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'I Cherish My MBA Degree'

Kathy Higgins and her husband

March 2011


A little over twenty years ago, Kathy Higgins asked. With a career and three young children, she didn't have the time to drive to Davenport to earn her MBA. Could St. Ambrose offer a program in Ottumwa?

When did you earn your MBA? What were you doing at the time?
I was a member of that first class and graduated in 1994. At the time I was working in the marketing department of John Deere Ottumwa Works as a supervisor of complete goods, a marketing unit supporting the sales branches in getting machines moved to the dealer organization, and ultimately to our customers.

What prompted you to pursue your MBA?
I had begun work on my master's degree at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, before we returned home to Ottumwa in 1977. I started at John Deere in 1979 and had three sons. When the youngest was 5, I decided that I really wanted to fulfill my dream and get my advanced degree, but the idea of driving to Davenport was daunting. That's when I asked if Ambrose would bring a program to Ottumwa. I spoke with other John Deere employees about their level of interest and with our comptroller about supporting this educational pursuit. I helped recruit new students from surrounding towns. As the planning evolved, I even got to help choose the nights and times courses would be scheduled. I was given a nice award by St Ambrose for my effort. 

Were there any "ah-ha" moments during your education?
I remember travelling to the Davenport campus for a labor relations seminar. The course was a real eye opener for me on negotiations and the give and take of effective talks.

How has earning your MBA informed your work?
I am currently retired. But, my MBA helped me secure several different positions at Deere and made me a very well-rounded employee. I learned how to listen and think through different perspectives on issues. Education makes for a better employee and improves employee relations.

What would you like others to know about the value of a St. Ambrose MBA?
 When the time is right, and the commitment is there, take advantage of the opportunities and better yourself. Your degree and education is always on your record and resume.

Is there anything else I did not ask or that you would like to add?
I'd like to thank St. Ambrose for bringing the program to the area. I would never have finished my master's without the sacrifice of many professors who made that trip to Ottumwa. Our class created quite a bond. We met for study sessions and helped each other with problem resolution. Nearly the entire class showed up for our graduation party. I made some very special friends during that time and I learned so much. Thank you too for keeping this program going. I cherish my degree.

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