When Steve Sheridan saw his wife, Angie, thriving in an online nursing bachelor's degree program, he figured it was time he returned to college, too.
Sheridan, who grew up in Hayward, California, and still lives in the Bay Area, will graduate from LSU Shreveport's online Master of Business Administration program in December 2018. Angie's online degree program is also out of state; hers is in Texas.
"She started and was doing well," Sheridan said. "I said, 'Yeah, I could do it.' I had thought about it in the past. I also hit a point at my job where I realized I didn't have the education to do the things I wanted to do. I'm more of a people person. I want to get people to grow and learn, and it seemed like I was hitting a lot of roadblocks. I'm also a man of faith, so I felt this urging to learn more."
Sheridan has worked for Dean Lewis Associates for a total of nearly 20 years. He started a second stint with the company in 2011 as an associate, but took over as controller in 2012. The online MBA program at LSUS seemed tailored for Sheridan's specific needs.
"When I found LSUS, I was thinking, 'It's down south, so I don't think people would be opposed to some of my views if my faith leaks into some of my classwork,'" he said. "I saw it was accredited[by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business].
"The kicker was they had a Small Business and Family Enterprise course [MADM 752], which is what I work for right now. I said, 'I think that's the program for me.' That's how I got there."
Down to Business
Sheridan wasn't sure what he would do for a career until getting a glimpse of his future while playing soccer in high school.
"When I was a junior, the senior captains came to me for guidance," he said. "I never really thought of myself as something like that, so that's why I thought about maybe going into management. I took a different route in school for a little while -- I was a statistics major with a computer science minor. The classes just weren't clicking, so I switched to business and it all kind of made sense to me."
In 1991, Sheridan graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a finance concentration. His first job out of school was as a customer service representative at a bank. He started at Dean Lewis Associates as an assistant controller four years later.
"I thought about a master's degree way back when I was young, but I was in school eight hours a day the last couple of quarters," he said. "When I finally graduated, I told myself, 'I just need a break.' The years kind of skipped by."
Once Angie helped put the idea of earning a degree online in Sheridan's head, he was eager to get started.
"She gave me some pointers," he said. "She was very helpful -- especially about writing papers. I knew what to expect from online testing. That can be kind of nerve-wracking the first time you do it. She prepped me for it. She's still going in her RN to BSN program. We're doing homework together. That's our family time some nights."
The flexibility to work on school any time of day is one of the reasons Sheridan is able to manage earning a degree with a full-time job.
"There are some tougher weeks than others," he said. "Some nights it's come home, have a little dinner, then I'm doing classwork from six to nine, three or four days a week. Then, I just have to start winding down because I have to do it again the next morning. At lunch, I can go online and study and check out what's going on in the class."
Although Sheridan works for a family business, he brings some of the knowledge from the online MBA curriculum to his career.
"I work for a small family business, so the ownership still runs things," he said. "Little by little, I'm trying to interject some of the ideas."
So far, MKT 701: Marketing Strategy is Sheridan's favorite course.
"We got to work with fellow students on a project," he said. "I learned a lot about myself in that class. It set the tone for me with how much work I needed to do and the fact that I could do it after this many years. There's always that little fear in the back of your mind. There was a lot of relevant information in that class, too."
Especially since Angie can relate so well to the online experience, she provides lots of support for Sheridan.
"My wife is very encouraging," he said. "The extended family is also proud; they want to find out what's going on with school. A couple of my friends already have master's degrees, so that was a little bit of inspiration, too. They've done it, and they were working and even had kids while they did it. It's just the two of us and two dogs. It made me think, 'Yeah, I can do this.'"
If all goes well, the Sheridans will complete their online education experience with a very special road trip from the Bay Area to the Bayou with a stop in Texas.
"If everything falls into place, we will graduate at the same time," Sheridan said. "I'm trying to talk her into going to her graduation, and then taking a drive over to mine."
Learn more about the LSUS online MBA with a General Business Specialization program.
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