Kristi Radebaugh wasn’t looking for a new job when she returned to school for an MBA. She was looking for a new beginning.
“It just kind of gave me a new opportunity,” Radebaugh said. “I had the freedom to do what I wanted. I thought, ‘It will help me if I ever relocated and also with my job.'”
In May 2017, Radebaugh will graduate from Southeastern Oklahoma State University with a Master of Business Administration focused on Management that she earned online.
Radebaugh is the Vice President of Operations for Larco Enterprises in Miami, Oklahoma. The company where she has worked for 20 years owns and operates several Sonic Drive-Ins.
“The program has really been beneficial to my actual role with my company,” she said. “It’s been a great experience. I’m glad I chose to do it. It’s helped me more than I thought it would. In my mind, I have gained the experience of what this program means, and now I’m doing the bookwork and learning the terms.”
Radebaugh originally planned to become an actuary after she earned a bachelor’s degree in math with a minor in statistics from Oklahoma State University in 1996.
“I took the actuary test and didn’t pass it,” she said. “We ended up here in Miami, Oklahoma; I was married at the time. There really aren’t a lot of options in Miami.”
She landed a job at Larco Enterprises with the help of one of her former instructors at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (where she started college). NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale helped connect Radebaugh with SOSU MBA Director Robert Howard. Hale also wrote her a letter of recommendation for admission.
“My boyfriend [Steve Bashore] was helping me research different universities,” she said. “He was the one who found this program and said, ‘Kristi, this is a really good program.’ Basically, Southeastern Oklahoma State University is a good accredited school for the online program. I had to do online.”
Radebaugh said that once she began the master’s degree program, she was able to balance her job and schoolwork after a period of adjustment.
“I work from 9 until 6, and then I go home and do homework all evening,” she said. “That’s basically every day. I had to really keep track of my deadlines so I wouldn’t miss any of them. A lot of times I couldn’t do homework during the daytime, so I had to do it all at night.”
As a result, she was able to sharpen her organizational skills.
“It made me look at my time management a little differently and just being more organized, going, ‘Okay, I need to go home and do this tonight.’ Or ‘I need to leave work at five today — I can’t work until six. I’ve got to get home and get this project completed,'” she said.
Relearning to Learn
Radebaugh said she was able to adapt to the online format after a few early bumps.
“My family was very proud of me,” she said. “It takes guts to go back after twenty-some years. It’s difficult. When I first started, it was a little discouraging. I wondered, ‘How do I take this test?’ Or, ‘How do I upload this assignment?’ It was totally different from just using a book and paper. That was a little frustrating. In my first class, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, am I even going to get a B in this?'”
However, given her undergraduate background, Radebaugh thrived in the MBA program’s math-based courses.
“My harder courses were the ones where I had to read, retain the information and take the test,” she said. “If I didn’t read the same night I took the test, I was doomed because I do so much multi-tasking at work and have so much stuff in my brain.
“Dr. C.W. Von Bergen is by far the hardest instructor in this program. I did not know if I was going to get a B in his class. He is difficult, but he made me work and he made me think out of the box. Behavioral Management [MNGT 5223] was the most difficult course I had. It’s very fresh in my mind because I had it last semester.”
Part of Radebaugh’s motivation to earn an MBA comes from her desire to set an example for her two children, Maci Nolan (24) and Tyler Radebaugh (18). Nolan has an education degree and is planning a career switch to dental hygienist, while Tyler is enrolled at the University of Oklahoma and plans to become a meteorologist.
“It’s good to be a role model for your children and say, ‘You can get a degree at any age. You can go back to school and do it any time. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You should never stop learning. You should continually be trying to make yourself better,'” she said.
Radebaugh is an avid runner who has completed two half-marathons. She is also a former all-state softball pitcher and basketball player who remains a big sports fan and loves to read.
“I like to go to sporting events, football games,” she said. “We go to OSU football games. My boyfriend has a degree from [the University of] Miami in Florida, so we go watch the Oklahoma State Cowboys or the Miami Hurricanes play. He graduated last May in Sports Administration. I started in October 2014; he started in January 2015 and beat me.”
Radebaugh believes returning to school is well worth the time and effort.
“You have to be dedicated,” Radebaugh said. “Make sure you’re managing your time and are organized. Don’t give up. It gets frustrating, but don’t give up. If this is something you’re going to set your heart out to do, then do it. That’s kind of how I felt.”
Reflecting on her transition from ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t do this’ to ‘Hey, I can do this. I’m almost done,’ Radebaugh says, “Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Always set higher goals for yourself. Continuing your education is never a bad thing. You can always improve on yourself.”
Learn more about the SOSU online MBA with an emphasis on management program.
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