Recent graduates share how a Kennesaw State MBA changed their careers


(Jan 28, 2022)
— When LaRell Reynolds began his graduate education in August 2019, he hoped to supplement
his journalism career with insight and expertise in business. But his experience in
Kennesaw State University’s WebMBA program changed his mind.

Recent graduates share how a Kennesaw State MBA changed their careers
LaRell Reynolds

During an internship with USAA marketing, Reynolds said he saw how he could use his
MBA experience and still flex his creative muscles in a career field he enjoyed.

He said he loved the flexibility that KSU’s online program gave him, allowing him
to balance his education with a busy journalism career and experience little interruption
when the pandemic began. Reynolds also said faculty’s professional experience was
obvious, with lessons pulled from their personal moments of success and challenges.

“The whole experience made me realize I could enjoy a career in business,” he said.

And KSU’s MBA program in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, which has been recognized multiple times as one of the best in the nation and across the globe, has delivered, he added. Upon
graduation over the summer, Reynolds landed a position in Philadelphia in JP Morgan
Chase’s Chase Associate Program. He’ll rotate through different roles in the company,
working full time before graduating to a vice president role.

Reynolds said when he began looking for job opportunities in the business world, he
found himself competing with students from top schools, including Ivy League universities.
But, with his experience from KSU’s degree, he said he was able to compete with the

“These MBA programs open up the door. Companies look for people in that period where
they want to transition, and they want to scoop up as much talent as possible,” Reynolds
said. “KSU was great, because I got to leverage it being an affordable program with
the flexibility and then I got to pivot into doing something that’s fun and interesting.”

‘I received almost an immediate return on my investment’

Sonia Bell
Sonia Bell

Sonia Bell, a July MBA graduate, said she entered the program to ensure her skills
could keep up with the need to balance multiple projects, as well as to learn financial
management, analytics and operations management as her career moved forward.

The program paid off for her before it was even over, she said.

Bell received a promotion at her job overseeing the business side of Emory University’s
multiple projects surrounding battling the spread of harmful diseases while she was
still taking classes. Then, just months later and after she’d graduated, Bell accepted
a job with the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Ga CORE), as vice president for administration.

“I received almost an immediate return on my investment in my education,” Bell said. 

And like Reynolds, Bell said Kennesaw State faculty members’ business experience —
from owning small businesses to their successful careers in corporate America — made
their teachings both personal and academic. 

 ‘A great asset for me’

Zandro Zaragoza, also a July MBA graduate, earned a promotion from a business analyst
job to a project manager role at Kimberly-Clark Professional upon his graduation.

Zandro Zaragoza
Zandro Zaragoza

Zaragoza began a dual degree program in 2018, combining an information systems master’s
with an MBA. He took a break in 2019 and finished up the degrees in 2021. He said
he chose Kennesaw State for its reputation, affordability and ability to provide new
career opportunities.

“I thought this would be a great asset for me to have,” he said. “I wanted to move
more into a business role and leadership role.”

Zaragoza said he was surprised to find some of the misconceptions he had about going
back to school were wrong when he found he was in class with students of varying ages
and from varying industries. It was that breadth of backgrounds and knowledge that
he said proved the program aligned with the goals he had for his career.

“Overall, the program really helped me improve my knowledge of finance, accounting,
marketing and business practices that we have at Kimberly-Clark,” he said. “It helps
me understand exactly why employers are looking for people with an MBA. You get that
breadth of different areas of the business.”

A common thread for success

Dennis Marrow, executive director for the MBA program, said reports of alumni receiving
promotions and landing new jobs shortly after graduation is common.

He said the experiences of Bell, Reynolds and Zaragoza mirror what many Kennesaw State
MBA students experience, often even before they graduate – the realization of career
goals. Those results are rewarding for the MBA faculty in the Coles College of Business,
he said.

“Because our students are able to put newly acquired knowledge into practice in their
jobs immediately, the great majority of KSU MBA students achieve some measure of their
desired outcome long before completing their degrees,” Marrow said. “The real cachet
of the KSU MBA  is the outcomes our students achieve during and after completing their course of
study. Our graduates’ success is our success.”

– Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Jason Getz

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit