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From Matrimony to an MBA

Life as husband and wife in the Jenkins MBA program- How these couples juggled business school and marriage.

Together is better for Tianah and Dawud Washington

Tianah Washington had wanted to pursue an MBA since she earned her undergraduate degree in business. But life got in the way. she needed work experience first. And then she got married and had a baby.

Finally, after about 15 years in health care sales, she enrolled in the Jenkins MBA program in 2019. What gave her the incentive she needed? Her husband, Dawud, decided he wanted a MBA, too.

He said, “‘You know, babe, let’s do it together,’” Tianah recalls.

I knew I’d have support. It was the best decision to do it at the same time. It brought the family together.

Dawud at first considered law school but thought there would be more opportunities in business. “I didn’t want to pursue an MBA without my wife because I had heard her talk about it so much,” he says.

The Concord, North Carolina, couple enrolled in Poole’s program as full-time, online students and will finish in December. 

“I needed Dawud’s motivation and coaching, and he’s leaned on some of my expertise from being in corporate America,” says Tianah, who works for the medical device company Medtronic.  

They chose Poole’s program because they wanted an in-state school with a strong career services department. And they appreciate that NC State is military-friendly. 

Dawud, who served in the Army, has connected with veterans in the MBA program. “There’s a comradery in reaching out to them,” he says. “It’s been good to relate to other vets who are adjusting to the corporate world.”

Like Tianah, Dawud is working full time in addition to graduate school. What he’s learned in the MBA program, through the residency, a practicum and classes, has given him confidence, in his role as a case manager with Lincoln Financial Group, to be a productive team member with strategies to address business challenges.  

In her Medtronic position, Tianah has made suggestions related to setting prices and strategic planning, based on what she’s learned at Poole.        

“When you’ve been in corporate America for a while, you know one track of expertise. The biggest advantage with an MBA is that you can stop, pivot and go a different direction. It has made me more marketable, more knowledgeable and more valuable to my company,” Tianah says.

The opportunities will become endless after I have the MBA.

Pursuing an MBA together — and the flexibility the online program provides — have been key for the Washingtons. “The program is difficult. It takes stamina to finish,” Dawud says. “Moral support is the most important thing. There’s somebody in the same house who understands what you’re going through.”

Zandra McKenzie Benefits from Her Husband’s Jenkins MBA Experience

Zandra and Zach McKenzie

Among the best aspects of Jenkins online MBA program for Zandra McKenzie are that it allows her to continue working full time and accommodates her family’s needs. 

Zandra wants an MBA to prepare herself for new challenges and potential opportunities. She chose Poole’s program because her husband, Zack, had a great experience in the program.

“Seeing what the MBA did for him and his career…and being able to balance both of us working with three kids while settling into a new role at my workplace — that flexibility is key,” says Zandra, an operations director with the health insurance company Anthem Inc.

The MBA program already has paid off for her. She credits her graduate studies with having a role in her recent promotion. And she can apply what she’s learning in her new position. “It’s been helpful to gain an overarching business perspective…on how to best utilize everyone’s abilities to drive goals forward, using a strategic mindset,” says Zandra, who will finish the Jenkins MBA in 2022. 

For Zack, who completed his full-time MBA program in 2019, the degree helped him find employment in supply chain management and qualified him for a leadership development program with Eaton Corp., an electrical and electronics manufacturer.

Zack cites the experience he gained in three paid MBA supply chain internships as particularly valuable.      

For the McKenzies, of Holly Springs, North Carolina, spousal support has been crucial to success in the Jenkins program.

“We couldn’t justify giving up my salary for me to do the program full time,” Zandra says.

It’s important knowing Zack is here to support the workload around the house, so I can devote my evenings to school.

Based on his experience in the program, Zack helps Zandra choose some of her classes to manage her MBA workload and still allow them family time. 

“It has been really helpful to have his insight,” she says. “Doing the program at separate times has ended up being best for our family.”

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