Alumni/Current Student Spotlight

The Alumni/Current Student Spotlight showcases the achievements, success stories and fun facts about some of our current UNT MBA Students/ Alumni. We are excited to feature our extraordinary people who are doing awesome things during and after their MBA at UNT. We mean business!

Sabrina Sanders
MBA - Business Management

Sabrina has a Bachelor’s degree in political science from UNT. She was a program management intern for an aerospace company before going back to graduate school.

For Sabrina, going to UNT for Grad School was not a question. In her words, “I love UNT! I’ve had the best experience with advisors and professors, it wasn’t even a question for me if I would continue my education here or not.” Her favorite MBA Course is organizational behavior and analysis. It was the first MBA course she took and she enjoyed diving right in with that class and learning the fundamentals and building a foundation for good leadership, management and how to maintain a productive work place.

Her most memorable experience was attending a fundraiser through a prior internship and meeting the Governor of Texas, as well as additional prominent political figures in Texas!

Advice to prospective students: My advice would be to go for it! Never stop pursuing education whether it be through school or life experiences. “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” - Albert Einstein

Rachel Alley-Wallace
MBA - Business Studies

Rachel completed a BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders and also MS in Speech-Language Pathology at Texas Woman's University. In her career, she has cared for neonates, children and adults in the acute care setting with special interest in evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders.

She chose UNT for her MBA because of its AACSB accreditation and reputation for excellence. UNT provided her the opportunity to customize a degree plan that fits her specific career goals with the guidance of experienced and attentive faculty.

Getting an MBA has been memorable for Rachel. In her words, “As I worked alongside students from a wide variety of industries early in my coursework, my mind was opened to the universality of business. This helped me to reject my previous notion of healthcare as being such a hopelessly unique industry and renewed my hope that the challenges inherent in the business of healthcare can be overcome with innovation and collaboration. Although it is a difficult endeavor for those who have already devoted their lives and work to studying and serving in healthcare, those who are able to reach further for the ideal care of patients and their families would be more effective if they studied business. Healthcare workers can lead and improve the industry of healthcare.”

Eric Comley
MBA - Finance

Meet Eric Comley – Not all paths to a “dream job” are the same. Keep trying different avenues until you get to where you want to be!

Eric is a Senior Financial Analyst at USAA. USAA provides financial services to military members, veterans, and their families. As a Senior Financial Analyst, he advises Bank executive leadership on expense trends, as well as opportunities for efficiencies. The Banks’s expense forecasts help inform product pricing in order to provide the most competitive products and services for our members.

After completing his undergraduate degree in Agribusiness at Texas A&M University, he was commissioned as an Artillery Officer in the US Army. He served for about 5 years, including two deployments to Iraq. He decided to leave the military for a more stable family life. Eric was able to transition easily from leading soldiers in the military to leading manufacturing employees at Michelin’s tire manufacturing site in Ardmore, OK. During his time as a production manager, he completed his MBA through night classes at UNT. His first graduate level finance course with Dr. Tomas Mantecon at UNT motivated and encouraged him to pursue his studies specifically in the finance field.

With the financial knowledge gained through his MBA, he shifted to a finance career with Michelin's investments group. He was looking for an opportunity to support the military again and was thrilled to land a career as a Financial Analyst at USAA Bank.

Advice for students: If you don't feel that you're in your dream career, keep looking. Keep working to improve your skills, broaden your knowledge, further your education, and talk to as many professionals as you can to find that career that you'll truly love. Don't settle!

Brooke Bradley
MBA - Marketing

Meet Brooke Bradley

From being a marketing director of an Insurance company to being a stay-at-home mom, and now a financial advisor, Brooke Bradley is doing what she loves - helping individuals, families, and businesses.

Brooke obtained a BBA Marketing Management (1994) and MBA Marketing (1995) from UNT. Her fondest memories of UNT was the flexibility that the school offered her during her programs. She played volleyball for UNT and had professors to work with her on her schedule of either taking tests early or notes that she missed in their class. She says “They all helped make it a seamless process especially since it was a ‘time’ before e-mail and cell phones.”

