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Lessons Outside of the Classroom

by Kimberly Rios '13

I was both extremely anxious and excited when my flight landed in Washington, D.C., on that Tuesday afternoon in April. Having never really ventured out of California nor traveled by plane before, this journey to the East Coast represented a major milestone in my life. The trip also marked the culmination of my graduate degree from Azusa Pacific University’s Young Executive Master of Arts in Management (YEMAM) program. After 10 months of intensive and practical class work, including consulting projects with Kaiser Permanente and Target, I embarked on this trip across the country to enhance my education and practice the skills I had learned.

I traveled alongside my cohort of 19 YEMAM students and two business professors, Thomas Cairns, DBA, and Roxanne Helms-Stevens, DBA. Each morning, we gathered together in our suits, prepared to meet and network with professionals from a variety of companies and industries. During the six days I spent in our nation's capital, I met with representatives from a diverse variety of organizations, including the United States Supreme Court; the International Republican Institute, which advances freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties and open elections; and Street Sense, a bi-weekly street newspaper that offers economic opportunities and a voice to people experiencing homelessness in the community. Along with interacting with professionals, our cohort bonded with one another and we learned from our professors on a personal level. Each day brought new insights into what it truly means to serve as a leader and as a manager, in both large and small organizations.

On Monday morning, the second part of the adventure began as we gathered together on a train to our next destination: New York City. As a hub for some of the largest businesses in the country and in the world, New York City provided a wealth of opportunities including visits to the National Football League, NBC Universal (where Professor Cairns once served as the senior vice president of human resources), and the USB Host at the New York Stock Exchange. While in the Big Apple, I also attended a Broadway show, grabbed a slice at the very first pizza restaurant in the U.S., explored the brightly-lit Times Square, and spent time reflecting and praying at the World Trade Center Memorial.

As my trip concluded, and I boarded a plane back to Los Angeles, I was deeply grateful for a program that allowed me to travel across the country, enhance my worldview, and learn from individuals with decades of experience. As I finish my second degree and my fifth year at APU, I realize that I have gained much by experiencing the world firsthand. This trip provided me and my fellow students with more than just simple meet-and-greets. It enabled us to grow and form relationships with business professionals and, especially, with one another. It provided our group with a chance to learn about topics that will help us succeed in the future, including how to dress for a formal interview, how to introduce ourselves to potential employers, and how to channel our talents and goals into dream jobs.

The classroom provided great lessons for me, but these field experiences allowed me to take what I had learned and develop it into something much greater, so that I’m prepared to enter the business world as a focused and goal-oriented scholar.