Carol Thompson

Online MBA, Class of 2014
Office Manager, Funding Smart Answers

“More than 30 years ago, I graduated from WSU with bachelor’s degrees in hotel and restaurant administration and business administration. In 2011, I received an email promoting the online MBA program (OMBA); I was curious but leery about taking the graduate management admission test. If accepted, could I handle going back to school? Despite my concerns, I was accepted into the program in the fall of 2011. From my first class, I have been able to apply the content, sharing it with co‐workers. I had been feeling “stuck” where I had been working for more than 15 years.

“My WSU OMBA journey has taken unexpected turns. Soon after I began the program, my department at work was eliminated. As I explored my options, I realized I wanted to do something new, so I decided to move from Seattle to Phoenix to be closer to my sons. I was hired by Macy's as a holiday recovery employee, then permanently as a selling associate and later as an administrative support member in the executive office — all within six months.

“My OMBA capstone project was inspired by my husband, Tracy, whom I met at WSU. In 2004, he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). When he eventually lost the ability to swallow, doctors surgically implanted a feeding tube called a PEG. At an ALS support group meeting, I learned that the normal way to protect the PEG is with medical tape that has to be torn off several times a day, often causing pain, itching, skin irritation, and infection. Thanks to our nurses, we never experienced those complications because they had given us a "tube top," built from maternity underwear, to protect the PEG.

“Though I lost Tracy in 2008, my experience led to the creation of the “Mesh Band,” a formal version of the tube top that will help not only ALS patients but hundreds of thousands of others with serious medical conditions that impact swallowing or require adhesive appliances. Currently, I'm researching potential manufacturing partners and hope to patent Mesh Band in the United States.

“Before I started the OMBA program, I was told that I don't need an MBA because my work experience is more valuable. While that may be true in part, the confidence, real‐world business skills, and ideas I’ve gained in the OMBA program will allow me to make an important difference in the lives of others.”

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