Brooke entered the field of Insurance immediately after college. She was the Marketing Director for an Independent Adjusting Firm handling all lines of insurance claims services in the DFW area and Texas Border States for 9 years. Thereafter, she transitioned to being a full-time stay at home mom for 6 ½ years to take care of her then 3 and 1 year old children.

She currently works as a financial advisor for Edward Jones at Coppell, Texas. She partners with individuals, families, and businesses to create and implement personalized financial strategies for their specific goals for retirement, education, 401ks, life insurance, or estate planning.

Advice for students: Seek out companies for volunteer positions or internships. The earlier you can apply for internships or volunteer positions will only help you discover if the company is a fit for you and puts your name ahead of your competition. Edward Jones has an excellent program called FACD (Financial Advisor Career Development) that will accept and train young college degreed individuals.

Sara McPherson
MBA - Marketing

Meet Sara McPherson – Leverage every connection and make connections that go beyond surface level.

Sarah obtained an MBA in Marketing (2016) from UNT. She currently works as the Director of Marketing for Amuse Digital. Amuse is a full-service, digital-first agency that works with companies in all verticals to help them establish, articulate, and build awareness of their brand. She leads a team of content strategists, social media strategists, and writers to help clients distill their brand differentiators into clear messages for every channel and then share and promote those messages to impact business goals.

Sarah emphasizes the need for connection because every job she has ever gotten was through a connection with someone else. She encourages students to leverage every connection they have and to attend networking events with a goal of making connections that go beyond surface level. The idea is to get involved in organizations and use it as an opportunity show off skills.

Advice for students: Learn to interview well. Read all the articles, practice with friends who will call you out on your tics and make you rephrase your answers to questions until you sound as professional and polished, go to a career center and ask their advice. From the handshake to the resume to the closing questions you ask the interviewer, all of it factors in, and I've seen all of it go very, very wrong.

Once you've got the job, know how to tie everything you do back to a business goal -- ideally revenue. If you implement a change that increases your productivity, note it. If you regularly take on a small task that the company would otherwise have to pay someone else to do, document it. When you're looking to advance or to negotiate for a raise, nothing supports you better than having hard numbers to back up your arguments. If you want to make a strategy change for a client, be able to speak to how it's going to implement their bottom line. You don't have to be a robot, but being able to speak the language of ROI smooths any business discussion.

Sarah Allsup
MBA - Marketing

Sarah Allsup has a degree in Communication Studies and Business from Southwestern University. She works at the UNT Libraries External Relations Department which handles marketing and communications. She worked previously in business administration for large Dallas non-profits organizations.

Sarah opted in for an MBA because she wanted to expand upon her undergrad experience and learn more about her current professional field. Her favorite thing about choosing the online MBA at UNT was the inclusivity and flexibility that it offered her. “My first graduate class was online and I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the format, or miss the community feeling you get in a physical classroom. I found that the online classes are just as inclusive and inviting as being in a classroom with the added bonus of the flexibility to set my own schedule to meet weekly assignment deadlines”.

She loved the class on Consumer Behavior where she took a deeper look at the purchasing habits of herself and those around her and discovered how marketing worked in life in ways she had never realized. She said, “I continue to learn more not just about the Marketing profession, but how business concepts are incorporated into day to day life outside of their applications in my career”.

Sarah’s advice to prospective students is for them to find their tempo. “There are a million suggestions of how, why, and where to pursue an MBA but your inner drive is the most important force in helping you succeed in the MBA program”.

Tanner Dritschler
MBA - Marketing

Tanner Dritschler completed his undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship at UNT. He also worked his way through college providing creative services to small business owners here in North Texas. Tanner now owns an agency called Dritschler Media

Choosing UNT for his MBA was a no brainer because the accelerated online program allows him to build his business while simultaneously attending graduate school full-time.

Tanner met the love of his life at UNT. He said “Finding the love of my life (now fiancé) while attending UNT will always be my most memorable college experience”.

MKTG 5200 has been my favorite course because of the open discussion forums. Learning from my peers experiences has been extremely valuable to both my career and education.

