Campus: Bakersfield -- June 8, 2006

Outstanding CSU Bakersfield Graduate

Craig Fisher's story is a familiar one. The 38-year-old father and husband had been out of school for more than a decade when he decided to return for his master's and didn't know what to expect. "Going back to school was exciting, but I was a little nervous about my abilities since I had been out of school for 12 years," he said.

By the first quarter Fisher "got back into the groove" and on Saturday, June 10, he will prove he had nothing to be nervous about, graduating from California State University, Bakersfield with his master's in business administration.

Fisher has worked for State Farm Insurance for nearly 19 years and started when he was completing his bachelor's degree in psychology at Metropolitan State College in Denver. He's currently a claim team manager in Bakersfield and is the California catastrophe coordinator. "I'm responsible for preparing for, and coordinating, State Farm's response to all catastrophe activity in California," he said.

He believes the skills he's learned from CSUB have really helped him in the professional world. "The course material began helping me understand my business from the very first class," Fisher said. "Each class has increased my understanding of business and I've been able to apply my knowledge in many ways. Last week, I gave a presentation to a group of 40 first-line and second-line managers regarding leadership and organizational development.

"Understanding business more thoroughly makes you more effective in your everyday duties; you understand the reasons behind your business decisions and how it will impact the organization as a whole," he continued. "Additionally, I have been applying my new knowledge in committee work and feel that I am more effective in helping State Farm and our customers."

Returning to the classroom wasn't the easiest thing. In addition to the length of time Fisher had spent away from the classroom he also had other responsibilities but weighed the overall outcome. "For those with families who may be wondering if it is worth giving up two years of your life for an MBA, I would say that it does present its hardships and you don't see your family as much as you'd like, but in the end it is worth the effort," he said. "I have improved my ability to be a manager and leader within State Farm."

With all the day-to-day challenges Fisher had to face, what made him choose CSUB? "I have known others who have taken online degree programs or other non-traditional programs and I'm convinced the quality of education I received is superior," he said. "The best part is that the CSUB MBA program is on quarters so you can finish your degree in two years or less. Most non-traditional programs aren't much shorter, and I believe the education I received is far superior. Since the CSUB MBA program is AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited the degree is recognized as being based on the highest standard in business education. I believe this translates into more and better opportunities for graduates.

"It has been an outstanding learning experience. The professors are knowledgeable about the subjects they are teaching and understand that working professionals have lives outside of school," Fisher said. "Most professors have consulting businesses, or other types of businesses, so they have a working knowledge in addition to their academic knowledge. This provides a well-rounded approach to teaching, not just theory, but practical application too. The professors have been flexible with business travel requirements."

Fisher also enjoyed the networking he was able to do while in the program. "Much of the course work is done in teams. Working with other students, in teams, has enhanced my learning. I have been able to learn a lot from people who work in other industries and jobs. It has also been great to work with students who completed their bachelor's degrees and immediately entered the MBA program," he said. "Since they do not have a lot of business experience, they are able to learn from those of us who have been working for some time. The class format is a combination of seminar discussions, team projects and presentations, which reinforces the learning. My classes ranged in size from 10 to 30, so there is a lot of interaction with the professors.

"Having an MBA, and additional skills, will make me more competitive for promotional opportunities within State Farm."

Contacts:
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu
Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, jloveless@csub.edu


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