Jeanne Maitland was persuaded to follow her own advice. She had encouraged her daughter, Jasmine, who already had earned an undergraduate degree in business administration, to pursue her master’s degree. Turning the tables on her mother, Jasmine said, “You should, too.”
Proving there is no age limit when it comes to education, or listening to a mother’s words of wisdom, 64-year-old Jeanne will be awarded her master’s degree in business administration right alongside her 24-year-old daughter in commencement ceremonies Saturday at Southern Oregon University.
“My mom’s been the greatest role model,” said Jasmine. “She was a huge inspiration for me. She always stressed the importance of obtaining an M.B.A., if business was the path I chose.”
Jeanne says she thought that an M.B.A. would give her daughter an edge in management in any industry. When she “hit the ceiling” in her career in health care management, she was encouraged to follow her own advice.
And, while she had obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Cal Poly in Pomona, California, “years ago” and had experience as an assistant hospital administrator, Jeanne knew without an M.B.A. or the credentials of a certified public accountant, her career was at a dead-end.
She said her first thought, however, wasn’t, “Hey, why not go for it!”
“It was more like ‘Why not? I am too old — that’s why not!’ ” said Jeanne.
With her daughter’s encouragement, she accepted the challenge.
“My mom’s proof that there is no age limit on learning,” said Jasmine.
The Maitlands are among the 1,100 students who will participate in Saturday’s commencement at SOU, and two of the 184 receiving graduate degrees.
A master of business administration degree gives students a broad knowledge of the major functions and practices of a business, from accounting and finance to organizational behavior and information systems. Leadership training, teamwork and courses in ethics and effective communication are embedded in the program.
“It was an interesting program,” said Jeanne. “It was a lot of hard work, too.”
The greatest challenge, she said, was “learning to write (research papers) again” and navigating the internet.
“I love to learn. And there are so many wonderful tools, systems and computer programs used today in management. It was fascinating.”
Being on a college campus and experiencing campus life was enthralling, she added.
“At first, I asked myself ‘What am I doing here?’ ”
“But, I was well-received by the young people and accepted,” she continued. “I was so impressed by the younger people I met. It was very refreshing.
“If I hadn’t done this (program), I would have never known such a hard-working, creative and innovative group.”
Perhaps, however, there is no young person more impressive than her own daughter.
Jasmine, a 2010 graduate of South Medford High School, completed her certified nursing assistant training while attending SOU as a full-time student in the master’s program.
“The CNA class would begin at 8 a.m. and go until 5 p.m.; I would have class for my M.B.A. from 6 to 9 p.m.,” she said. “I still managed to earn a 4.0 that term.”
In her “spare time,” she also worked as an internship assistant in the School of Business throughout the two-year program.
She earned a certificate in Management Information Systems and was recognized as the Outstanding Student in Business Information Systems during the 2016-17 academic year.
Her success is especially remarkable considering she never intended to pursue a business degree.
“Initially, I thought I was interested in practicing medicine,” she said.
She received her undergraduate degree in business studies in 2015 from SOU, and then enrolled in the M.B.A. program with her mother’s prompting.
“Both of my parents have been incredibly supportive regarding me furthering my education,” she said.
The Maitlands were a dynamic duo among the M.B.A. cohort.
“Jeanne and Jasmine are both bright, hard-working, and downright enthusiastic, so it's been a joy to work with both of them,” said Katie Pittman, associate professor in SOU’s School of Business. “I've known Jasmine since she was an undergraduate business major here, and it's been such a privilege to participate in her development and watch her transform into such a talented and confident young woman over the past few years.
“Jeanne came into the program with a wealth of industry experience, which was wonderful to tap into during class discussions.”
Jasmine said: “Probably the best part about going to school with my mom was that it was easier to plan study group meetings and we could bounce ideas around over dinner.”
Mother and daughter have similar ambitions now that they’ve completed the master’s program.
Jasmine plans to continue working as a CNA at Ashland Community Hospital for a while.
“I will probably end up going back to school for another degree, like a Ph.D.,” she said. “Eventually, I would like to pursue a career in healthcare administration.”
Now that she has confidence in her job marketability, Jeanne has her sights on working for a corporate health care provider or doing some consulting work.
“I want to merge my education with my actual work experience” as a healthcare administrator, she said.
— Reach Grants Pass freelance writer Tammy Asnicar at firstname.lastname@example.org.