Alumna earns EMBA while travelling in Colombia

Online education allows students to study from anywhere

Shelley Vandenberg travels a lot, but that didn’t stop her from earning her Executive MBA (EMBA) from the University of Fredericton (UFred).

Recently, Shelley travelled all over Colombia, South America, and still managed to write papers and attend meetings for group assignments. She says UFred made it easy to make progress with her Innovation Leadership specialty stream studies, regardless of where she was.

“Even in places without WIFI, I was still able to maintain course deadlines and find the right balance to get work done. With UFred, you have the flexibility to listen to live classes on your own time if you can’t attend because they are recorded. You can send in assignments in multiple ways and the program allows you to be flexible and adaptable to find the right balance between work and school. It was so easy to manage my time,” she said.

As president of a credit union, flexibility was necessary for her to pursue further education, but that was just one factor that led Shelley to choose UFred. She wanted to prove to herself that she could do it.

“Succession planning as CEO was one of the key drivers for me to attain my MBA – to stay competitive, stay relevant, and keep learning. However, one of my top life goals was to invest in myself with this scholastic achievement,” she said.

Shelley says there was a high level of interaction with her peers, and it was easy to establish rapport and relationships in the virtual environment.

“The instructors were high calibre, engaging, interested, and kept things moving at a good pace. It wasn’t always easy, but they challenged and pushed you to do better. I have formed many friendships with students after the program ended. Overall, a great online experience.”

The Capstone project and presentation at the end of the program was a highlight for Shelley. The Capstone project combines everything learned throughout the program and allows students to demonstrate their ability to synthesize the information.

“That has real impact and real results. The instructor and group work in the Capstone was outstanding. It was hard work, and overwhelming at times in terms of workload, but completely worth it at the end. I felt like I had climbed the greatest mountain and reached the top!”

One thing stands out to Shelley about her experience, and that is how precious time is. Shelley delayed earning her MBA due to the time commitment and wondering if it could fit into her life. In the end, she believes there is never a right time.

“You just have to do it. I found out just how valuable time is when you have a busy job, a busy life and, on top of that, school. I found I had to schedule school into my daily routine, ensuring I was dedicating enough time every day to my studies. This was non-negotiable.”

Now, Shelley says she thinks differently – often better.

“I analyze more, I research more, and the thought process and decision making are more critical than ever before.”

Shelley believes that if earning an MBA or EMBA if your life goal as an adult, don’t delay.

“Many of the students are older, more mature, and struggle with busy jobs and busy lives, so you will be in good company and have other students that you can relate to. The best investment you can ever make is in yourself and education.”

Shelley is currently continuing her learning with a Masters Certificate from UFred while also pursuing a specialty degree on Innovation and Design Thinking from another institution.

“My next career goal is to become a CEO, and my education with UFRED will definitely help me in achieving that.”