Student Spotlight

MBA alumna promoted after graduation, doubles salary

Brandi Cruz

Brandi Cruz earned an MBA with an accounting emphasis from Brandman University.

Alumni Q&A

Brandi Cruz’s graduate school journey started with struggling grades and little support from another university. She quickly realized that it wasn’t working for her and she needed a new program. After hearing glowing reviews from co-workers and learning that her company had a partnership with Brandman University, she made the switch.

The switch paid off. While pursuing her MBA in accounting she was promoted multiple times from junior staff accountant to senior accountant. One year after graduating, Cruz accepted a new position with her former CFO, who hired her as the accounting manager at ATS Systems. That move doubled her salary. Cruz attributes her success to the culture of support found at Brandman, which helped her from the day she applied to the day she walked across the commencement stage.

How did going back to school help you/your career?
When I got my B.A. in liberal studies (and a minor in math), I intended to become a teacher. That did not happen for a number of reasons, and I was stuck working dead-end jobs with no career in sight. What these jobs did teach me was how much I loved managing people because it was a way for me to teach without being an actual teacher. I decided to go back to school and get an MBA with a concentration in accounting (due to my love of numbers). Since starting Brandman to now, I went from a dead-end job to an accounting manager making more than double my salary. My goal was to become an accounting manager, which happened more quickly than I thought it would. I am now doing two things I love - accounting and managing people.

Who inspired you while attending Brandman?
My entire family. My mom and my husband were the ones who urged me to go back to school. They, as well as other family members, are the reason I am where I am today. Not only were they my inspiration but they were my support system and were there for me when things got tough.

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult?
It is never too late to go back! I was in a rut and could not decide what I wanted to do. I was working dead-end jobs, and I wanted so much more. I wanted to love what I do for a living, and my MBA has given me that.

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University?
Two things surprised me: the support system the school provides and how well the program fit my needs. I had coaches and advisors from the time I put in my application to the day I graduated. If I needed anything, they were always there and happy to help. If I sent an email, I had a response within 24 hours (which was amazing to me because it usually took the advisors at the other school I went to a week to get back to me). I would even get check-in emails from my advisor from time to time. I felt like she really cared about how I was doing. The program was perfect as well because I was able to switch from the in-class program to the online program with no issue. Once I realized online was more suited for me, my entire education plan was changed within a day or two.

What would you have done differently?
I would say go back to school sooner, but…every step I took in life led me to this point, and the path I took career and education wise led me to Brandman and my MBA. By the time I went back to school, I was ready for the challenge and motivated to graduate. If I would have gone back sooner, I do not think I would have been as successful in the program. So, the answer is absolutely nothing.

What motivated you while going back to school?
My family definitely helped keep me motivated, but seeing my hard work pay off helped motivate me even further. It was nice to get the promotions and raises while I was in school because it helped show me that all this hard work was going to be worth it. In addition, I had set a personal goal to graduate with a 4.0, and every A I received motivated me to continue. I did end up successfully completing that goal and graduated with a 4.0.

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