Taking Commitment to the Next Level: Couples Taking Graduate Classes Together

by Chelsea Bronstein ‘15 | Jun 09, 2014

Without a doubt, pursuing an MBA requires commitment…especially one for those who work full-time and have families to care for, above other obligations.  Couples Marquise & Joy Frazier and Chris & Christina Schoemaker decided to take commitment to the next level.  Not only are they committed to each other, but they are also graduates and current students committed to the DeSales MBA program! 

As DeSales MBA graduates, Marquise and Joy agree that the support of one another helped them succeed in the program.  Similarly, as current students of the program, Chris and Christina have learned more about their careers as well as each other.

   Marquise and Joy Frazier are proud DeSales MBA
   graduates.  In order to advance their careers, they decided to
   pursue an MBA together for support and foundation.  They
   believe being married would add to the advancement, and it
   did!  The DeSales MBA program offered convenience in 
   several ways to the Fraziers.  As full-time employees and
   parents, the location convenience, including the flexibility to
   take courses online, became an important factor in their
   decision to come to DeSales University.

Both Marquise and Joy agree that their best experience was in their final Capstone course.  In this course, the students had to choose a partner for the “Business Strategy game.”  They decided to be partners for their final class and both said they “Couldn’t have been with anyone else!”  Proudly, this power couple made top five - a very happy accomplishment for them.  Obtaining their MBAs has definitely made an impact on both of their lives personally, and professionally.  Marquise has gained more confidence in his knowledge of his career and enjoys encouraging his kids by telling them, “Daddy has three degrees!”  Undoubtedly, acquiring his MBA has given him a personal sense of achievement that he can be proud of.  Professionally, Marquise experienced career advancement as the Clinical Operations Manager of Radiation Oncology at John Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.  He is happy to say that his MBA has, “opened so many doors and I feel that the sky is the limit!”

For Joy personally, her MBA has afforded her the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of education to her children.  She expresses, “I like to think we are great role models for our kids,” to which many would agree.  She has experienced so many changes in her professional life, especially in leadership roles, and when she is ready to advance her career, she is excited for what the future holds.  Armed with her DeSales MBA degree, she is confident doors will open for her as well. 

Together, it took three years to complete their MBAs; in unison, they agree that, “real life takes precedence.”  With the exception of the obligation to work, they endured a different kind of challenge they had to overcome while pursuing their MBAs.  About midway through the program, Marquise and Joy found out that both of their children have autism.  Without a doubt, this struggle added more stress to their lives.  However, they persevered and rose above the struggles and found that being in school gave them the ability to see how to deal with their children’s autism.  Majoring in Healthcare Systems Management truly helped them learn the “ins and outs” of the healthcare industry. 

  Both Marquise and Joy enthusiastically recommend the DeSales MBA program to others.  Joy exclaims, “Without a doubt, the DeSales MBA program is a great program.  After completing the surveys each session, it was clear that our feedback was heard.  That is awesome and really important.”  Marquise wholeheartedly agreed with his wife’s recommendation of the DeSales MBA program, and added, “Dr. Gilfoil is fantastic!”  Dr. Dave Gilfoil is the DeSales MBA Director, and also a full-time faculty member.  Marquise had the opportunity of learning from Dr. Gilfoil, and admired his knowledge and.  Above all, Marquise and Joy agree that the faculty was truly amazing, including Associate MBA Director, Mary Ann Falk, and Administrative Secretary, Kim Karpinski.   They learned a lot and feel the three years’ worth of additional knowledge has changed them for life. 

Chris and Christina Schoemaker are current students in the DeSales MBA Program.  Deeply devoted to personal and professional development, Chris decided to pursue his MBA.  Christina is a very goal-orientated individual and obtaining her MBA was a personal goal even before her undergraduate work.  Chris believes that taking the time to go through the program without his wife would “hamper their personal development
and their ability to contribute to the success of their employers.”   He also feels he has learned more about personal and professional development from Christina over anyone else and she has become his “competitive advantage!”  The result of going through the program together has provided a priceless resource of support and experience they would not have access to alone.  Chris and Christina possess a drive for increasing excellence in their personal and professional lives, the incredible organizations they work for, and for their community.  Decision to pursue the MBA together stemmed from their desire to maximize their talents and be resources to one another.  This inspiring couple has always managed their family with the mindset that “together we fail or succeed,” so participating in the DeSales MBA program together was a natural and easy decision!  Christina cheers, “Soon, we’ll be MBA’s squared!”

 It did not take long to mark the DeSales MBA program as their final decision for a few different reasons.  Similar to the Fraziers, flexibility was one of the most important factors for the Schoemakers due to their busy schedule.  DeSales MBA offers the ability to take classes on-site and/or online, providing the flexibility most working adults search for.  As a Lehigh Valley Health Network employee, a partner of DeSales MBA program, Christina quickly bumped DeSales to the top of her list on behalf of her colleague’s recommendations.  However, both Chris and Christina agree that Associate Director, Mary Ann Falk put the cherry on top for their decision to pursue their MBAs with DeSales University!  Chris happily expresses, “Mary Ann did an excellent job of walking me through what was needed for me to graduate as soon as possible with my MBA.  Her personal touch played a big factor in my decision to attend DeSales.”  Christina adds, “Mary Ann certainly sealed the deal for me as she explained the affordability and flexibility of the DeSales MBA program!  I have come to rely on her expertise and guidance.” 

