Track Athlete Isaac Barville Takes the Lead in Online MBA Program

EWU MBA Student Isaac Barville

Barville at the West Regional race 2019 wearing the EWU Jersey.

Isaac Barville ran track and field for Eastern Washington University throughout his undergrad years, and he’s sprinting through EWU’s online Master of Business Administration program, focusing on both Global Business and Finance.

“I still had eligibility left for running,” he said. The opportunity to study and compete was a big draw for him.

Eastern Washington University was not the only school Barville considered when he was looking at master’s programs, but it was the one that offered him the best way to make time for classes and the demands of track and field.

“That’s part of why I took the online MBA,” he said. “When you start missing Thursdays and Fridays for all of these meets every other week, it gets hard to balance that and school. With the online program, I’m able to balance it well because I can do my classes when I want.”

Barville is still figuring out what he wants to do with his MBA, but he is certain that the foundation he is getting at EWU will set him up for anything he chooses in the future.

“I like that it’s kind of broad,” he said. “Having a business degree means you could work for just about any business. I don’t want to be stuck in one field. At this level, a lot of the finance, the numbers and how businesses operate is pretty interesting to me. I get to see how things run and how to improve efficiency.”

Running is often a solitary endeavor. Perhaps that is why Barville is considering a future at the head of his own organization.

“I’m hoping that eventually I can save up enough and maybe start up my own business,” he said. “I think that led me to the program, and the program is leading me back to that. It shows me how feasible it is. There’s a lot you don’t know when starting your own business, but the program has helped me figure out what I don’t know and what I need to know a little bit better.”

Making Way

Barville found BADM 508: Essentials of Operations Management to be a standout class in his quest to figure out just what he would like to do in the world of business.

“It featured a pretty wide range of things,” he said. “It included some of the managerial functions, queuing, time-ordering systems and other ways of ordering. The class showed me how to be the most efficient in business, which made the class more enjoyable.”

He is currently enrolled in BADM 552: Leadership and Ethics and BADM 567: Global Accounting Environment. Taking two dissimilar classes simultaneously gives Barville an even wider range of ideas to consider.

“Global Accounting gave me the chance to work on a project analyzing international business in Japan,” he said. “We got to look at some of the other groups that researched international trade, currency exchange and financial reporting in Israel, Switzerland, Germany and Argentina. In Leadership and Ethics, we looked at good and bad examples of ethics in business leadership and then discussed ways to lead effectively.”

Even though Barville has yet to enter the business world himself, he is finding ways to put his education to work on the field.

“I’m a volunteer assistant coach at a local high school,” he said. “A lot of the concepts in the class directly translate. When you look at the different ways of leading and the differences between authority and leadership, you learn to not lean on your authority as a means of leadership. Instead, you learn to lead more through your relations in the role you take on.”

Barville will graduate from the MBA program in August 2020, and when he walks across the stage, his parents will be right there with him.

“They’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “They are glad that I was able to afford it and keep going on in school. I got a lot of support from them, which was nice.”

Practice Schedule

Now halfway through the program, Barville has regimented his schedule so he can keep up with all of his responsibilities. He established some habits to make the workload more manageable.

“The hardest part was setting the habits as opposed to the actual coursework,” he said. “I can do school and my various activities if I set the time aside and make it consistent.”

The layout of the assignments in the online program enable Barville to plan ahead.

“The coursework has been pretty consistent,” he said. “Time management is something we had to teach ourselves with the online MBA, which has been an interesting experience for sure. Waking up at the same time on weekdays gave me the freedom to use the mornings to finish a lot of my coursework before the weekend.”

Completing all of his work on this schedule gives Barville the time he needs to focus on his passion.

“I schedule it around my workouts,” he said. “They’re in the afternoon, and then I travel a lot. If I miss a Thursday or Friday, I either find the time during that Thursday and Friday when I’m not busy competing or utilize the weekend. Sundays are a great day to finish everything up. That’s also when a lot of the assignments are due.”

Barville’s best advice to prospective students is to find that balance for themselves, whether they have a topsy-turvy schedule like him or a regular 9-5 work schedule like so many of his classmates.

“You want to have a place where you can sit down and work for a few hours, and you also want to take advantage of the fact that it’s not a set class schedule and you have the opportunity to live your life a little bit more than you might otherwise.”

Learn more about EWU’s Master of Business Administration online programs.

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