THE THOUGHT OF EARNING A MASTER’S DEGREE IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION HAD BEEN ON THE MIND OF RUBEN CARDENAS JR. FOR QUITE A WHILE. BUT THE DEMANDS OF A CAREER AND FAMILY, COMBINED WITH THE INCONVENIENT COURSE SCHEDULES OFFERED AT LOCAL UNIVERSITIES, PREVENTED HIM FROM COMPLETING THE LAST STEP OF HIS EDUCATION. THAT WAS UNTIL HE LEARNED OF THE NEW FULLY EMPLOYED MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (FEMBA) PROGRAM AT CAL STATE LA DOWNTOWN, OFFERED THROUGH THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS AND THE COLLEGE OF PROFESSIONAL AND GLOBAL EDUCATION.
Ruben works for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) as a project manager in the facilities maintenance department. As one of eight project managers, he is part of a team that oversees maintenance contracts for Metro’s bus and rail facilities that include the right-of-way system throughout Los Angeles County. Coincidentally, it was while riding a Metro train to work in downtown Los Angeles from his home
in Arcadia that Ruben saw an ad for Cal State LA Downtown’s new Fully Employed Master of Business Administration program. “I was excited to find out that the FEMBA program at Cal State LA Downtown was offered on Saturdays and close to my job, providing the flexibility that I needed,” Ruben says. “It also helped that the program was fully accredited and that a portion of my tuition would be reimbursed by my employer.”
Having already earned his bachelor of arts in economics, Ruben feels fortunate to have been able to apply his education, skills, and experience to advance professionally wherever he has been employed. As Metro undergoes an unprecedented expansion of its bus and rail lines, Ruben’s department is well-positioned for growth. He hopes to be prepared to take on a leadership role and play an active part in this expansion on both levels. “As I got older I felt that my education and years of experience only took me so far. I plan to use my FEMBA to advance within my department at Metro.”
At Cal State LA Downtown Ruben knew that his academic experience would be enriched by the varied backgrounds, work experiences, and interactions with members of his cohort. What he didn’t anticipate were the strong personal relationships that he quickly developed with others in his program, which he hopes to maintain and may prove valuable beyond the FEMBA program. “As an ‘adult learner’ returning to school in a traditional setting, the challenges posed by learning in a cohort combined with the faculty’s knowledge and related work experience has been exhilarating! At work, my department is tasked to solve problems and in my master’s program, we are tasked to solve problems in a group, while using what we have learned. This is exciting because we see a direct correlation between the ‘real world’ problems and what we are learning in the FEMBA program.”
In addition to applying his knowledge to career advancement at Metro, Ruben also plans to use what he has learned to improve upon the two businesses that he and his wife, Desiree, operate. “Since my wife is simultaneously pursuing her Master of Arts in Education at Cal State LA’s main campus, the pursuit of higher education as a means for advancement is clearly being emphasized upon our two children, and our pursuit of advanced degrees emphasizes our belief further,” Ruben says.
“As with any minority student with immigrant parents, you want more out of life and strive to excel. With little guidance, I managed to enter a four-year university and graduate as the first person in my family with a college degree,” Ruben says. “Though the benefits of education are not always immediate, I feel it is important that no matter what stage you are in your career, education is important.”