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Active duty and active education

November 11th, 2019

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DBA student Kate Nelson

Pursuing extended education can be extremely challenging for the average person, let alone those in demanding careers. However, Kate Nelson, an active duty Military Intelligence Officer, is proving this to be more than possible.

Captain Nelson is in her 15th year of military service and has accomplished two master’s degrees: one in military studies and the other in sports management. Now, she is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) here at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

The Fox editorial team caught up with Captain Nelson to hear about her experience of earning her doctorate in business while actively serving in the U.S. Army. 

What made you want to pursue a DBA? 

I knew I wanted to get my doctorate. But I thought [I’d do it] when I got out, maybe take a year or two off,” Nelson says. It wasn’t until her boss, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Faint, also a current Fox student, informed her about the DBA program.

She recalls thinking, “‘You can’t do this while active. That’s ridiculous.’ But he sat me down, told me the pros and cons, wrote me a letter of recommendation, and here I am.” 

The Executive DBA program aims to help executive-level managers and experienced service members like Nelson learn how to solve business problems through advanced critical reasoning. As a first-year student, Nelson plans to research how people consume both women’s and men’s sports differently. She also credits her pursuit of advanced education to her training in the military.

“The U.S. military is the most educated and trained military in the world,” Nelson says. “They always tell us to better ourselves and look for the next step in our career. I was always taught that every day you should learn something.”

How does military experience translate to business?

“My experience isn’t in business, but it is translating because I’m managing hundreds of soldiers,” Nelson explains. “Some businesses look at the military and how it runs, and they use us as an example. So, I can actually speak to that in class.”

According to Cailin DiGiacomo, admissions coordinator for the DBA program, “The current cohort has 22 students, all coming from drastically different industries. Several come from a military background.”

DiGiacomo guides prospective students through the application process, helping them understand how the Executive DBA program can teach them to expand their decision-making abilities through applied theory and research.

How do busy professionals find time to pursue a DBA?

“Our program is very flexible. During each semester, we have three weekend residencies. We send the dates out to our students in the summer so they can plan around it. Then, there’s a weekly online component as well,” says DiGiacomo.

Nelson agrees. “The curriculum is basically a long weekend six times a year. We get thirty days of leave every year that we can use, so it really isn’t too bad.”

This degree seems suitable for people like Captain Nelson, who have very demanding work schedules but are passionate about furthering their careers in business. With the DBA program, she finds time to both manage her soldiers and manage her education.

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