He strongly recommends for every student to meet or talk on the phone with their professors. In his words “Their knowledge and willingness to help you succeed is unmatched!”

Washima Huq
MBA - Marketing

Washima has a Business Management degree (with honors) from the University of Texas at Arlington. She has five years of experience in marketing, business development and community outreach

She chose UNT for her MBA because the online program has been nationally recognized for many years and it worked best for her, being a Professional MBA student. The cost was also affordable and the degree requirements were manageable for her to juggle with a full-time job.

Her most memorable experience during the MBA was taking her final exam and being able to apply my work experience in assignments. She was also excited because of all of the A’s that she made in the courses. Washima loved Accounting 5130, which was her first graduate course. “I fell in love with accounting and became confident using the online platform, primarily because of the effective and well-coordinated ways my professor taught the course, making the experience very rich for the students.”

Washima’s advice to students is to strike a balance. “The duration of the program will go by fast, but balance work and school with some fun or travel breaks, so you don’t experience a burnout. And most importantly, be sure to apply what you are learning from your courses in your workplace, and incorporate your work experience into your coursework, this is a 2-way learning experience and it does not stop after you “get hooded!”

Alexandra Ortiz Deal
MBA - OBHR Management

Meet Alexandra Ortiz Deal – You are already a step ahead if you are getting a degree at UNT

Alexandra is the Director of Property Workforce Management at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Liberty Mutual Insurance provides insurance products and services to individuals and businesses across the world. In her role, she oversees the workforce planning and resource management functions of our U.S. Global Retail Market’s Property operations.

She obtained MBA in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at UNT. She found it very valuable to go through the MBA program while being a new manager at her company because the content that was covered directly related to the skills she needed to develop as a manager. She was able to practice the concepts on a daily basis.

Her professional advice: Have some “real world” experience as you go through the program, whether an internship, full time job, or part time job. Seek advice on resume building and interview preparation and Network!

Final words/Advice for students: Remember that everyone has to start somewhere and build a plan to get to the position you want. You have to earn that spot, so you may have to start in an entry level role. As long as you see the light at the end of the tunnel and understand how to meet the needs of your company, you will achieve your career goals. I started as an adjuster and made sure I was doing everything to meet/exceed my objectives and slowly I took on roles with increased responsibilities until I got promoted to the job I have today. It takes patience and determination, but you are already a step ahead if you are getting a degree at UNT.

Sometimes a job is not a good fit for you. It may be hard to accept this, but you only live once and you owe it to yourself to be happy each day. You will have to work hard at any job and there will be ups and downs, but make sure you reflect and understand what you are wanting to accomplish. It is okay to say that something is not working for you and trying something new.

Dexia Smith
MBA - Sports Entertainment Mgmt

Dexia has a Bachelors in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Political Science at UNT. Dexia served as a reporter for for two years and helped launch/host 'Mean Green Minute', a weekly segment covering North Texas Athletics. Immediately after graduation, she was the only intern selected from Texas to intern with CBS News in New York in the sports department where she covered various sports events including the 2015 NBA Draft. Dexia returned to work with CBS Radio for four years in various roles including Performance Showroom Manager and Event Coordinator.

When asked why she chose UNT for her MBA, she said “I loved my undergrad experience so much that last year, I actively researched MBA programs offered by UNT to take my career a step further. I landed upon the Sport Entertainment Management program at UNT at Frisco. It has been a rewarding experience since being admitted such as recently being hired as the Marketing Director of the Sport Entertainment Management MBA program.”

Her most memorable experiences so far were executing the ESPN’s college game day broadcast for the Oregon/Auburn game and co-hosting the US sports tech conference. Her favorite courses are Sport in the Global Marketplace and Talent Management in the Sport Entertainment Industry, because both course provide hands-on projects and networking opportunities with top industry professionals.

Dexia advices all students to get a LinkedIn account and start developing their network and net worth.

