Mike Morris had his sights set on an MBA degree for a long time, but the obligations of work and military service – Morris holds the rank of colonel in the US Army Reserve – meant that had to be put on hold. When the time was right, Morris chose UConn – and found a seamless process from application to acceptance to support in course work and studies in the School of Business’ Online MBA program. And although the OMBA program is designed for non-traditional students, Morris was still able to take advantage of a familiar student activity: an immersive trip to study abroad, in Europe and North Africa. Having been elected to the UConn School of Business Student Hall of Fame, he’s looking forward to the next goal in life.
Why did you choose UConn?
Completing an MBA has been a passionate goal of mine that has had to take a back seat to life and professional responsibilities for a long time. In choosing a school, I was diligent in researching business schools and the structure of their programs. The UConn Business School faculty is exceptional, the structure of the part time program was a good fit for my available time bandwidth, and the part-time program itself is ranked very high compared to other similar programs. When I found out about the OMBA program structure, I was completely sold that UConn was the school for me.
Did you have a favorite professor or class?
It would be too hard to choose a favorite professor or class. What stands out in my mind is being challenged by Dr. Lerman and Professor Bailey in accounting and finance which was incredibly helpful in growing my understanding of the principles of both. And Dr. Methesani delivering the theory and study of management and leadership behavior in practical terms and strategies that were so immediately useful in the management and coordination of such a large and diverse staff at the refugee resettlement camps in which I was serving at the time. And certainly Dr. Berger-Walliser’s mentorship in both the core business law course as well as the international aspects of business and business law during the France/Morocco trip.
What activities were you involved in as a student?
As an OMBA student, there is a bit of distance from the traditional activities of school, but I did participate in the Business School study abroad opportunity to France and Morocco which was an invaluable experience.
What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?
I have been away from civilian formal education for quite a while. What surprised and impressed about UConn was the seamless coordination of the application and acceptance process and the access to the material and services and support mechanisms to succeed. To be able to jump into graduate level education after so many years being away and be able to immediately and easily engage and be successful reflects the exceptional work of the University and the Business School staff.
Any advice for incoming students?
My advice to incoming students is two-fold. First, network your fellow cohort students immediately and communicate extensively. It can be a grueling process at times when the challenges of the courses as well as life and work responsibilities compete for your time. Close ties, group motivation, and teamwork is critical to gaining all you can from the experience and finishing. The mantra must be keep moving forward. Second, dig in and make the most of the opportunity! There are few times in your life where such extraordinary mentors, material, programs of instruction, fellow cohort students, and resources are so specifically focused on you to make you better. Do the reading, do the optional reading, read all the discussion boards, push yourself and your cohort members to a deeper understanding of the subjects and to develop the quality of deliverables you’d expect of yourself in the most important of jobs. Dig in!
What’s one thing everyone should do during their time at UConn?
Every student should take advantage of the study abroad opportunities that UConn has been able to bring back. My experience was an immersive 15 days in Europe and North Africa with a group of 20 extremely impressive graduate student professionals, professors, and staff with a very diverse set of skills, experiences, and disciplines. The compound learning I experienced between the course of instruction, the experiences in other countries and cultures, and the exchange of ideas and experiences and views was invaluable.
What will always make you think of UConn?
My favorite UConn memory will be working with two extremely impressive Moroccan PhD candidates in a business incubator environment in Marrakesh who had a solution to serious water purification problems in their region that could have a titanic impact on the future of agriculture and productivity throughout Morocco and possibly arid North Africa. When we were able to combine their phenomenal understanding of the problem and their amazing solution with the marketing, analytics, and business structure skills and experience and advice of my UConn MBA student small group, I firmly believe a new business was born that day that will eventually benefit millions of people in Africa.