3 reasons why this professional enrolled in UNA’s 1st-ever EDBA class


Sylvia Wiliams enrolled in UNA's 1st -ever EDBA class
Sylvia Bowen. Photo supplied

When Sylvia Bowen first learned about UNA’s new Executive Doctor of Business Administration, she knew it was for her. She’s a mid-career professional who recently became a mom, and loved a previous teaching stint at Lawson State. We reached out to find out more about what made this Birmingham resident decide UNA’s EDBA was the program for her.

Meet Sylvia Bowen, one of the members of UNA’s first EDBA cohort—starting in January 2021

Syliva Bowen works with the City of Birmingham and lives in the Greater Birmingham area. She’s been married to her pastor husband for three years and just became a new mom. In addition to being “first lady of a church,” she loves spending time with family and friends hanging out and going out to eat. 

Delicious food from Surin
That dish looks just incredible. Photo via Surin’s Facebook page

A self-avowed foodie, she’s a big fan of Cajun Roux and you can typically find her at Surin. 

How Williams found UNA’s EDBA program

University of North Alabama's campus
University of North Alabama’s campus on a beautiful day. Photo via UNA’s Facebook page

Bowen is currently on her second stint working with the City of Birmingham and always thought “Dr. Williams” had a good ring to it. When I asked her how she found this program, she said:

“You know when you’re thinking about something or want to do something, it shows up on your Facebook page? That’s what happened. I was just kind of saying in my mind ‘I want to do this.’ I googled different programs I could take that would be flexible with my work schedule and didn’t find one right off the bat. 

But later, when I looked at Facebook, UNA popped up. I started clicking and saw their doctoral program.” 

Bowen already had completed an online MBA and was no stranger to that format. 

3 reasons why she decided to enroll in UNA’s EDBA, starting in January 2021

Woman writing on a whiteboard in a learning environment
Mid-career learning can be so invigorating. Photo via Unsplash

1. A doctorate opens up new career possibilities

Bowen always wanted a doctorate, primarily for the career advancement benefits it would bring. While she loves working for the City, she knew that politics wasn’t her endgame, so going to school seemed like a great way to ensure she’d be able to do work she loves when her time in public service draws to a close. 

2. Bowen loves teaching

Earlier in her career, she taught at Lawson State and loved it. The taste of teaching from that time makes her open to the idea of being able to teach at some level after earning her EDBA. 

3. UNA’s EDBA program works for working professionals

Person working on tablet
Flexibility is key. Photo via Unsplash

The program’s schedule allows Bowen to continue with her full-time job while completing coursework online. She saw the one weekend-a-month in-person commitment and thought “Hey, I can do that.” 

She has friends who had to quit their jobs in order to be full time students but that wasn’t an option for her family or something she wanted to do. 

“The one thing that really attracted me to the program was the flexibility. I love what I do, and it’s time-consuming. I appreciate that they’re willing to work with my schedule. I like that it’s one weekend out of the month in addition to other commitments I don’t know about yet. 

I don’t know yet what the studying part will be like—will it be all-consuming, or flexible? I like the option to continue working and being a mom, and appreciate that they’re willing to accommodate for working professionals.”

Bowen also liked the fact that she’ll go through the whole program with a small cohort. 

Want to learn more? Request info today.

What happened once Bowen decided to apply to UNA’s EDBA

1. UNA reached out personally

Rachel Russell, UNA's EDBA Coordinator
Rachel Russell, UNA’s EDBA Coordinator. Photo via Rachel Russell

The same day she clicked to request more info about the program, UNA reached out immediately. This quick turnaround time really impressed Bowen—even though it was mid-COVID, she didn’t have to wait before Rachel Russell, the EDBA Coordinator, reached out to her with a friendly personal contact.

“This quick turnaround time showed me what the expectation will be when I’m in the program—they set the bar high, and I can expect that from them as well.”

2. Williams got her application together

After this, Russell sent Bowen a list of what she needed to submit to UNA for the application process. Although it took a minute to get everything, including reference letters, together because of COVID, it all worked out. She turned her materials in on a Thursday or Friday and had her interview the following week. 

3. There was a panel interview via Zoom

Dr. Wes Davenport of UNA's EDBA Program
Dr. Wes Davenport, the Director of the EDBA Program. Photo via Dr. Davenport

Bowen’s interview was with two professors, including Dr. Wes Davenport, the Director of the EDBA Program, and Rachel Russell, who made the initial contact with her when she requested more information. When I asked her what it was like, she said it was “very casual and professional.” 

And, she was really nervous! 

While she found it strange not being able to walk into a room and make eye contact with people and get a feel for them, she was impressed with how comfortable everyone at UNA made her feel. “Even from the beginning, they encouraged me to ask questions. It was very personable and felt more like a conversation. I wouldn’t say I was relaxed because I wasn’t, but it was very calming, the way they conducted the interview,” Bowen said. 

4. She got accepted!

During the interview, Bowen learned that the EDBA is a new program, and loves that UNA isn’t just traditional—they’re open to trying innovative ideas. When I asked about payment for the program, she said that financial aid is an option, and some people pay out of pocket. 

5. UNA’s EDBA kicks off this fall

Launch weekend is scheduled for November 6-7, and the first residency weekend is scheduled for January 15-17. 

EDBA logo
EDBA. Graphic via UNA’s Facebook page

The University of North Alabama’s Executive Doctor of Business Administration is an applied program that trains and equips people to make a difference in the real world of business. That said, here are some of the things that make UNA stand out: 

Cost: At $33,030 per year for 3 years, the program is competitively priced.
Quality: UNA is among the 5% of business schools in the world to hold the prestigious AACSB accreditation.
Flexibility: most of the program is online, with monthly in-person weekend sessions on the UNA campus. 

Want more info on UNA’s EDBA program? Request info 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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