Stephanie Metts has always considered herself an introvert.
“I always preferred to be the person ‘behind the scenes’ and not in the spotlight. In some ways, I still do,” she said.
Metts arrived at Southeastern Oklahoma State University looking to become a Certified Public Accountant. She remained after earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) online in 2008.
Metts, who grew up in Durant, worked as a graduate assistant for the John Massey School of Business. She is currently a special assistant to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) coordinator and a temporary full-time instructor. Plus, she somehow also still does CPA work on the side.
“I actually love it,” Metts said of teaching. “I’m glad I got the opportunity. I’m considering getting my doctorate and would like to attend an AACSB accredited program. This means going the traditional brick and mortar route which will not be an option until my son, my youngest, gets out of high school.”
Her daughter, Michaela, is attending pharmacy school at the University of Oklahoma, while Jonathan is a senior in high school.
A Twist of Fate
Metts earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from SOSU in 2006, but the State of Oklahoma required an additional 30 hours to qualify to sit for the CPA exam.
“The MBA coordinator at the time, Dr. Will Mawer, advised me,” Metts said. “He said, ‘Instead of 30 additional undergraduate hours, why don’t you go the MBA route? It is 36 hours, which is six more than you need, but you’ll have an advanced degree when you get finished. Plus, a MBA will provide you with additional career opportunities.’”
At the time, the format for the MBA was 16-week semesters, alternating between online and on campus. However, it worked out that all of Metts’s courses were online. SOSU online MBA terms are now seven weeks in duration.
“When I first got into it, I was a little apprehensive.” Metts said. “I work with numbers; I don’t do well with writing. I remember going into [Dr. Mawer’s] office and telling him, ‘You didn’t tell me how writing intensive this would be.’ I was working about 30 hours a week, had two kids and a husband and the normal domestic duties. He said, ‘It’s doable. It’s doable.’ Of course, it became doable. The more you do, the easier it becomes.”
After leaving her job as a bookkeeper for a medical clinic, Metts became a graduate assistant in the business department, which gave her some additional insight while she worked toward the MBA.
“It was good that I was here,” Metts said. “It was convenient having online courses, but accounting and finance is difficult in an online environment. Being onsite gave me the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the faculty.”
When she graduated in 2008, Dr. Walter “Buddy” Gaster was dean of the school of business and Dr. Mawer was the coordinator of the AACSB accreditation committee. Metts assisted them in the reporting requirements for their initial AACSB accreditation, and they asked her to stay with the school and continue to help them with the AACSB accreditation maintenance while she studied for her CPA exam.
A New Chapter
Metts had taught some courses as an adjunct before two last minute full-time teaching vacancies in the department left a need for a temporary full-time faculty member.
“The dean at the time asked me if I would be interested in trying full-time teaching,” Metts said. “I was like, ‘Sure.’ I’m glad I did it. I knew going in it was just temporary until they hired new professors, which they did this semester. That way I could know if I liked it or not. Prior to getting the opportunity to teach full-time, I always considered getting my doctorate. Then, I was like, ‘What if I don’t like teaching? Because that’s the main reason anybody gets a doctorate.’”
And even though she is still not big on being in front of people, Metts quickly discovered teaching was right up her alley.
“I was getting a lot of feedback from the students who were enjoying it,” she said. “I thought it would be tough, but it kind of came naturally. I kind of surprised myself.”
Metts, whose temporary full-time teaching contract is set to expire in May 2017, has taught several accounting courses during her tenure. She is also still working part time for the AACSB committee, which she thinks will extend beyond the 2016-2017 school year.
“I found out ten days before the start of the semester I had to teach Accounting Information Systems,” Metts said. “That one was challenging, but in the end the students said they learned a lot. I had to prep a lot for that one because I only had ten days. The accounting information system book I had years ago was a lot different than this one. It was a challenge, but I don’t shy away from challenges.”
Even with her two jobs at SOSU, Metts still maintains the books for three of her husband’s family businesses — a farm equipment company, a cattle ranch and a power line contracting company. But she believes she could end up teaching full time while still doing her CPA work in the future.
“It’s definitely down the road,” Metts said. “I suspect the family businesses will be for the long haul, so I’ll have to do something where I’ll have time for both. Teaching is not just 9 to 5. You go to class and have your office hours, but you spend a lot of time on the nights and weekends prepping — making tests and grading tests and answering correspondence from students. But besides the class schedules, teaching offers the flexibility in my weekday work schedule which affords me the opportunity to be on site for some of the company work.”
The Right Decision
In addition to providing the opportunity for Metts to branch out into a new career, earning an MBA online provided her with an even stronger work ethic.
“It’s going to be challenging,” Metts said. “I missed out on a lot of my kids’ stuff while I was studying for my CPA and getting my MBA. I missed their extracurricular activities and some family activities. So, you have to think about what does your MBA cost you? Going in, you need to know it’s not going to be easy. It’s an advanced degree! It’s challenging, but it’s worth it. Don’t go into it thinking that you’re just going to have to spend a few hours a week on it.”
Even though the online MBA program has changed quite a bit since Metts graduated, she said the degree has paid big dividends and provided her with greater perspective.
“I learned a lot by seeing how it all comes together — the marketing, management, finance and accounting,” Metts said. “In my undergrad years, my perspective was that accounting was the only subject that mattered. After all, my major was accounting. I completed the other subject matter courses required for the degree but didn’t allow myself to see how it is all integrated in business. My MBA courses rectified that thinking. I’m glad I did it. ”
Perhaps one day she’ll even get a little bit of free time.
“I read a lot of spiritual books,” she said. “I try to start and end my day spending time and thanking God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me. When given the opportunity, I like playing, what my husband, Jeff, calls B-O-R-E-D games, but I call them B-O-A-R-D games. I prefer the traditional games to the technology that everybody plays now.”
Learn more about the SOSU online MBA program.