How earning an MBA from ACU Online is paying off
When we first spoke with Keri Croy over a year ago, she was pursuing her ACU Online MBA. The busy wife and mother of two young children was then working as a payroll specialist in the business department of Prosper Independent School District. Keri was responsible for ensuring 1,600 staff members received timely and accurate paychecks.
One of the primary motivating factors for pursuing her master’s in business administration came from Keri’s desire for promotion. She also wanted to develop her leadership skills and learn how to apply Biblical knowledge in a secular workplace.
We recently caught up with Keri again to ask her how things were going for her and her family.
What a Difference a Year, and an MBA, Make
Even though Keri has two classes remaining before graduating in May, she’s recently been promoted from payroll specialist to the payroll manager position at her school district. The current manager is retiring, and because Keri’s employer knew her graduation date was imminent, she was offered the position.
Keri will initially have four people reporting to her, but she explains this is sure to change. “We’re opening about three to four schools a year because we’re in a fast-growing district. I’m sure that will continue to increase as time goes on and we’ll continue to hire more staff. Right now, we’re paying about 2,100 people a month, but we’re expected to hire on 800 additional this summer.”
Along with the title that comes with the promotion, Keri is thrilled to report, “The big thing about it is the pay increase I’m receiving is actually going to cover the cost of my entire master’s within its first year.” Keri states she expected her MBA to pay off, “but I didn’t expect it to pay off so quickly, and especially since I haven’t even graduated yet. So yeah, I did the right thing by getting this degree. I’m already seeing the rewards of it.”
Applying What She Learns In Real-Time
When asked if anything she’s studied so far has been particularly helpful to her new managerial position, Keri cites nine hiring interviews she conducted not long ago in which she was able to integrate negotiation principles and practices. She also sends “a shout-out to Dr. Pope,” because the formulas and equations she learned in his statistics class have been very helpful in her current role.
Keri is very much looking forward to her upcoming Innovation class. She explains, “We’ve been a small school district for a really long time, and so some of our practices and procedures are still stuck in a small-district mentality. I think the Innovation coursework will help because we need a change. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing.”
What a Difference a Faith-based Educational Environment Makes
In our first conversation, Keri shared that she thinks of her online MBA program as getting two educations in one—gaining the skills needed to advance professionally and growing in her faith. When we revisit the subject to see if she has any further thoughts about the importance of attending a Christian school, she says, “I finished my undergrad online through a university, a non-Christian university, and it’s such a difference. The support I receive from ACU is different from what I’ve experienced in the past. I think it’s because they’re there because they want to be there, and they want to help, and they want to make a difference. It’s kind of like it’s their mission field, and so I’m appreciative of that and the professors.”
As an example, Keri mentions that her student services advisor often emails helpful hints, and at the bottom of her note will add, “Let me know how I can pray for you. Let me know if something’s going on.” Keri shares, “It’s just nice to know someone’s there with your wellbeing in mind, and not there because it’s a job that they have to earn a check at. It’s the personal touch, I guess, that I’ve appreciated.”
An ACU Education is a Family Affair
Keri’s husband, Lute Croy, is currently enrolled in ACU Online’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program. He’s employed as an assistant principal at Frisco ISD. When we first spoke with Keri, Lute was thinking about getting his Ed.D. elsewhere. She explains, “I think after hearing me talk a lot and seeing what I do and how the classes are set up, he decided to go to ACU.”
We asked Keri if she has any plans to pursue a doctoral degree, and she quickly replies, “Momma’s tired, and Momma’s done.” It seems the Croy kids, 8-year-old son Drew and 6-year-old daughter Krosby, “are counting down the days till Mom’s done with homework.” Keri notes that with both parents enrolled in rigorous graduate degree programs that require nightly study, the kids are eager to have a bit more parental attention again.
Although she’s never actually stepped foot on campus, Keri and her family will make the four-and-a-half-hour drive to Abilene in May so she can participate in her graduation ceremony. She wants the kids to see her walk, “because they’re old enough now to understand what it is. I think that’ll be a good chance for them to look around. They know where we go to school. We talk about it a lot. I want to be an example for them … and they’ve also been a part of it, so it’s their celebration too.”
Parting Thoughts from Keri
Keri wasn’t sure she could pull off an MBA, “because I didn’t finish my undergraduate until I was 37.” But she’s very glad she took the plunge, adding, “I guess my intentions for doing it at the beginning were to prove something to myself. And now, looking back at the end of it, there was purpose behind it. God’s hand was in it. It’s turned into something that’s going to impact me from here on out. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve done.”