How Whitney Stanley juggles a career with UNA’s MBA program + why


Whitney Stanley is currently doing at MBA at UNA while working at Cigna Medicare.
Whitney Stanley, current MBA student at UNA. Photo via Whitney Stanley

Is getting an MBA on your #careergoals bucket list? If it is, you’re gonna want to pull up a chair to hear Whitney Stanley’s story. Not only is she currently working full time, but she’s currently enrolled in the MBA program at University of North Alabama. Keep reading to find out how she’s managing to crush it all at once.

Meet Whitney Stanley, with Cigna Medicare + current UNA MBA student

UNA's MBA - candidate Whitney Stanley is working at Cigna Medicare while doing the program
“If I had to choose one of the Incredibles to be, I would be Violet with her invisibility and force field abilities. I would enjoy using my telekinesis powers way too much.” Photo via Whitney Stanfield

Stanley was born and raised in Selma, Alabama and now lives in Pelham, Alabama. She currently serves as a Specialist on the Clinical Vendor Oversight Team for Cigna Medicare (formally Cigna-HealthSpring). 

Right after high school, Stanley moved to Birmingham and completed her undergraduate degree in 2015 with a major in Health Care Management and a minor in Sociology from UAB. 

When she’s not working or studying, she’s a big fan of travel and cooking. 

In the spring of 2019, Stanley enrolled in UNA’s MBA program with a concentration in Health Care Management. She dove in headfirst, taking 2-3 classes a semester, with the goal of finishing in a year and a half.

While everyone thought she was over-extending herself, she said “I’ve managed to make it work and it’s definitely worth it, knowing that I’m so close to graduation just one year later.” 

If all goes according to plan, she’s slated to graduate in December 2020—just one more semester before she earns her degree.

A few factors went into the decision—first to get an MBA, and then to do it at UNA

UNA is home to an EMBA, an MBA and an online BBA
There’s something about a college campus in the springtime… Photo courtesy of UNA

“Originally, my decision was between getting a master’s degree in Healthcare Quality and Safety or an MBA. I decided on an MBA due to the versatility. 

For example, if later in life I decide that I no longer want to work in healthcare, my MBA would offer me the opportunity to change the direction of my career at any moment. 

After deciding on an MBA, UNA was always at the top of my list once I researched admission requirements, course availability and cost.”

Whitney Stanley

Juggling full-time work and the program can be a challenge, but clear goals + support make it possible

Whitney Stanley is an MBA candidate at UNA
Working on an MBA + ready to travel. Photo via Whitney Stanley

Since Whitney dove right into 2-3 classes a semester on top of full-time work, she admits that juggling both has been difficult. And, having her eyes on the prize, as well as support both at work and at school, has helped: 

“I find solace in knowing that the work I am putting in is helping me achieve my personal and professional goals. 

Plus, my managers have been extremely understanding since I began the program. I didn’t plan to begin the program until fall 2019, but it was actually my previous manager and co-worker (who is a UNA MBA Alum) that pushed me to go ahead and apply.”

Whitney’s top tips for anyone considering an MBA: 

  • Keep your goals in mind.
  • Make sure you have people in your corner at work who believe in you and are cheering you on.
  • Set aside dedicated time to complete tasks and assignments. 
  • Plan—schedules are your friend.
  • Look for flexibility. UNA’s MBA course schedule is very customizable, which helps a lot. 
  • If the pandemic has slowed down your pace, use the extra time to relax and get ahead on schoolwork. 

There are immediate perks, even before graduation, with the promise of more down the road

UNA's MBA is the biggest in the state
How UNA’s MBA stacks up within the state. Graphic courtesy of UNA

“Right now, I’m gaining a more business-centered foundation and expanding my knowledge beyond just healthcare.”

When I asked Whitney what she’s most looking forward to after graduation, she said “a much-needed vacation!” 

Once she’s had a chance for some R&R, she’s looking forward to applying her hard-won knowledge toward career advancement. She explained, “I know that obtaining my degree will open new career possibilities for me and allow me to advance within my current company.”

The biggest benefits, though, are deeply personal

Whitney Stanley and her Grandma
Whitney Stanley and her Grandma, way back when. Photo via Whitney Stanley

Whitney gave a moving account of what the MBA means to her: 

“The biggest benefit for me is not only centered around making career advancements but it is very personal. I always knew that I wanted to obtain a master’s degree. 

In December, I will be the first of my maternal grandmother’s grandchildren to earn both an undergraduate and a graduate degree. My grandmother is the last living grandparent that I have and it is extra special that I will be able to accomplish this goal for her to witness. 

UNA has allowed me the opportunity to grow academically while preparing me for real-world experiences in my career. Being able to connect with classmates and professionals by sharing this journey and experiences with one another has been rewarding.”

UNA offers online MBA + EMBA Programs

UNA's MBA program accolades
Just a few of UNA’s MBA Program Accolades. Graphic courtesy of UNA

The University of North Alabama offers an MBA and an Executive MBA program for working professionals who want to advance their careers while working. Here’s why a lot of people choose UNA: 

Cost: It’s possible to complete the entire MBA program for less than $18,000.
Quality: UNA is among the 5% of business schools in the world to hold the prestigious AASCB accreditation.
Flexibility: there are five different eight-week terms per year, and you can apply and start before any one of them. UNA works closely with students to help you design a schedule that will help you reach your goals while meeting your current commitments.

If you’re ready to apply, here’s what you need to know:

  • UNA will waive the GMAT for anyone with three solid years’ business experience.
  • For the fall of 2020, they’re also waiving the GMAT for applicants with less than three years’ experience.
  • Any new online student who starts in the fall, whether they enroll in the MBA, EMBA or the online BBA, gets two credit hours for free. This amounts to roughly a $1000 scholarship. 

Want more info on UNA’s MBA program? Email them here or check them out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more!

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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