Carolina Almanza
MBA - Strategic Management

Carolina has a Bachelor’s of Arts and Science in Applied Technology and Performance Improvement. She is currently a Practice Administrator for one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in Texas. She directs practice management activities and operations for specialty physician practices while ensuring achievement of strategic goals.

Carolina enjoyed the experience while attending UNT for her undergrad and so she wanted to continue at UNT for her MBA. She said, “Even though I was a non-traditional student, I felt pride attending a top known university that provided flexibility and had an all-online schedule. I did attend classes on-campus for my undergrad and actually still do since I love the culture and environment. The cherry on top was the fact UNT had an AACSB Accredited Business School.”

When she was asked about her favorite course, she said she could not provide a "favorite" course because each class has been instrumental in her education and she is able to take a little bit of each class and applied it in her real-world job. “The classes I've taken on campus have all been great with amazing professors that keep the classes fun and exciting. They've done a great job at showing me how to apply the skills I've learned and providing real-world examples based on their experiences.”

Final words to prospective students: I've recommended UNT's MBA program to all of those who ask me. UNT has so many programs and resources available to help their students be successful and ensure they have job opportunities once they have completed their program. They now even have an MBA ambassador to continue to support us in our times of need.

Ira Nicodemus
MBA - Strategic Management

Meet Ira Nicodemus – Politics change, principles don’t. Live your life based on solid principles and don’t get caught up in the politics.

Ira is the Director of Energy and Sustainability at CBRE Group. CBRE Group is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Ira’s role as Director of Energy and Sustainability focuses on meeting clients’ sustainability goals. These goals encompass green building, water efficiency, energy and CO2 reduction, waste and recycling improvement.

He finished his undergraduate studies in May of 2008, which launched him right in to the Great Recession! Those early years of his career proved a wild ride as he found himself on his 4th job in 3 years. In hindsight, he believes that his rollercoaster of a resume was an asset both in developing his character and knowledge.

In his 7+ years at CBRE, he has been able to grow quickly, aided by his UNT MBA that he completed part-time from 2012-2014. You have to look at unexpected change as opportunity and embrace the growth that comes from it. It is a surefire recipe for success and wisdom.

Advice for students: Subject matter expertise is important, but balance your technical skills with strong soft skills. Technical skills may get you hired, but soft skills will get you promoted. Take a public speaking class, have a strategic networking plan, ask more questions than you give answers, read leadership books, and always dress to impress. This will help you grow beyond an individual contributor and become a leader.

Jennifer Nanni
MBA - Strategic Management

Jennifer has a Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and Master of Education at Texas Christian University. She is the Director for Community and Alumni Relations at UNT Health Science Center. Her experience in higher education is very diverse and includes Financial Aid, Career Advising, Alumni Relations and Community Relations.

Jennifer is pursuing her MBA in Strategic Management at UNT. When asked why she chose UNT, she said “I liked the curriculum and the ability to pursue my degree online and still work within the UNT System”. She enjoys meeting new classmates and being able to apply what she has learned in her classes in her current role.

Her favorite course so far is Organization Behavior but she says that she has truly enjoyed all of her classes thus far.

Jennifer’s advice to students is to not get intimidated. “Sometimes going back to school can be intimidating, but do not let that stop you”.

John Perry
MBA - Strategic Management

Meet John Perry – I have been told that I am a Jack-Of-All-Trades, Master of Business Administration!

John Perry is a Project Manager in Regulatory Compliance for a mortgage lending company. The company is a mid to large-sized corporation that is involved in residential lending in the origination and servicing sectors. New regulatory requirements, changing interest rates, intense competition and other factors create business environments that demand constant reinvention. John’s role is to orchestrate a portion of these multiple moving pieces to create a symphony of productivity, profitability and organizational effectiveness.

He started his career in law enforcement in 1988. Afterwards, he decided to shift careers to pursue a graduate degree in business. He obtained his Master of Business Administration degree in 2004 from the University of North Texas.

In John’s words, “All the courses at UNT positively influenced me. Some more than others. However, it was the most challenging courses that made me grow intellectually. The courses that stretched and challenged me provided some of the most important lessons that I use both in my personal and professional life. Learn as much as you can as often as you can even from those courses that are not your favorite.”

