Husband, wife complete MAM program together
Dr. Dana Miller has overseen Doane’s Developing Leader Coaches (DLC) capstone in the Master of Arts Management program for the last 13 years. She’s seen hundreds of talented and motivated individuals complete the capstone as a final milestone to students earning their degree. But, in the most recent cohort of May graduates, she experienced a first.
“We’ve had family members go through DLC at different times and together, in the same cohort group, but this was the first time we had a couple go through the experience together,” Miller said.
That couple, Bridgett ’20A and Eric Ojeda ’20A, have been married for 12 years. They began the Master of Arts in Management program (also known as the MAM program) in the fall of 2016. For nearly four years, the two chipped away at the program, taking every class together.
Eric, a manager of internal sales development at Ameritas, earned his bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2016 from Doane. Just a few months later, the Ojedas felt like it was the right time to keep the momentum going, to continue their education.
“Just coming out of earning my bachelor’s degree I thought it would be as good as time as ever to pursue a masters degree,” Eric said. “I also thought it would be valuable to show our kids the value of higher education. We thought it would be best if we did it together to keep each other on pace and encourage each other.”
“I had always wanted to go back and earn my master’s degree,” Bridgett said. “I had heard a lot of positive things about the MAM program and we thought we should jump two feet in and complete the program together.”
Bridgett, who is a project manager office director at Bryan Health, jokes that each night her and Eric had class was “date night” for them. With three kids at home, Bridgett and Eric had a babysitter every night the two had class, stating that “it would be the least disruptive to the family if we were only gone one night a week.” Like many other nontraditional students on Doane’s Lincoln campus, the Ojedas had to make many sacrifices in pursuit of their masters degrees, but they say they wouldn’t have changed a thing about their experience.
“We absolutely learned things about each other going through the graduate program together,” Bridgett said. “Watching Eric participate in class, hearing his responses, things you wouldn’t typically get to learn about your spouse was fascinating to witness. I think it was great to see the thought processes that went on in various classes. I think it actually took our relationship to another level; it was great.”
“Taking classes together allowed me to see a different side of Bridgett,” Eric added. “I had never gotten to see her present in front of a group of people, to see her do so well at that was great.”
As part of the Developing Leaders Capstone experience, students learn about the co-active coaching model. Co-active coaching allows the coach and coachee to have equal but different roles, the two are collaborators and co-active in the relationship. In co-active coaching, the coach puts the power in the coachee’s hands, using active listening to ask powerful questions to the coachee, helping them determine themselves how they can move forward to their desired outcome. In DLC, each student has hands-on learning spending time as the coach and the coachee. Kate Engel ’11A, a co-facilitator in the DLC program, served as the coach for Eric and Bridgett (separately) this past spring.
“While Eric and Bridgett are certainly a united team, they also have very individual thoughts, opinions, and goals,” Engel commented. “It was neat to learn how their individual strengths and goals fit into their overall team approach as a couple and family unit. They are huge supporters of each other and that was neat to see firsthand.”
Dr. Miller was equally impressed with Eric and Bridgett after having them as students in the capstone for seven months from October to April.
“Bridgett and Eric are both in management positions and they are exactly the kind of managers organizations need,” Dr. Miller said. “They both have strong moral compasses and care deeply about others -- they will continue to lead with integrity and heart. I think their experiences in DLC will help them be even more aware of their impact on others, in the moment, and I know they want that impact to be positive. I believe they will continue to challenge themselves to grow (and challenge each other) and will be committed to growing others.”
As for what’s next, personally, Bridgett and Eric look forward to spending more time together as a family with no school work to worry about. Professionally, the two are anxious to continue to grow in their careers and apply the knowledge they received in the MAM program to their day-to-day work.
“What we learn in the MAM program is an amazing set of tools that we add to our personal makeup that can help us carry forward,” Bridgett said. “I look forward as I lead my current team and future teams to utilize some of these tools to help us adapt to situations we weren’t ready for (COVID being a great example) and to serve others.”