Bob Kepshire entered the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the University of South Carolina Aiken with more than 21 years of nursing administration experience. He will leave it with a sixth higher education degree.
“UofSC Aiken is close to my house,” he said. “As a Georgia resident, I still get in-state tuition. This was a golden opportunity. So, I applied, got accepted and it was the best thing I have ever done.”
Kepshire, who is chief nursing officer at University Hospital McDuffie in Thomson, Georgia, is on track to graduate from the online MBA program in May 2021.
“I wish I would have done this about 10 years ago,” he said. In his role as a hospital administrator, he learned the job by doing it. Networking helped him find his footing, too. He still felt the need for a more structured grounding in finance.
“I thought it would be nice to have that formal education, know the theory behind business administration, to be able to speak to my colleagues in finance and understand what drives the bottom line,” Kepshire said.
The flexibility of the online format gives him the leeway to work on school around his busy schedule. He is also a church deacon at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church.
“I am kind of a night owl anyway,” he said. “It’s not unusual for me to stay up late — especially on weekends. It’s quiet at the house. Everyone else is sleeping while I am up there writing. It makes it very manageable for someone who has a full-time job.”
An A-Plus Plan B
Kepshire grew up in northwest Indiana and completed a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Purdue University in 1982.
“When I graduated, the economy wasn’t doing well,” he said. “Nobody was hiring designers or architects. I had been a medic, so I went back to work as a paramedic near Chicago. I enjoyed taking care of patients, so I went into nursing 35 years ago.”
After earning associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Purdue University Northwest, Kepshire transitioned into administration and never looked back. He added a hybrid master’s degree in pastoral studies and theology from Saint Leo University in 2007.
“The instructors at UofSC Aiken have been extremely helpful,” he said. “They are responsive to questions. The Blackboard format they use to get your notes and turn in your assignments is a great system that works very well.
“I am impressed with how powerful the whole format is. It’s like a search engine for anything you need to accomplish in the course. I have learned a lot.”
Legal and Ethical Environment of Business, taught by MBA program director Dr. Linda Rodriguez, is Kepshire’s favorite course in the curriculum.
“I have a lot of interest in ethics, which is why I liked the course and found it interesting,” he said. “I have learned something from every one of the courses.”
Kepshire especially benefited from the Marketing Management course.
“I did a marketing plan for the hospital where I work for my final project and got a perfect score,” he said. “The professor said it’s rare that she ever gives a perfect score on a final project. I killed two birds with one stone. I was able to bring it back to work to use.
“Almost everyone in the finance department in our health system is a CPA. The questions that I ask now about financial statements are so much different than they used to be. They always mess with me and say, ‘All right, what course are you in now?’ I am connecting the dots.”
Kepshire has had a strong support system in place since he enrolled in the online MBA program at UofSC Aiken in 2018. He has taken one course at a time throughout the program.
“My colleagues at work are cheering me on,” he said. “My wife, Cathy, knows I love to learn new things. I am always doing research and trying to expand my knowledge.
“Cathy asked, ‘What are you going to do after this degree?’ I told her there will be no more college degrees, but I want to do an online program to learn how to speak German. She’s been very supportive.”
With two grown children, Eric (36) and Amanda (31), Kepshire enjoys being the elder statesman among his classmates.
“I am 63 years old,” he said. “In the capstone course, we broke up into groups. With everybody in the group, I am old enough to be their dad.”
Kepshire, who enjoys hiking and fishing in his free time, believes that the key to success in the master’s degree program is time management.
“You have to set your schedule and prioritize your time,” he said. “It’s easy to say that you will catch up, but it’s not a cakewalk. The professors have high expectations for how you perform in the course.
“You have to keep up the pace and not let the work build up to do at the eleventh hour, because you won’t succeed.”
Now that graduation is right around the corner, Kepshire is glad he took the opportunity to enhance his real-world experience with an MBA.
“I would tell anybody, ‘If you are considering earning an MBA, you need to look at UofSC Aiken,'” he said. “The faculty is great. The program is great. The structure is great. You can’t beat the value for what you are getting.”
Learn more about UofSC Aiken’s online MBA program.