Alumna Tara Kenning Comes Home Via Online MBA Program After Career Change

Ten years after Tara Jaraysi Kenning graduated from Eastern Washington University (EWU), the Eagle returned to a familiar nest.

“I got my undergrad in visual communication design, but my career took a little bit of a different path,” she said. “I worked in a lot of business services-type positions.

“I went back to get my master’s degree to learn new skills and topics that would help me in my future endeavors in the business world.”

Kenning graduated from the online Master of Business Administration with a General Business Concentration program at EWU in May 2021.

Although she did not take any online courses during her undergrad, Kenning easily adjusted to a new way of learning at her alma mater.

“It took a couple of weeks to get into it,” she said. “One of my co-workers who was more familiar with online courses took the program with me. Together, we were able to figure it out.

“You also meet other people in the program, so you have them there to help you figure out the online format if you miss something.”

Kenning, who works full time as an asset management requirements specialist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, liked the flexibility of setting her own pace for time to completion.

“I could choose how many classes I take at once,” she said. “I could take a half-quarter off if I needed a break. If I wanted to double up on classes, I could. The flexibility of it being online and getting to choose when to take my classes was very helpful.”

In Alignment

Kenning was born in Kuwait and raised in Tri-Cities, Washington, where she developed an interest in graphic design. She completed her Bachelor of Arts program on the EWU campus in 2009.

“Right after college, I took a position at Hanford,” she said. “It wasn’t a graphic design position, but I wanted a job. I liked reporting and records and project controls. I learned that I liked those types of positions, as well, so I stayed with it.”

However, Kenning fed her passion for graphic design by channeling it into entrepreneurship with a graphic design business.

“I did that for a few years so I could still use my degree on a separate endeavor,” she said. “I still do some as a hobby for my friends.”

After working as a project control analyst for CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company for nearly a decade, Kenning switched over to her current role in late 2018. She enrolled in EWU’s online MBA program the following year.

“I thought about a couple of other MBA programs, but EWU was at the top of my priority list,” she said. “About the time that I started seriously thinking of getting my MBA, I heard that EWU was getting its new online program. I instantly knew that’s the direction I wanted to go.”

BADM 533: International Investments, an elective, was Kenning’s favorite course in the online MBA curriculum.

“That’s the one that had a lot of real-life application, but the information that I learned in each of the program’s courses was applicable,” she said. “A lot of the higher-level management classes were very helpful for a broad spectrum of topics.”

Rule of Thirds

Kenning is not the only Eagle in her family. Her sister, Jana Jaraysi, also graduated with a master’s degree from EWU, where she is also preparing to start a doctoral program. Their brother, Naeem Jaraysi, also recently graduated from the university with his bachelor’s degree.

“They were excited and supportive of me getting my MBA,” she said. “We are a big EWU family. We also enjoy spending time together when times are normal.”

Although Kenning loves her job and does not have an ultimate career goal, she believes that having an MBA will create career opportunities for her down the road.

“This degree will open some doors for me,” she said. “It has given me a lot of background information in almost any kind of position that I want to go into.”

The nature of learning online appealed to Kenning, who especially enjoyed the accelerated format with six-week courses. Plus, earning an online MBA from her alma mater made the experience extra special.

“It’s a great program if you’re an independent learner,” she said. “If you have a different schedule than most, you can do classes and homework whenever.

“It’s also great for people who want a bit of a faster pace to earn their degree because you are learning quickly. I got good value out of the MBA program. It was a great experience.”

Learn more about Eastern Washington University’s online MBA program.

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