Cohort comprised of international students bond through capstone in MAM program
Doane University’s December Commencement ceremony marked the 25th year of graduates in the Master of Arts in Management (also known as MAM) program. The program has seen students elevate their careers in a wide variety of fields and has appealed to a diverse audience of professionals.
December’s MAM graduating class featured 33 students that represented a tremendous amount of diversity in the group. Among the group, there are six people who are either active military members or veterans, one student, Jessica Shultis, who is currently Miss Nebraska, and ten international students in the group.
Of the ten international students, nine of them were finishing the capstone in person. Those students were placed into Cohort 58, comprising the entire group of Cohort 58 in the Developing Leader Coaches (DLC) capstone program. Dr. Dana Miller is the director of the DLC program, which is currently a nine credit, nine-month capstone experience focused on developing self-awareness, coaching skills, and leadership skills.
“It helps students become more self-aware and emotionally intelligent,” Dr. Miller said. “It is about leadership from the inside out. It allows students to pause and reflect deeply on things like purpose, core values, living authentically, and living in character versus image persona. It challenges them to consider their interactions with others, their impact on others, and their leadership legacy.”
Dr. Miller said it was an intentional and well thought out decision to place the nine international students together in one cohort, to provide a unique kind of support for them as they completed the rigorous capstone experience. While Dr. Miller oversees the program, Cathy Dillon and Helen Fagan served as the faculty co-facilitators of Cohort 58.
Dillon, who is also the academic advisor for students in graduate business degree programs, and Fagan, who is a 2008 graduate of the MAM program, worked side-by-side with this group of international students from March-December in the capstone program.
“This was absolutely the best experience I’ve ever had in teaching,” said Fagan, who is originally from Iran and is considered an expert in the field of intercultural communications. “It was fulfilling beyond words for me.”
The group of students, representing six different countries, includes: Mohamed Ali ’18A (Sudan), Mohanna Barbar Askar ’18A (Syria), Shesha Sai Pavan Kumar Bonam ’18A (India), Khamies Darfur ’18A (Sudan), Xiaoxiao Li ’18A (China), Kaichong Lin ’18A (China), Shully Mudundulu ’18A (Zambia), Mei Ying Ong ’18A (Malaysia), and Yee Chun Ong ’18A (Malaysia).
“I think putting all of the international students together in one cohort made it less intimidating,” Mudundulu said. “We are one family, pushing for one goal.”
She added, “This program is so unique. It turns you inside out, allowing yourself to find out everything about you. The professors were very helpful and open to us, they were very supportive.”
Mudundulu is a mother of five and wife to a pastor who currently lives in Zambia. She is a servant leader in every sense of the word, as she devotes so much of her time to giving back.
She buys used clothes in bulk and sends them back to women in Zambia, helping them become individual entrepreneurs because they have American clothing to sell. In addition, she takes in youth who are struggling with drug addiction and serves as a mentor to them.
Mudundulu says she would like to utilize the knowledge and experience she received in the MAM program to help her work in the church and especially with women, “to nurture them and help guide them to where they are supposed to be.”
While all of the students made a lasting impact on Fagan and Dillon, it was Mudundulu, in particular, that Fagan mentioned as someone that really stood out to her.
“She is such an amazing person,” Fagan said. “She is affecting people’s lives right here, right now in multiple places in the world.”
While some of the international students were full-time students, pursuing their degree, others were working full-time on top of taking graduate-level courses. Mohamed Ali falls into the latter category, as he is an arabic instructor with the Air Force.
“When I first started the program, I couldn’t imagine the magnitude and benefits that someone can get from this program,” he said. “We have diverse ideas and opinions and bring our own life experiences to the classes. I learned so much from the others in my group. It was a great experience.”
While the students praised how much they enjoyed the MAM program, faculty members, like Fagan, say they equally took as much away from the experience.
“My skills as a professor improved in terms of learning how to navigate teaching and assessing students from six different countries of birth,” Fagan said. “In many ways it was life-changing. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this cohort group.”
More information on the Master of Arts in Management program can be found here.