Ohioan Lacey Madison Adds Second Master’s Degree in Online MBA Program

Lacey Madison had already built a successful career in business and education when she moved into an administrative role.

“The business piece was something I always wanted to expand on,” she said. “It also fit my career path and was the next step to expanding my skill set.”

So, Madison returned to higher education and graduated from the MBA – General online program at Youngstown State University (YSU) in 2019.

She is in her fifth year as director of operations for Family and Community Medicine and the College of Medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

“The school that I work for partners with four different institutions, but I chose YSU because the MBA program was 100% online and was fully accredited,” she said.

“I would not have been able to graduate in the time frame that I wanted without the online format, because the classes were asynchronous.”

Madison and her husband, Michael, have five children — Amy (30), Michael (25), Lucas (22), Jack (20) and Will (15). She and her three oldest children were in college at the same time for a while.

“There wasn’t a lot of sympathy for them on my end,” she said. “I said, ‘Get it done. You see me busting it. You need to bust it, too.’ For me, doing the MBA program full time and working full time took my entire family supporting that decision, which they did.”

In learning how to become an online student, Madison had to change the study habits ingrained in her brain from the last time she was in college.

“I had never taken an online course, so I was a little terrified,” she said. “My learning styles were based on techniques that were popular when I was in school, such as having books, printing things out and highlighting and reading notes.”

It took her a year-and-a-half to stop writing things down and making outlines. After that she felt confident enough to grasp and apply the materials she read only online.

Back to School

Madison, who still lives in her hometown of Salem, Ohio, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Kent State University in 1994. Once she decided to try teaching, she added a master’s degree in counseling from Xavier University.

“My career in education was more of a journey,” she said. “When I started working, I was a career adviser and adjunct faculty member at Kent State University at Salem. I taught mental health in the human development program.”

After taking a five-year break to focus on family, Madison returned to the workforce as a consultant for Eastern Gateway Community College for four years. She then worked for Bush Consulting Group for two-and-a-half years before returning to higher education.

“I love working in mental healthcare,” she said. “We are currently developing a center for integrative and primary mental healthcare at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). Focusing on that area of care is a major career goal.”

In January 2021, Madison will expand her role at NEOMED as the chief strategy officer. In this role, she will help to align university performance through cohesive strategic plan execution, knowledge management and organizational effectiveness.

OMBA 6922: Cost Based Decision-Making, taught by Dr. Birsen Karpak, was Madison’s favorite course in the YSU online MBA curriculum.

“Dr. Karpak was very dedicated and took as much time as necessary to make sure each student understood the topics before moving on,” she said. “She utilized video, conferencing, team and individual office hours and linear programming in her class.

“Although it was complex, it increased my skill set relative to resource allocation, data visualization techniques and interpretation and sensitivity analysis, which I use frequently. Her commitment and kindness elevated it to the next level. She epitomized everything about how online learning can be successful.”

Madison enhanced and customized her MBA experience by taking electives outside the core curriculum that piqued her interest.

“The curriculum offered a green belt training as an elective, and I used the other electives to build an independent study that allowed me to pursue a Lean Six Sigma black belt,” she said. “[Coupling] the MBA and the Lean Six Sigma black belt has proven to be very marketable.”

Pomp and Circumstance

After completing the online MBA program, Madison donned a cap and gown and walked the graduation stage at YSU.

“I really enjoyed the commencement ceremony — it was meaningful,” she said. “I made some connections that were both professional and personal. It’s a self-learning trajectory. You have to do it yourself.”

Madison, who also volunteers in her free time, said the most important thing for students who have been out of college for a long time and are considering an online degree program is to embrace change.

“Don’t be afraid of the technology,” she said. “Don’t let that hold you back if you’re not familiar with online learning. You pick it up very quickly. If you are looking at an online format, you should be a self-starter and driven by outcomes. It falls on you to make sure you get as much out of it as possible.”

Now that Madison has two master’s degrees under her belt, she is glad that she committed to enhancing her knowledge base and skill set. Earning a graduate degree online required her to prioritize work and school.

“My husband had to focus on the family responsibilities that I had typically handled in the past,” she said. “It was a challenging experience and a great experience at the same time.”

Learn more about YSU’s online MBA programs.

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