Native New Yorker William Hopkins has a new home in Texas that is deep in his heart after graduating from the Master of Business Administration online program at Baylor University in December 2018.
"My mother, Mary, was the most excited," Hopkins said. "She flew down with me for graduation. We had a great time. It was our first time at Baylor and our first time in Waco. It felt like coming home.
"I know it sounds weird because everything was online, but I met [Online MBA Associate Director] Mary Reinhardt and several classmates I was familiar with from discussion boards. It felt great to see everyone and be on campus. I felt like a Bear."
Hopkins, a vice president and portfolio manager for Metropolitan Commercial Bank on Park Avenue in New York City, also found redemption by completing the online MBA program.
"Earning a master's degree was a personal academic milestone I wanted to achieve," he said. "I didn't finish my undergraduate degree in a fashion that I hoped I would, so I wanted to try to challenge myself and test myself."
Baylor can thank the reality show "Fixer Upper" for turning Hopkins' attention from the Big Apple to central Texas.
"It's a little silly, but with Chip and Joanna Gaines and their show being so popular, it kind of put Waco on the map," he said. "Of course, I knew about Baylor because it has had a great football team. There was a lot of hype around Waco."
Hopkins was sold after thoroughly researching the online MBA program.
"I wanted to do an accelerated program. I wanted to do it online. I wanted it from a reputable school that had some brand recognition," Hopkins said. "Baylor checked all of the boxes, and I was able to complete the MBA in 16 months. It all worked out."
Hopkins started college after graduating from high school in Queens. He attended Orange County Community College and Mount Saint Mary College and lived in the Hudson Valley for 15 years. Hopkins graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from the Southern New Hampshire University in 2016.
"For a lot of people, it's more circumstance than dreams of being a banker that leads to a career in banking," he said. "I had a part-time job as a teller at a bank, and I had an aptitude for customer service, money and numbers. I kept on getting promotions, and I made the transition from retail to commercial lending. I enjoy it."
In order to fully concentrate on the online MBA program, Hopkins took 13 months off after leaving his job at Greater Hudson Bank. He started his job at Metropolitan Commercial Bank and moved to Manhattan two months before graduating from Baylor.
"I wanted to dedicate myself and focus on my academics and school, get good grades and perform well," he said. "I was still able to explore some fun internships and have something else to do and see other industries and businesses. There was a period of time when I was a full-time student and a full-time worker. It was challenging, but the flexibility made it manageable."
Although Hopkins found all of the information in the online MBA curriculum applicable to his career, two courses stood out as his favorites.
"I loved [MGT 5410:] Managing for Higher Performance," he said. "That course was the most fun, and all of the content and videos were amazing and high quality. [MGT 5485:] Strategic Management and Business Policy was also great. It highlighted what you want to be as a leader and what it takes to not only make goals but how to execute them."
Hopkins honed more than his business acumen in the online MBA program. He found practical application for its well-rounded development of skills.
"I learned the value of putting in the time and working hard," he said. "From an academic standpoint, that was crucial. It's really helped me professionally, as well. While the MBA provides a lot of knowledge, it's very much a broad stroke of business and doesn't go too in depth with the finer details or zero in on any particular industry or specialization."
The ability to look at business via the big picture has already paid big dividends for Hopkins.
"Having that broader stroke and a view from 30,000 feet provided a lot to me because, in my current role, I look at several different businesses and industries for loans and lending," he said. "Having a general knowledge at more of a higher level than you would get with a bachelor's degree has helped me separate myself from some of the other people here, although nothing takes away from working hard to be successful."
Hopkins, who loves to travel and play guitar, joins several family members who have earned master's degrees. He believes his story is an example for others who are in similar academic circumstances.
"There are a lot of people in my position who maybe didn't finish their bachelor's degree on time and might be hesitant to try to get into an MBA program," he said. "I would say go for it. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort, but there is a great support system at Baylor.
"The online MBA program offered everything I was looking for, so for people who want that accelerated program and the flexibility of online learning from a great institution, I couldn't recommend Baylor highly enough."
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.