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Student Spotlight

NECB Student Spotlight: Veronica Achieves MBA While Working Full-Time as a Nurse and Raising Daughter

by Stephanie Lines, Marketing Communications Manager
NECB MBA Student, Veronica Paolantonio with Daughter

NECB: Why did you decide to attend NECB?

Veronica: As a single Mom with a full-time job in healthcare, I needed a MBA program that was easily accessible and gave me the flexibility to fit it into my busy life. And thankfully, I didn’t have to look far. NECB attended an open house for continuing education where I am currently employed. NECB offered a 25% tuition discount should the hospital become a corporate partner with the College, and of course we did! What (really) sealed the deal for me was that they let me keep their pen. Now I know that sounds silly, but I’m a nurse, and we’re always looking for pens. In fact, I like the pen so much, I still use it to this day! Maybe I’ll get another one for graduation (hint-hint, wink-wink).

NECB: What advice would you give to someone who is considering going to NECB?

Veronica: Be ready to dedicate the time and patience it will take to be successful in this program. Don’t wait to the last minute to start your coursework. Instead, plan ahead to stay on top of your readings and weekly discussions.

If you’re having any difficulties at all, reach out to your advisor, they’re amazing (Hi, Bill!). Undergrads, Stephanie is equally amazing (Hey, Steph!). The professors, advisors and staff are invaluable and want to hear from you. Reach out with your comments, questions or concerns. They’re there to teach, guide and provide support to help you be successful.

NECB: What advice would you give to students to be successful with online learning? Any challenges you had to overcome? Or any misconceptions you had going in that turned out to be untrue?

Veronica: As above, stay ahead of the game. Check in regularly, and do not forget to check your school email. My biggest challenges were learning new forms of web-based tools such as Prezi and Tableau. However, I am so grateful that I can add these skills to my resume.

At the beginning of each course, the entire syllabus is laid out with each week’s deadlines, so you can plan ahead which means there are no surprises. If anyone knows me, I hear I’m a bit of an overachiever, so most people will find the time management of classes quite easy week to week.

NECB: How do you juggle/manage being a student while working and trying to balance everything? Any tips you can share with future/current NECB Students?

Veronica: Chocolate, vacation time and a little wine (no judgment, please). I found that planning weekly meals ahead of time really helped save time during the week for other things. There will also be times you’ll want to go out, but you can’t because you have to study. Those are the moments it’s good to remind yourself why you decided to go to college and that this is not forever.

For students looking to get ahead of their work, once you finish a week’s assignments, I’d recommend moving on to the next week’s coursework. Of course, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes you just need to push the books and computer aside to spend some quality time with your family and friends, and sometimes there will be days they are doing things and you need to finish an exam. You must set your priorities to achieve your goals and also do what is right for you. Because in the end, you will only have yourself to answer to about how you did and if you could have done better.

Alexa has also been a great timekeeper for me. I’ll set aside an hour for school work, then an hour of playing with the kids and maybe 15 minutes of housework.

NECB: What was the #1 thing you’ll take away from your time at NECB?

Veronica: Aside from that sweet degree, I’ll take away all of the phenomenal connections I’ve made, and the amazing people I’ve had the honor of working with and learning alongside for the last 18 months. It’s funny, because NECB is 100% online, I actually haven’t met any of them, yet I feel such a strong connection to several of them. I know many of us will keep in touch with each other, and I look forward to meeting some of them at graduation.

NECB: What does graduating with your degree mean to you?

Veronica: The last time I graduated was in 2016 with my bachelor’s in nursing. This MBA took much more effort and dedication on my part than it did getting my bachelor’s degree as well as requiring me to not spend as much time with my daughter, family and friends, which was difficult at times. To finally be done and almost at graduation, I have a great sense of accomplishment and pride. I’ve shown my daughter that no matter your age you should never give up on yourself and that we are capable of great things, even when we feel it is not attainable. In my wildest dreams, I never thought at the age of 50-something (I’ll leave it at that) I would have gone back to college and be graduating with my Master’s in Business Administration degree.

NECB: What’s your goal(s) / plan(s) once you graduate?

Veronica: I will take a slight hiatus to enjoy some quality time with my 13-year-old daughter, visiting family, enjoying the Rhode Island beaches, and catching up with friends (which I’ve been putting off for a year and a half.) After that is done and my daughter heads back to school, I’m starting school again in the Fall to prepare for the Lean Six Sigma exam to sit for the certification exam in 2020.

NECB: Have you noticed if the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired at NECB have helped with your performance at work? If so, how?

Veronica: I find myself recognizing things I didn’t before and having a completely different outlook.

For example, the other day I noticed hospital staff from a different unit were “borrowing” supplies. I kindly asked if they were keeping a tab of what their unit was lacking and what was being utilized so they could properly plan and order the right supplies. It turns out they weren’t keeping tabs and had been told to go ahead and take things from my unit.

The reason this is an issue is that there are two separate budgets for the two units. When the other unit opened a short time ago, they were told to take what they needed from my unit until they were up and running to save time.

There was a lack of communication and a misunderstanding between the departments. I quickly brought this to the attention of my unit’s floor manager, whose budget this directly impacted, so she could work to find a resolution. Thankfully, the right stakeholders met and put everyone on the same page.

Before my classes at NECB, I wouldn’t have thought twice about staff taking what they needed without the concern of how it impacted the budget. As a nurse, if you need it, you need it. However, in these times where we are trying to be as efficient as possible while minimizing expenses, it makes all the difference when looking at this from a more holistic, big picture perspective.

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