News at WilmU

The DBA Hits Its 10-year Milestone

Graduates of Wilmington University’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program are leading organizations in diverse fields — not to mention making the world a better place.

DBA grads work in multiple fields: higher education, finance, health care, government and nonprofit and more. Their titles: chief marketing officer, chief financial officer, senior vice president, dean, executive director, director of supply chain, professor, and others, are illustrative of their successes. In fact, two-thirds of DBA graduates have received a promotion or a new full-time job since starting their WilmU programs. 

The gathering of DBA alums who celebrated the recent 10-year anniversary inspired serious buzz. And it was no wonder. The event, “A Decade of Impact…The Journey Continues,” reflected the high level of alumni success.

Some of the 125 alums couldn’t attend and sent their good wishes and thoughts. In addition to obtaining a highly valued credential, they noted an appreciation for the enhanced leadership, communication and critical thinking skills, as well as increased confidence and decision-making abilities.  Equally important were the strong relationships they developed with faculty and fellow students.   

Dr. Helena Costakis

The DBA grads shared many inspiring stories. Like Dr. Helena Costakis, who had long harbored a dream of earning a doctoral degree, though it took a life-threatening illness for her to muster the resolve to move forward despite many obstacles.  After much research, she found that WilmU offered a nurturing environment that valued her as a whole person and recognized her potential. Dr. Costakis loved the program’s practical focus and was able to apply everything she learned immediately in her role as a human resources executive.

Dr. Costakis is passionate about helping people, especially those with disabilities.  Accordingly, her career has focused on nonprofit human services organizations, in which employees need to engage in “emotional labor” — the extra effort required to present positive emotions despite difficult circumstances. In her dissertation research, Dr. Costakis was able to demonstrate a relationship between emotional labor and job satisfaction and burnout, and a relationship between burnout and turnover intention.  Based on her results, she developed recommendations to help nonprofits recognize the implications of emotional labor and develop approaches to reduce burnout and turnover intentions.

According to Dr. Costakis, “The DBA program changed my life and the way I think. While enrolled in the program, I was promoted multiple times. I started as a mid-level manager and ultimately achieved an executive-level position. I am now shifting my career into academia and have obtained a full-time faculty position with the prestigious SUNY New Paltz.”

In summing up her DBA experience, Dr. Costakis emphasized its personal and professional impact and the profound bonds she established with fellow students and faculty.

Dr. Edward Soto

Similarly, Dr. Edward Soto has found the DBA journey to be rewarding, despite the challenges of being on another continent!

When Dr. Soto started working for Bayer in Pittsburgh, he couldn’t have imagined that his financial skills would take him to corporate headquarters in Germany, but that’s what happened. Fortunately, he was open to differences in languages, food and culture, and embraced the opportunity. Dr. Soto credits his cultural dexterity with growing up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood and spending his childhood summers
with relatives in Puerto Rico. Enjoying the multinational experience, Dr. Soto transitioned to Covestro, a spin-off company, and moved on to lead the company’s global risk management process.

Dr. Soto noticed that many of his German colleagues held doctoral degrees. Earning a doctoral degree would boost his career, he figured, but his busy travel schedule seemed to make this an impossible dream. Dr. Soto discovered WilmU’s fully online DBA program and enrolled.  It was a challenge to juggle his many commitments, but disciplined time management led to his success.

Dr. Soto particularly appreciated that the program helped him think outside of box. “Before I started the DBA program I was a bit dismissive about whether theory could be useful for the real world,” he says.“However, I’ve come to learn that the magic is how one takes pieces of the theory, learns from them, and then applies them in a way that makes practical sense.”

I’ve come to learn that the magic is how one takes pieces of the theory, learns from them, and then applies them in a way that makes practical sense.”

He looks forward to using his enhanced skills and insights in his new position as vice president, head of internal accounting for Corporate Risk Management and Internal Controls at Covestro.

The DBA program’s impact on alumni careers has been substantial. Equally impressive are the contributions graduates are making to their communities. Alumni feedback indicated that nearly half have significant volunteer commitments that include serving on nonprofit boards, establishing nonprofit organizations and mentoring students. 

Dr. Purnsley’s concern for helping his community guided his doctoral research.

DBA grad Dr. Jamar Purnsley is passionate about helping people and making a difference, a commitment evidenced not only in volunteer activities but also in his dissertation research and choice of a public service career. He was promoted recently to assistant chief of statewide court processing services in the New Jersey Superior Court Clerk’s office. 

Dr. Purnsley’s concern for helping his community guided his doctoral research, for which he conducted an economic development analysis for the township of Willingboro, New Jersey. He collected data from a wide range of stakeholders to determine what types of business the community wanted and was prepared to support. Willingboro’s mayor and city council were fully supportive of the study and have subsequently begun implementing the recommendations, including outreach programs to increase interaction between business and community, campaigns to connect young people to companies, and matching vacancies to community priorities.

As part of his commitment to making the world a better place, Dr. Purnsley established the Extraordinary Hearts Achievement Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting advocacy and community service. A critical organizational value is mentoring high school students concerning business skills, leadership, project management and community service. The foundation also responds to the community in times of urgent need. 

The devastation in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey deeply touched Dr. Purnsley. Under his leadership, the foundation launched “Packabox Challenge for Houston,” a social media campaign. Individuals and organizations were challenged to pack boxes of food, water, toiletries, and clothing to be distributed by Houston’s Saltmine Ministries. This highly successful campaign rendered two 10×10 storage units, and its impact was so powerful, says Dr. Purnsley, that “we were able to bless over 350 people who had been hit hard by the hurricane.”

The devastation in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey deeply touched Dr. Purnsley. Under his leadership, the foundation launched “Packabox Challenge for Houston.”

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