Michelle Foret was a bit apprehensive when she enrolled in the Master of Business Administration online program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
”Being out of school for as long as I was, for more than 20 years, I started with one class to get back into the swing of things,” she said. ”However, after my first class, I understood the online format and started doing two classes per term, which I continued doing until I was finished.”
Foret completed the program in 15 months and officially graduated in May 2019. She and her husband, Craig, have two sons — Phillip (20) and Thomas (15). Phillip is a biology major who attends UL Lafayette on campus.
”The MBA was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” she said. ”My children are older now, which allowed me the freedom to go back to school and focus. Luckily, I was able to find a regional online program that I was very comfortable pursuing. It is achievable.”
Foret has worked at South Louisiana Bank for more than 16 years. She started out as a credit analyst in 2008 and is now a senior credit analyst.
”I did the program for me, personally,” Foret said. ”I wanted to expand my opportunities at my job. I believe earning an MBA and having that extra degree is going to make me more marketable. I plan to capitalize on it.”
Home, Sweet Houma
Foret never lost her love for her home state. She grew up in Houma, where she works, and now lives in nearby Gray. She discovered early on what profession she would pursue.
”I grew up loving math,” Foret said. ”When I was in high school, I took an accounting course. I have been hooked ever since.”
In 1996, Foret graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Nicholls State University to become the first person in her immediate family to earn a college degree. When Foret researched online MBA programs, she narrowed her focus to Louisiana universities.
”UL Lafayette was a Louisiana college and an accredited university,” she said. ”I could go anywhere and get an online degree, but I wanted an accredited university in our state. I looked at other schools, but UL Lafayette was the most reasonably priced one and included all of the books.”
With a full-time job and a family, Foret needed the ability to work on school around her schedule.
”When I am taking two classes at a time, I spend 10-15 hours on school each week,” she said. ”I get up at 5 a.m. and work on school during my lunch break. Then, if I have to, I work on it until almost midnight.
”It was something that I wanted to do. I put in the time and dedication to get it done. I thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility of the program.”
To help make the transition back into school smoother, Foret started the online MBA program with MBA 510: Foundations of Accounting. After getting her feet wet, she was ready to tackle the rest of the curriculum.
”I started with accounting, which was something that I knew well, ” Foret said. ”That helped me. I was apprehensive about getting back into school mentality when I started the program.”
She also especially enjoyed BSAT 510: Data Analysis, which allowed her to explore working with spreadsheets and other programs relevant to her career.
”I was definitely able to use the information I was learning at work immediately,” Foret said. ”Plus, whenever I had a question, the professors always responded within 24 hours. I didn’t have a problem with any of the classes.”
Balancing work and school, while still making time for family, was crucial to her success in the online MBA program.
”Time management is one of the key things — especially with a full-time job and a full-time family,” Foret said. ”Remember that family is important. Put in the time it takes to better your family’s situation.”
Foret thrived off the love and support of her family throughout her time in the program.
”When I first decided I wanted to go back, I sat down with my husband and my two boys and talked to them about it,” Foret said. ”They were totally on board. They gave me a Christmas present right before I started the program. When I opened it, they said, in sync, ‘We’re proud of you.’ That was really special to me.”
The Next Chapter
Foret plans to celebrate the accomplishment of becoming the first person in her immediate family to earn a graduate degree at home.
”I’m having my degree mailed to me,” she said. ”Once I have it in hand, we plan on doing a small family celebration. Spending time with family is very important to us.
”We’ll go to New Orleans and spend the day and go to the zoo and the aquarium when my oldest son is home. We also like to go to comic book conventions.”
While Foret is sure the MBA will help create opportunities for her with her current company, she eventually wants to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam and explore a new career path.
”The dedication and what I learned in the MBA program will help me do better on the CPA exam,” she said. ”I want to do online teaching, not physically in a classroom. Several people seem to have trouble understanding the basics of accounting, which is something I believe I can help students learn.”
Whatever the future holds for Foret, she is excited to check earning an MBA off her list of goals.
”I definitely got great value,” she said. ”I told the head of the MBA program [P. Robert Viguerie] that it was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done, but it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
Learn more about the UL Lafayette online General MBA program.