Business

Successful student-husband-father credits Brandman with changing his life

December 12, 2016 by Cindy O'Dell
Matt Medland with his son Lucas.

Matt Medland with his son Lucas.

Matt Medland is about to start a new job as a project management specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Sacramento, working on projects as diverse as dams, wildlife and recreation, emergency management and flood risk awareness.

“Everything I learned at Brandman is going to be put to use,” said Medland. “I’ll be assisting with the management of the Joint Federal Project at the Folsom Dam and the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project.”

Medland earned his B.B.A. in 2014 and his MBA in 2016 but has a background in electronics after 12 years in the Navy, working as an aviation electronics technician with Super Hornets. He wasn’t always so confident that his educational choices were the right ones. He wondered how to make use of both his technical knowledge and his business education. That’s when a few words of encouragement from School of Business and Professional Studies faculty member Dr. Helen Eckmann made a difference.

During a class on process analysis and innovation, Medland asked via a live Adobe Connect session about his conundrum. “I couldn’t quite make the connection in my head between business and electronics. I decided to ask Dr. Eckmann her thoughts. She quite literally told me that I was the best of both worlds. Firms and organizations the world over were dying to get MBAs hired that also had a technical background. She told me that I was like a unicorn in that it was almost impossible to find intelligent, educated, hard-working ex-technicians that were eager to tackle the business sector and apply skills from both areas.”

He quoted her in his job interview. “And two weeks later they offered me the job.” The job offer reunites him with his wife, Peggy Sue Medland, and his children, who moved to Sacramento earlier so his wife could accept a job opportunity with a government agency. “Without my business education with Brandman, my ability to connect my technical background to a challenging position description in an interview, and being able to have a hilarious quote from an incredible college professor, there is no way I would have landed this job.”

A winding road to college

Medland, like so many Brandman students, didn’t take the most direct route to getting an education. He dropped out of high school, leaving his senior year to work full time in a minimum wage job.

“When I realized the fruitlessness of my actions and decisions, I hit the reset button and joined the U.S. Navy,” said Medland. When he left 12 years later, he went to work as a civilian purchasing agent at Naval Station Lemoore and decided to get serious about his education. He began classes at Brandman’s Lemoore campus almost immediately.

weddingannouncedEven then, life was full of complications. He and Peggy married on Dec. 12, 2012, which put them on the front page of the local paper (Peggy Sue Got Married 12/12/12) but also made him an instant father to Aaron, now 17, and Adia, now 13. He was still working on his undergraduate degree when their son Lucas was born two months prematurely.

“I literally finished the finals of two classes while we were in the hospital waiting for Lucas to be born and then started two more classes while driving to the neonatal infant care unit at Clovis Community Hospital for 30 days. The first story I read to my son was “Global Business Today,” the textbook for MGTU-400, the Global Environment of Business. I had to keep studying,” said Medland.

Shortly before finishing his bachelor’s degree, Medland earned a major promotion that brought a much-needed raise in pay. “I can only attribute getting that position to being in college and getting such stellar grades,” he said. He began work on his MBA without taking a break.

Life happens

There were more complications. Lucas was diagnosed with autism and needed intense and time-consuming therapy. Medland had begun to neglect his own health in his efforts to provide for his family, go to school and manage therapy sessions and meetings. “I went from being fit to 290 pounds. I was huge. I had serious, serious health issues.”

And that’s when Brandman once again made a difference. “Throughout business classes, sustainability stood out as a key subject. It’s the idea that when you’re taking from part of the planet, you don’t take from the source itself. You take from the excess that it provides. We are only supposed to take what can be replaced by nature.”

It was during the final class of the MBA program that everything changed. With Eckmann as his instructor, Medland was writing a business plan for an organic chicken egg farm in the Fresno area with an excess of 44,000 egg-laying chickens. “Everything was going fine until I proposed my business plan. The reaction from my writing partner was priceless: I was instantly fired.  My writing partner couldn’t stand to read every week what I wrote about both genocide and the destruction of the planet while disguising it as some puffed up environmentalist and sustainability piece. My ex-writing partner then asked a simple question, ‘What do you do with all of the chickens when they stop laying eggs?’”.

Medland in his Navy days.

Medland in his Navy days.

He said he knew right away that the death of 44,000 living beings would be on his hands when they were sold to Tyson down the street. That is when his research led him to the conclusion that “animal agriculture is the single greatest cause of environmental destruction in history.”

He decided to cut all animal products from his life. The switch, he says, saved his life. “All my symptoms are gone. I’ve lost 47 pounds since February and I’m still losing weight.”

Medland is considering going even further with Brandman, weighing whether to begin working toward a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.). “I want to go as far as I can to set an example to my children and every generation to come in our bloodline. I live for my wife and kids and want nothing more than to be the example of how incredibly far one can go with their dreams and education. My life is for them. I live not for myself, but for my family who I love, especially my wife, Peggy Sue.”

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