Advice for students: There are endless possibilities you can pursue with a degree in business. The best career opportunities are found through networking and relationship building, not necessarily online but through human connection! Embrace the difficulties in life because they truly make you grow personally and professionally! Escape your comfort zone! Lead with your heart pursuing your company’s growth for the next decade, not with your Profit and Loss Statement for the next quarter. Profitability and success beyond your wildest dreams are sure to follow.

Conference calls and meetings can be rescheduled. Your daughter’s dance recital or your son’s Little League baseball game should never be skipped! Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO. Just prioritize the CEO’s requests first. Always stay humble and kind, and remember who and what matters most in life.

Kellye P. Riggs
MBA - Strategic Management

Meet Kellye P. Riggs – Never stop asking questions.

Kellye is the Sales Operations Business Partner for Sabre Travel Network. Sabre operates in the global travel technology industry. Her current role at Sabre is to support the sales operating framework by creating, implementing and optimizing processes, data and tools required to enable the sales team to run effectively and efficiently. She believes that the culture at Sabre was a large contributing factor to her success. At Sabre, she found an incredible mentor and she has developed herself beyond what she thought possible. She advises students never to accept a position for only the job, but to be sure they believe in the company or leadership and culture.

She obtained MBA in Strategic Management at UNT. She loved the MBA capstone course on Business Administrative Strategy because of the business simulation and strategy games. The strategy game was a competitive environment that challenged her to think outside the box and rely on the expertise of those around her. She believes that it was the most professionally realistic experience she had in a classroom. She also liked the guidance provided by her graduate academic advisor throughout the program.

Final words/Advice for students: Never stop asking questions. Curiosity is one of the most highly valued and recognized skills by leaders and peers. Also, always keep your resume up to date! You never know what can happen or what opportunities might present themselves at unexpected moments. Negotiate for more paid time off (PTO) in your first job, then use your negotiated PTO to travel the world and you will have friends wherever you go! More importantly, try to work with people very different from yourself. Each day I get to collaborate with people all over the world, from Australia to Uruguay to Iceland, and it is truly rewarding.

Kyle Sharp
MBA - Strategic Management

Meet Kyle Sharp – Rise and Grind every morning.

Kyle is the AVP, Senior Business Control Specialist at Bank of America. He is the founder and Alpha Dog for Crossed Paw Animal Haven and the founder and COO for Crossed Paws Incorporated. At Bank of America, Kyle works in Mortgage and Vehicle Servicing Operations as Business Support. At Crossed Paw Animal Haven and Crossed Paw Incorporated, he serves on the board of directors and manages business development and fund raising.

He completed his MBA in Strategic Management in 2015. He chose the online option it was flexible and did not require physical presence on campus. He enjoyed the Capstone course which gave him insights into business plan development and a perspective on how to be successful in any industry. His goal was to become self-employed and use the knowledge he learned from classes in the real world. Because of his passion for animals, he founded Crossed Paws Animal Haven with his wife, a non-profit animal rescue based in McKinney, Texas.

In October 2018, Kyle formed a Facebook Group, Bourbon Bros, with a focus on bringing community and spirits together. Bourbon Bros is all about sharing time with family and friends, rather around a kitchen table, a campfire, favorite watering hole, restaurant, pool, beach… or anywhere for that matter.

Final words/Advice for students:

Don’t expect things to be handed to you simply because you have an MBA or PhD. Those days are long over. To be successful, you’re going to have to put in the long hours of hard work. Rise and Grind every morning and plan for the worst to happen to you. If you’ve already thought out the worst case scenarios and planned what to do, then you can’t be caught off guard by anything.

Pamela Morrow
MBA - Strategic Management

Pamela Morrow is a Quality Manager at Safran Seats USA LLC in Gainesville, Texas. Safran Seats designs, fabricates and assembles commercial airline passenger seats for various customers including Boeing, Airbus, American Airlines and Delta Airlines.

