2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Jade Surela P. West, University of Arizona (Eller)

Jade Surela P. West

University of Arizona, Eller College of Management

“Officer, warfighter, mother, wife –A servant leader passionate about protecting and empowering my people.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Buena Park, California

Fun fact about yourself: I swam in the deepest part of the world’s oceans known as the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Naval Academy, Bachelor of Science Oceanography

Where are you currently working? I work for the United States Navy, currently at the Surface Warfare Officer School, Newport Rhode Island, for Department Head School. Upon completing the Department Head training pipeline, I will report to USS MICHAEL MURPHY, a guided-missile destroyer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to be the Weapons Officer.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Over the last eight years in the Navy, I have gained extensive experience in managing teams, learning quickly, responding under pressure, and making decisions in ever-changing and dangerous environments. I have gained these skills by leading multiple, diverse divisions in training and real-world scenarios

I served as the Damage Control Assistant onboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62), from May 2015 to September 2016. Many of my Sailors were onboard the ship at the time of the ship’s collision in June 2017 and were critical to saving the ship and her crew. I was honored to return to Yokosuka, Japan, with the Pacific Fleet Commander to remember and pay respects to my former Sailors and attend the memorial for the seven Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice and perished during the collision.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? The Eller College of Management was my first choice for my business education. With my interest in finance, I was particularly attracted to Eller’s world-class reputation and demonstrated commitment to financial research. Through a combination of its diverse curriculum, flexibility, workshops, and overwhelming support as a “Military-Friendly School,” I honed my financial skills and learned how to apply my knowledge in a challenging setting.

Eller’s use of complex real-world projects and analytical tools enhanced my decision-making skills through optimization, modeling, and managing uncertainty. Simply, Eller MBA offered me the most flexible and prestigious MBA option that allowed me to earn my degree while serving active duty. The areas of concentration aligned with my interests and enabled me to achieve duel concentrations in finance and management information systems within eighteen months.

I was surprised at how much it teaches students to figure things out on their own. This has been incredibly valuable in my work life, and something that online students don’t get credit for. Because our teachers are not physically there and available whenever we have questions, it forces us to learn to find information on our own when we are stuck. Pruitt, AZ State

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? At first, I was hesitant that I would not enjoy an online learning environment, but I discovered that I loved it! By attending Eller’s online MBA program, I was able to meet and work with classmates from all over the world with various professional backgrounds and allowed me to truly appreciate the diversity of experience and knowledge that I was able to receive at my convenience—all without sacrificing the quality of education.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student?
I was able to save time by not having to commute to attend an in-the-classroom class, and I found myself being more focused when doing my course work because I had to very consciously decide for myself when I would “attend” my classes, study, and dedicate time to learn.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Have a reliable support network! Remain vigilant and actively engaged to reap the maximum benefits of each course. Never limit yourself in obtaining the true potential of your education and put extra thought and time into discussion posts to gain further insight into other’s perspectives.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would offer MBA students more resume review service and additional professional workshops available online.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My fascination with business, direct interaction with people, management – coupled with the view of the Navy as a provider of products that meet customer needs – has motivated me to understand and influence my own capabilities and limitations. Team management is required in both my previous positions in the Navy and my desired post-MBA profession. By teaching me the art of leadership and managing ethics in organizations, as well as providing me a strong financial and information systems curriculum to build from, Eller OMBA was the link in the chain that leveraged my past experiences and propelled me to take a giant leap toward accomplishing my goals.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  I want to retain the passion for continued service where I can dedicate myself to a meaningful profession that positively impacts future generations—whether that means advancing to leadership positions in a business setting or commanding a US Navy warship.

Don’t Miss: The Entire Honor Roll of the Best & Brightest Online MBA Grads of 2020

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