“I’ve been fairly successful, even without a degree, but I felt like something was missing,” said Josh Gribben ’22, who has worked in various financial companies and insurance firms throughout his career.
When Gribben began working more closely with the finance and human resources departments at his current employer, Hartford Funds, he felt he needed to know more about these areas. “I just wasn’t fully comfortable that I was understanding everything,” he said. And as a father of young children, he wanted to be a good role model for them in pursuing a college education.
A colleague earned his bachelor’s degree at Immaculata while working and raising kids and “gave it a glowing review,” Gribben remembered. Encouraged by the flexibility of online classes and Immaculata’s discounted tuition of $250 per credit for associate degrees, coupled with his employer’s partial tuition reimbursement, Gribben started working toward his Associate of Science in Business Administration in 2019.
At his first class, Gribben told his professor he was getting back into school after 15-plus years away and asked if it was OK to ask for help. The professor was supportive and willing to help Gribben in his educational journey.
Other professors along with assistants from Immaculata’s writing center gave Gribben constructive feedback on his papers, helping him to improve his communication skills at work. He learned to vary his sentence structure, use proper grammar and avoid colloquialisms and shortcuts.
After completing his associate degree in January 2021, Gribben continued his studies at Immaculata by pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and added minors in finance and human resource management. His classes expanded his knowledge of critical business functions and units, making him feel more comfortable talking with leaders in his company.
“I had so much more confidence,” Gribben said. “I didn’t have to sit in the background. I could ask the right questions.”
Even before Gribben completed his degree, he applied concepts learned in the business management program to his job. Drawing upon knowledge acquired in his introduction to finance course, he felt more informed in his conversations with finance leaders at his workplace, and after demonstrating additional business and leadership skills, he was given more responsibility in his new role as sales operations manager.
Gribben appreciated having George Schwartz, Ed.D., assistant professor of leadership, as a mentor who offered honest feedback. Schwartz noted that Gribben was producing graduate-level work and encouraged him to pursue an advanced degree, offering to write a recommendation letter. Gribben applied to a Master of Business Administration program a few months after completing his bachelor’s degree in spring 2022 and will start MBA classes this fall.
“Take on challenges to progress through your career,” Gribben advised. “If you want something enough, you’re going to make time for it.” He and his wife had a 1-year-old and then a newborn soon after he started classes, but he studied in the evenings after the kids went to bed. He reflected with pride on his accomplishments over the last three years: a promotion at work, a bachelor’s degree and acceptance to graduate school.
“The program was everything I was hoping for,” Gribben said, mentioning its affordable cost, flexibility reasonable time to degree completion, and the professors and staff who encouraged him. “I can’t imagine it’s better elsewhere.”