She completed her Master’s Degree in Strategic Management at UNT in August 2015. She believes that the education she received at UNT has served her well in her current role dealing with all types of customers, suppliers and quality issues.

During her career, she has worked in various positions and industries including weaving fabric at Burlington Industries, building silicon wafers at Texas Instruments, and making medical devices at Johnson & Johnson. She is thankful for valuable teachers, coaches, and mentors who helped her along the way. She tries to pay this forward every day to those who are coming after her.

Advice for students: My advice for fellow UNT grads is to pursue your dreams, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. To quote Don Williams, Jr.,”The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”

Ryan Hamby
MBA - Strategic Management

Meet Ryan Hamby

Ryan is the Vice President, Business Strategy for Glazer’s Beer and Beverage (GBB) LLC. GBB is a leading beer and beverage distributor/wholesaler operating in five states and 11 total markets within the US. His role as VP-Business Strategy is to work with executive leadership to identify strategic opportunities within their organization/industry to maximize efficiency and profitability. He is also responsible for commercial planning/analysis for the Company.

Prior to his current position, Ryan worked at Countrywide/Bank of America for five years. However, in 2008 at the peak of the financial crisis, he took the opportunity to leave and join his family business. The business was a wine wholesaler/distributor that serviced most of Texas. After a few years, his family business/company was sold to Glazer's, Inc. He was part of the leadership team that spun off the beer division of Glazer's Inc. to Glazer's Beer and Beverage, LLC in 2016.

Ryan obtained a BBA in Marketing and an MBA in Strategic Management and Finance from UNT. He was in the middle of his career and married with children when he got his MBA. He loved the flexibility and course offerings of the MBA program of UNT because it allowed him to create an academic schedule that worked best for him, his family and career.

>Advice for students: I did not begin work on my MBA until 14 years after finishing my undergraduate degree. There is no doubt the opportunity for real world experience prior to attending business school certainly played a huge role in my learning success and ability to grasp the concepts taught in business school, and more importantly, think critically. I'm not suggesting this is the right way to approach an MBA, but I do believe some business experience is useful prior to enrolling in the program.

William Harrington
MBA - Strategic Management

My name is William Harrington, I completed my B.S. in Mathematics at UNT with minors in Secondary STEM Education and Public Administration in 2016. In 2018 I graduated with my M.Ed in Educational Leadership – also at UNT – to eventually become a principal. Now I am currently enrolled in the MBA program in Strategic Management to one day realize my ambitious goal of opening up my own secondary school. I am currently in my 4th year of teaching high school Math and Business. I’ve taught in both Texas (Lewisville ISD & Coppell ISD) and Connecticut (Windham Public Schools). I chose UNT solely for the reason of continuing my UNT legacy! I already have 2 degrees from UNT, might as well stay home and keep going! I am even thinking of doing the same for my Ph.D in Education.

My most memorable experience here at UNT is learning from the amazing professors! Special shout out to Dr. Hancock and Dr. BarNir for being amazing professors! My favorite course in the entire program BY FAR is Entrepreneurship and Venture Management. The class really fits well with my goals and ideas. Being able to think critically, creatively, flexibly, and on your feet is what is crucial to succeeding in any sector in education – especially when you are starting a business or organization from square 1.

My advice for prospective students is simply be open minded and creative. You’re going to learn classic concepts of Business, but you’re also going to dive into more contemporary views, practices, methodologies, and theories. There is no “right” way to conduct business, so just take in anything and everything you can to make the most of your experience at UNT and for the sake of your future!

JR Gramstad
MS - Accounting/Taxation

Meet JR Gramstad – The A students pay the B students to count the C students money

JR Gramstad obtained a BBA Finance and an MS – Accounting Taxation from UNT. He had several roles with financial and accounting companies in the DFW area before starting his own business. His advice to students is to find something that they love to do and get good at it.

He believes that accounting faculty at UNT helped shape him in their own particular way while at UNT.

JR Gramstad is currently the owner of JRG Taxes LLC. JRG Taxes LLC saves individual and business taxpayers millions of tax dollars a year.

Advice for students: Find a profession or career that you love doing and get good at it.