a track in human resources management. Students can stack these in order to earn a full MBA.

What the MBA has taught me about myself

After one semester of grad school, my biggest “ah ha” moment has been that this is really about me. I realized that this journey is about developing me as a person and a professional. The MBA pushes me to be disciplined, to be patient and to give myself grace at the same time. It is not about rushing to the finish line but going at my own pace.

Even though you are going at your own pace, it is a fast-paced journey. Each semester is eight weeks and time goes by so fast. It is important that I stay on top of assignments and communicate if I have questions. I was also surprised at how many books or resources there are to read. However, each of these resources is relevant and provides clarity and insight.

One of the lessons I have learned so far that I value is learning to take control of my journey. Pursuing an MBA degree is not about allowing things to just happen but it is more about making things happen.

Currently, I work a full- and part-time job while attending grad school and building a new business. Each week brings a challenge of maintaining my peace and getting all the things done. However, when I set my mind to do something, I decide to commit to the journey. Each week, I do a brain-dump of all the things that I need to get done then I tackle three to five things a day to make sure that I keep up with this season of my life.

It is important to have a dream and a plan. By being in the MBA program, it helps you to shape both so that you can reach your desired level of succes.

Can I afford to get my MBA?

When you are considering grad school, one of the things that people are wondering is can I afford to go? Is it worth the money? I want you to know that yes you can afford it and yes it is worth the investment. The first semester I decided to take a loan to pay for my education because I didn’t want the stress of worrying about how to cover the expenses upfront. I wanted to focus more on the new journey that I was embarking.

My current employer does not pay for any of my tuition. I have decided to cash flow the rest of my degree which can be done through payment options at MMU and scholarships. It is important to find ways to go to school instead of finding ways not to invest in yourself. I encourage you to look for scholarships, work-study programs and possibly start a part-time job to help you make the investment.

Anything is possible with an MBA?

Once I finish this degree, I will put into action what I have learned through this program. I plan to launch my coaching and consulting business to help women unlock their own potential and live fulfilled lives. I will also open up a non-profit that will help our young girls build confidence and self-worth. As an alumna of Mount Mary, I would love to even teach here.

My world view has opened up tremendously. So who knows? Maybe a doctorate is also in my future.

If you are someone looking to continue your education, here is my advice.

  • Know that the journey is about you and for you. You will learn and develop in ways that you didn't know were possible.
  • Lean into your new network. Take advantage of the community of peers and teachers who will help guide you on this new path of success.
  • Believe in yourself. Don’t allow what has never been done to keep you from doing. So many times I doubted myself because I didn’t think I was worthy of certain opportunities or experiences. The self-doubt led to missed opportunities and unfinished business. I want to encourage you to bet on yourself and start the journey.

Consider Mount Mary for your MBA journey where you will not only gain a degree, but you will gain a village full of people who want to see you succeed. You can start your journey at

Shanita Rowsey ’21 will finish her MBA in May 2024. She is currently building her coaching and consulting practice.