After a 21-year career in the United States Air Force, Joseph Magrone is preparing to go off into a different kind of wild blue yonder.
To prepare for the journey into a new career, he graduated from the online Master of Business Administration program at the University of South Carolina Aiken (UofSC Aiken) in December 2020.
"I have some lingering health issues that are still getting shored up," he said. "I didn't want to work yet because I didn't know how everything was going to play out. With the military benefits, I was able to go back to school and get paid to do so. I liked it and kept going with it."
Magrone retired from the service four years ago as an aircraft armament specialist (bomb and missile loader). During his tenure, he served his country in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Okinawa, Japan.
"I initially went into the Air Force because I didn't want to go to school," he said. "I liked it and stuck with it. It was a good experience and provided a long career for me."
Although Magrone was a full-time student during his 14 months in the online MBA program, the flexibility of the format helped him work on school when it was most convenient.
"I liked doing the program online," he said. "My wife, Jennifer, is working to help support this. Her mother got sick and was in a home, so we knew that we were going to spend more time with her. I switched to the online program during my undergrad, which facilitated that a lot better."
Magrone was born in Berwick, Pennsylvania, and raised in Goose Creek, South Carolina. He enlisted in the service in 1995 and earned an associate degree from the Community College of the Air Force four years before he retired.
After enrolling in a Bachelor of Business Administration program at the University of South Carolina Sumter, Magrone transferred to the main campus in Columbia for two years and then finished the degree program online at UofSC Aiken in 2018.
"I did a couple of online courses when I got an associate degree, so I knew what to expect," he said. "I enjoyed doing the online courses at UofSC Aiken, which is also a military-friendly school."
The experience of focusing on school for the last four years has paid off for Magrone with a pair of degrees and a foundation for a second career. He has squeezed a lot of knowledge into that time frame.
"My favorite instructor in the MBA program was the one I had for Operations Management [MGMT A728], Dr. Ben Jebara," he said. "My favorite course was Management and Organizational Behavior [MGMT A715], because I like seeing how people operate in certain roles."
Magrone is eager to apply that knowledge as 2021 begins and he returns to the workforce with a master's degree under his belt.
"I believe the degree will open up some opportunities for me and give me some options to explore in the future," he said. "Although the military paid for my schooling, the MBA program at UofSC Aiken is a great value."
On the Runway
Although Magrone is keeping those options open, he hopes to land a position working in the education field at the high school or college level.
"I would like to teach, tutor or help however I can," he said. "Here in Sumter, there is an underserved population that needs it."
He could not walk the graduation stage as he did for his UofSC Aiken bachelor's degree, so wrapping up the master's degree was extra special for Magrone.
"I was the first in my immediate family to graduate with a college degree, so they were excited for me," he said. "I am proud to have two degrees from the same university."
In the last six months that Magrone was in the online MBA program, he began learning how to play the piano so that he would have a hobby to fill some of the extra free time brought on by the pandemic.
"My advice to anybody considering the MBA program is to do it," he said. "I have a friend I talked into enrolling. Online is the way to go if you have a family. It was a great experience."
Now, Magrone is clear for takeoff.
Learn more about UofSC Aiken's online MBA program.
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