Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Online MBA program receives praise from N.C. graduate

December 18, 2013

Scott Stephenson, his daughter, Haley, and wife, Melissa, of Willow Spring, N.C., celebrate Scott's graduation from Chadron State College with an MBA degree following the exercises in Memorial Hall Dec. 13.
Scott Stephenson, his daughter, Haley, and wife, Melissa, of Willow Spring, N.C., celebrate Scott's graduation from Chadron State College with an MBA degree following the exercises in Memorial Hall Dec. 13.

Scott Stephenson, of Willow Spring, N.C., earned his MBA from Chadron State College last week and said he could not be more pleased with his experience obtaining the degree.

Prior to arriving in Chadron for the Dec. 13 graduate commencement exercises, Stephenson was in Arizona for corporate meetings. He hopped a red-eye to get back to North Carolina and pick up his family only to catch another plane to Denver.

“I’ve traveled 6,000 miles in 24 hours to get here. This is important and I wanted our family to be here together,” he said.

Melissa, Scott’s wife, said, “He only does things that he can be proud of. He’s very proud of this degree from Chadron State.”

Scott expressed high praise for the interactions with all of his committee members, Dr. Wendy Waugh, Dr. Tim Donahue and Dr. August Bruehlman.

Scott’s motivation to earn an MBA came about in a unique way. He had entered into negotiations to sell one of his entrepreneurial ventures to a potential buyer who had an MBA. The individual threw out big words and complicated-sounding phrases, so Stephenson contacted his accountant and consulted with him before continuing.

“I said, ‘This isn’t happening to me again,’ and I started looking for an online MBA program right away,” he said.

After two intense weeks of searching the websites of institutions in his home state of North Carolina, Florida and elsewhere in Nebraska, Stephenson concluded that Chadron State College offered what he wanted so he began the application and enrollment process in 2011.

Based on his undergraduate degree in chemistry, the 38-year-old has helped launch two different businesses.

The first was Vortex Pharma Group. It involved servicing analytical instrumentation equipment which is used in the testing of pharmaceutical and animal health products. These services ensured the equipment met regulatory requirements and assisted in the efficacy of products being tested.

In 2010, he co-founded a second business, Vortex Sales Group, which not only services and supports analytical equipment, but provides direct sales of the equipment as well.  Vortex Sales Group represents companies in the U.S. and abroad, which requires travel around the globe. Vortex Sales Group has grown to seven employees in the first three years of incorporation.

Although he travels the world regularly, he feels that Chadron is a special place.

“There’s something about it I can’t describe,” Scott said between sips of hot chocolate while listening to live music with his family at the Bean Broker Friday night.

“I liked how Dr. Bahr talked about ‘place’ in her commencement address. I really liked Chadron when I came here for my final oral exam and it’s even better returning this second time with my family,” he said. His exam was on the topic of the ethics of doing business in China, something with which he has a lot of personal experience.

Melissa added that they have chickens, horses and other animals on their acreage 30 miles from Raleigh, N.C. so the agricultural references in Bahr’s speech confirmed the common bond they feel with Chadron.

Friday night after graduation, Scott and Melissa’s daughter, Haley, was proudly wearing a pink camouflage hat with a fur liner and ear flaps which she bought at Cabela’s in Sidney when the family drove through on their way to Chadron after their flight landed in Denver.

The spunky sixth-grader was given permission to miss school since she would be seeing her dad graduate, Mount Rushmore and other educational venues while on the trip to Chadron.

Her father had an interesting experience doing his homework “on the road” in the spring of this year. Scott took a final for one class while in Thailand, turned in a report in Japan and then took a test for a different class back at home in North Carolina, all within 24 hours.

“I love the diversity of the other students in my classes. They come from such varied backgrounds and we learn so much from each other. From a government worker to a mom and pop veterinary clinic, to new students who just earned their bachelor’s degrees. These classes cast a wide net,” he said.

—Tena L. Cook, Interim Marketing Coordinator