As a systems engineer, math major, nuclear reactor operator and mother of two small children, there isn’t much that Kenyetta Barnes fears. Except, she laughs, quantitative subjects, like accounting and finance, despite her strong math background.
“Accounting and math are completely different,” she says. “I always had this fear of those types of classes.”
But because Barnes wasn’t afraid of a challenge, she decided to enroll in the online MBA program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Classes started while her active military husband was deployed, leaving her at home with the two kids and full-time employment.
“I like the challenge,” she says. “It’s definitely rewarding.”
The online part was important because she needed the flexibility. Smith’s program offered her concentration — information systems and analytics — to be completed at an accelerated 21 months. Once she started, she felt a great deal of support and collaboration from her classmates, who understood the day-to-day challenges of juggling multiple responsibilities.
Challenges are what drive Barnes, who joined the Navy in 2003 and was selected for the nuclear power program — a four-year-program condensed into two years. After completion of the program, she became a nuclear reactor operator for nearly 10 years. After transitioning from the military, Barnes began working in systems engineering and eventually found her way into her current job at MI Technical Solutions, where she performs installations, manages the company’s help desk and handles a lot of data and analytics.
She finds that her concurrent classwork helped her in the office. “I look at things differently, more from a management perspective,” she says. “I’m able to use the data and analyze trends and report back to my boss whether something is a recurring issue or an isolated incident.” But she notes that things shift rapidly in her world. “Information systems and business analytics are so data-driven these days. There is always new information to be gleaned.”
For that reason, she feels better prepared thanks to her MBA. And as for those accounting and finance classes: “They just clicked and made sense,” she says. “I felt accomplished.”
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.