Chris and Christina have had wonderful experiences on their DeSales MBA journey thus far.  In particular to Chris, the Executive Forum with Dave DeCampli was a highlight.  While it gave MBA students the chance to speak directly to one of Lehigh Valley’s top executives, it was also a proud moment for Chris as a PPL employee.  Chris is proud to be employed by PPL and he feels that his classmates were able to experience the leadership in his company and the culture PPL strives to maintain.  Additionally, Chris enjoys learning the backgrounds of other students, breaking down their thought process in dealing with specific challenges, and having their experiences as another instrument in his tool belt to use in his daily life.  As for Christina, her best experience occurred during the final project in MK501, Buyer Behavior, with Professor Joseph King.  She elaborates on how Professor King asked each student to evaluate the strategic marketing plan of their current employer or another corporation.  Ecstatic, Christina received the opportunity to meet with the leaders of Lehigh Valley Health Network.  This experience allowed her to gain valuable insight into different areas of expertise at LVHN.  Also, Christina was able to create relationships with colleagues whom she had very little interaction with before the project.

Naturally, juggling a family, work, and graduate school can be enough to knock anyone down.  However, with their perseverance and DeSales MBA program’s flexibility, Chris and Christina have been pushing forward and continuing their journey to graduation.  Combining a blend of on-site and online classes, they have been able to maintain their daily schedules and still have time for a summer family vacation!  Although the flexibility of online classes is beneficial, Chris and Christina still appreciate on-site classes to experience personal connection, classroom settings, and networking opportunities.

Despite being current students, the Schoemakers already feel the impact their DeSales MBA journey is making on them.  While both are full-time parents, employees, MBA students and community volunteers, they wind up elevating themselves to a new level of stress, success, and potential.  Without the help of the DeSales MBA program, Chris and Christina may not have been able to see what they are capable of.  Chris believes, “if you want something bad enough, you just do it.  You do it knowing you are going to make life better for your spouse, your children, your employer, and your community. That mindset alone prepares you better for the workplace.”   Christina agrees and adds that the DeSales MBA program has taught her to be a better communicator which, in turn, has made her a better wife, mother, employee, and student.  The Schoemaker’s marriage and family life is stronger because they are both better in tune with their priorities and responsibilities.  Together, they say, “it’s not easy…but, nothing worth doing ever is.”  Many would agree those are excellent words of wisdom.

Certainly, challenges arrived in Chris and Christina’s pursuit of the MBA that they needed to overcome.  Regardless of the struggles, being an MBA student provided Chris with the much needed distraction throughout the year.  His demanded focus on something positive provided an outlet of stress relief.  Specifically, Chris struggled with the advanced capacity of Microsoft Excel.  During his Business Computing course with Dr. Jeffries, Chris ran into a few challenges.  Nevertheless, he successfully rose above them with hard work and persistence, and benefitted as a better student because of it.  Christina realized her prolific procrastinator days had to end.  In the beginning of the DeSales MBA program, she quickly understood that her time management skills needed work. “It’s impossible to juggle so many responsibilities and procrastinate on assignments,” insists Christina, a now effective and efficient time manager thanks to the DeSales MBA program and her determination.

Indisputably, Chris and Christina would like to extend their recommendation of DeSales MBA Program.  The interactions with the staff and camaraderie in the classroom are unforgettable experiences.  Additionally, it makes them very happy that increased interest has come from LVHN as well as PPL.  Chris explains, “The leadership qualities that are reinforced throughout the DeSales MBA program are common sense ideals that transfer to a successful marriage and a unified family.”  For example, listening with humility and having a high self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses has made Chris a better husband and father.  He ends with, “it’s an added benefit you don’t expect to get out of a business program.”  Comments like this are what DeSales MBA program strives for, and we are happy to offer skills that go beyond the workplace.

As for Christina, she has recently become the Director of Development for Valley Youth House, leading the fundraising initiatives for the agency and joining their leadership team.  Upon successful completion of the MBA program, she will receive a promotion to Vice President for Development.  Aside from the strategic career advancement, she is eager to serve the mission of Valley Youth House, in aiding to provide better outcomes for the youth in our community and beyond.

Ultimately, DeSales MBA program is proud to have such inspiring students who are committed in more ways than one.  Clearly, couples taking graduate classes offer the support and encouragement to each other that they need.  We are proud to be a program with increasing numbers of married couples attending together. While teaching students the necessities for their career, instilling family values and skills to better themselves makes the DeSales MBA program’s intentions complete.


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Tom McNamara
Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University
2255 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034

610.282.1100 x1219
Tom.McNamara@desales.edu