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Elia Zarate

Jerome Harney


Hometown: Tustin, California

Major: MBA

Graduating: December 2022

Why did you choose to attend GSW?
I was looking for an accredited and affordable online MBA program. GSW checked both of those boxes, and more.

Please list your University highlights, achievements, leadership and awards.

  • Fuller Center Volunteer Award
  • TEDxGeorgiaSouthwesternU Student Organizer
  • Gamma Beta Phi 2022
  • BA in English from University of California, Irvine

What makes GSW special?
Being a part of TEDxGeorgiaSouthwesternU gave me a broader perspective on why GSW is so special. It's the people at GSW. If you are willing to become engaged, the faculty and staff are there for the students, and they will go the extra mile to help students get what they need to succeed. I felt this way entering as an online MBA student, but when I had the chance to meet and interact with faculty and staff, I saw in person how committed GSW is to the students and GSW community. The people at GSW make the place.

What are some of the challenges and/or perks of online learning?
Online learning is great for people like me: full-time job, family and a crazy schedule. Asynchronous learning is great because you can fit in class work around your schedule. You do have deadlines and you can't let down teammates on group projects, so you do have to manage your time (just like in the business world). The tough thing about being remote is the lack of face-to-face, in-person experience. But with the technology available, you can easily connect with peers and professors. The experience really depends on you and your commitment to engage with the GSW community.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I wanted to go to grad school when I was younger, but I focused on work, had a family, and just never made going back to school a priority. But I have always believed in continuous learning and have encouraged my sons to take education seriously. During the pandemic-related school shutdowns, both of my sons and my wife, who is a teacher, were learning online. I sort of felt left out and started researching online MBA programs. The key words for my search were: affordable and accredited. I found GSW, and now I am about to graduate. During my time a GSW, I found a better job and use skills learned or enhanced in the program every day.

What advice do you have for incoming students?
Whether you are an online MBA student, an on-campus undergraduate, or another type of student, I would say that the experience you have at GSW really depends a lot on you. Again, you have to make the commitment to engage, get creative, and make the experience yours.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
Many years ago, I was on the rowing team (crew) at Orange Coast College for 2 years and at UC Irvine for 2 years. I grew up in Pasadena, California, and moved to Costa Mesa, CA, so that I could attend OCC, a community college. Rowing for Coast changed my life and taught me how to push through obstacles and achieve goals. This carried over at UCI, where I rowed for the crew and majored in English. Being a student athlete was tough sometimes, but I had a lot of fun and I think it helped me to stay on track and graduate with good grades, not to mention some great memories.

Who is your favorite author? Why?
Hemingway, because his writing style is straight forward and economical, but his writing is detailed and powerful enough to help you visualize and feel the richness of the story he's telling.

Posted Septmeber 6, 2022