MBA Grads Vincent and Christina Chicola Hold Each Other Accountable

Vincent and Christina Chicola at their wedding in December 2014.

Vincent and Christina Chicola were single-minded about earning their MBAs.

They went from married couple to study partners when they simultaneously enrolled in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette online MBA program in January 2017.

“We wanted that little boost in furthering our careers, and we figured our kids were still young enough that we could put them to bed so we could work when they went to sleep,” Christina said.

Vincent is an engineer with Baker Hughes, and Christina is a courtroom deputy for the Lafayette division of the U.S. district court. Even with such different careers, the Chicolas saw earning their MBAs as a way to enhance their professional lives.

“We did this together so that we could hold each other accountable,” Christina said. “If I was doing something by myself, I don’t know if I would finish.”

Earning their MBAs at the same time felt familiar to the Chicolas who have shared an educational journey before.

“We went to Louisiana Tech [University] together,” Christina said. “We would pull out our laptops, start studying, do homework and prepare for tests. Studying together made it a lot easier.”

In May 2020, the pair graduated from the online MBA program offered through UL Lafayette’s B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. The online format enabled the Chicolas to add studies to their busy lives. Work responsibilities include jury trials for Christina and international travel for Vincent.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it any other way than online,” Christina said. “We have young kids. We work full time, so we wouldn’t have been able to actually go into the classroom. It was perfect for us.”

Study Buddies

Becoming Ragin’ Cajuns was easy for Lafayette residents Christina and Vincent.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to support a local school and have that local pride,” Christina said. “Knowing that it was close by was also nice if we ever needed anything.”

Christina’s motivation to earn an MBA came from feedback she received in a job interview. She was urged to earn a master’s degree to further her career in the court. Vincent views the MBA as a way to move into management and increase his future earnings.

Of all the courses they took in the online MBA program, Data Analysis stands out, due in large part to the teaching style of Dr. Denise Benton.

“She was really thorough with us and did a lot of demonstrations,” Christina said.

Aside from the foundation courses Christina had to complete, which Vincent had already completed for his undergraduate degree, the couple took every course in the online MBA program together. It helped to have a dependable study partner.

“Having someone who would respond in a timely manner and hold up their end of the bargain with projects was very nice,” Vincent said.

A friendly nudge now and then kept procrastination from sidelining Christina’s studies.

“I don’t always want to do my homework,” she said. “I kind of wait until the last minute. It was nice having someone push me to get it done now so we didn’t have to worry about it later. That way, we could do other things.”

It’s a Small World

Perhaps the best thing about going through an online program together is the freedom to decide when to study and when to relax.

“During the day we work and then we have our family time with our kids,” Christina said. “We have 4-year-old twins, and our daughter is 2 months old. We would get home, still make family time, and it was not until the kids went to bed that school started. Unless we had projects that were due on the weekends, we would carve out just a couple of hours to do our homework, but for the most part, we still lived our lives.”

The couple could take a Disney vacation and not miss a beat with schoolwork. The flexibility of online learning was a boon with a growing family, too.

“When we were having a baby, we had a project due Monday, I had my daughter on Tuesday, and then we had a test the following Monday. We were still able to do all of that!”

The Chicolas offer some advice to students who may be considering the UL Lafayette online MBA program.

“I would say have patience,” Christina noted.

“You’ve got to plan your day,” Vincent added. “Allocate the right amount of time and prioritize. None of it is particularly difficult, but it is time-consuming and requires a certain level of effort. If you put forth the effort, you will pass.”

Having crossed the finished line with full-time jobs and little ones in tow, the Chicolas feel a sense of accomplishment.

“I will definitely be shouting it from the rooftops now that we’ve completed it,” Christina said. “We did it together!”

Learn more about the UL Lafayette online MBA program.

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