New Jersey Local Deborah Johnson Seizes Opportunity to Achieve Goal of MBA

Deborah Johnson with her husband, Bob, and their daughters, Although her three daughters — Kaitlynn, Ashley and Christina, in New York City.

Empty nest, full brain.

Studying became central to Deborah Johnson’s life when she enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration program at the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) in the Fall 2019 term.

“Once my three children were in college, I decided the time was right to do this for myself,” she said. “I have always wanted to go back for an MBA. It’s something I wanted to accomplish that was mainly for self-satisfaction.”

Johnson is an executive assistant at a major telecommunication company in New Jersey. Like many employees, she is still working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She graduated from USC Aiken in December 2021 with a 3.91 GPA.

“I took a lot of online courses in my undergrad, so I was familiar with the format,” she said. “I am the type of person who devotes a lot of time to these classes. I spent a significant amount of time on my schoolwork, which was fine by me.”

Although her three daughters — Kaitlynn (Rutgers University), Ashley (Montclair State University) and Christina (Seton Hall University) —attended school in New Jersey, Johnson enjoyed earning her master’s degree from down south.

“The online MBA program fit into my schedule. I researched quite a few universities and found USC Aiken to be the best. The length of the classes attracted me,” she said. “I wanted to be able to accomplish this within two years, which I did. Tuition was also low, which allowed me to take more classes within the year with the help of the tuition assistance program through my employer.”

Not Garden Variety

Johnson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a business minor from St. Elizabeth University in 2009. However, she brought more than 25 years of real-world work experience to USC Aiken’s online MBA program, adding plenty of applicable knowledge from the curriculum to her skill set.

“My true interest lies in law. Having earned a paralegal certification, I enjoyed the MBA courses on law and ethics. The capstone course was also great. It gave insight into how companies strategize three to five years ahead, projecting their stretch goal,” said Johnson, noting that participation in the GLO-BUS strategy simulation game gave her a chance to apply the takeaways from the capstone course.

Johnson and her husband, Bob, a retired ice sculptor, are proud of their daughters’ accomplishments. Serving in the New Jersey National Guard are Kaitlynn (signal operations) and Ashley (combat medic), and Christina is continuing her completion of the physician assistant program.

Having earned her MBA online, Johnson is grateful for the opportunity it offered to set an example for her daughters as they pursue their own careers.

“My children were young when I was in undergrad,” she said. “They saw what went into studying, which set the stage for them. Now that I’ve completed my MBA, they see what hard work can accomplish. It was fun being in college at the same time with them and we are all excited to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Home Away From Home

Johnson hopes to take on new challenges in her career some time down the road. With an MBA under her belt, she is proud of her degree and believes it will pay dividends.

“I am still working from home, so that currently stymies me to advancement,” she said. She would like to take on more responsibility when she returns to the office or move up the ladder to a higher executive assistant role. “I feel as though this degree will help open up some career opportunities for me, as the MBA program at USC Aiken is invaluable.”

Johnson said that the key to success as an online student involves managing time and balancing work, life and school. She is proud that she achieved her long-term goal of earning a master’s degree.

“You have to prepare to devote a lot of time to your studies, but also set time aside for yourself,” she said. “Make sure you are regimented, answer your discussion questions with substantial data to support the questions in a timely fashion, and be prepared to research beyond the text.

“The professors at USC Aiken were accessible and helpful, and I highly recommend the MBA program for anyone looking to pursue higher education.”

Learn more about USC Aiken’s online MBA program.

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