Career Acceleration with a Part-Time Flexible Education

Adrienne Streater, MBA ’14 first learned about the William & Mary Part-Time Evening MBA program while working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a nuclear engineer. The North Carolina native graduated from North Carolina State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and was recruited by the Department of Defense to work in a maintenance role on ships and submarines.

“I did that for about five years before I began looking at graduate school programs,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to get my master’s degree but did not necessarily want to get one in engineering management because I wanted to ensure that I had the opportunity to advance in many fields and not limit myself to a technical career. After looking at several options, I felt that an MBA from William & Mary would be the best route.”

Streater looked at the portfolio of MBA program options the Raymond A. Mason School of Business had to offer and ultimately decided the Part-Time Evening MBA program was the right fit for her. The program’s part-time format with evening classes complimented her work schedule and William & Mary’s satellite campus in Newport News was conveniently located close to her home and the shipyard.

“All those reasons combined with William & Mary’s reputation for academic excellence is how I knew that this was the right program for me,” she explained.

Immersion into a Flexible Academic Experience

Streater enrolled in the Part-Time Evening MBA program as part of the fall 2011 cohort and during that first semester, her father was diagnosed with cancer.

“The program’s flexibility was vital to my success,” she said. “Aside from working a full-time job where I traveled quite a bit, I needed additional flexibility in my schedule so I could go home to North Carolina on weekends or during the week to be with my dad and help my mom.”

After a hard-fought battle, Streater’s father passed away during her last semester of the Part-Time Evening MBA program in the spring of 2014. But she had the opportunity to share with him the adventures of her travels that she experienced as part of the Part-Time Evening MBA’s Global Immersion program, a study abroad opportunity that took her to Singapore and Indonesia over Spring Break in 2012 and again in 2013 to Greece and Italy.

“It was a great experience to be able to travel and learn about other countries from international business students. I met with really interesting people and made life-long connections with my classmates, some of whom I still keep in contact with today,” she said.

While she was enrolled in the Part-Time Evening MBA program, Streater transitioned into a new role as a Business Agent in the Business and Strategic Planning Office at the shipyard. The position allowed her to apply in real-time the skills and knowledge she received from her William & Mary education.

“My time at William & Mary enhanced my critical thinking skills which is very important for the Department of Defense as well as my ability to multitask and be aware of time management,” she said. “I oftentimes find myself working on multiple projects at the same time in addition to communicating with executives in leadership positions. The Part-Time Evening MBA program gave me the confidence to accomplish all of these things.”

Mentorship & Alumni of Color Network

After Streater completed the Part-Time Evening MBA program in 2014, she remained in the role of Business Agent until March 2020 when she transitioned to a new position with Naval Information Forces as a Program Analyst.

“I’m doing something new and different for the U.S. Navy,” she said. “And while entrepreneurship is a long-term goal of mine, I am enjoying the position I am in now because I have room to mentor those who come after me and I can help to guide their careers. I grew up in a rural area where I did not have access to a lot of things my peers had access to, so I want to help others who come from rural areas to have equal opportunity for learning, development, and understanding various STEM related fields.”

Streater’s mentorship abilities also extend back to the Mason School as a Leadership Council member of the recently formed Mason Alumni of Color Network (AoCN). Her involvement began in 2019 when she attended the MBA Alumni Weekend where she was introduced to Montique Warren, MBA ’14.

Though they were enrolled in two different MBA programs at the Mason School, they had a shared vision along with several other alumni who make up the Leadership Council, to bring a networking group for students and graduates of color to the business school.

“After speaking with Montique, I knew that I wanted to be a part of something that would bring about a positive change in the business school,” she said. “They were looking to create a network of important individuals who could build relationships, and uplift and promote each other as far as business development, career enhancement, and diversity in community. I knew I could bring a unique perspective to that organization.”

Thus far, Streater has helped to promote a speaker series with former NFL pro-football player Ken Harvey which included candid advice on dealing with adversity and how to persevere. She says she’s also looking forward to upcoming engagement opportunities like the ongoing book club sponsored by the AoCN and virtual networking events as a way to meet other Mason School alumni of color and promote mentorship for those seeking advice.

“I always advise people to have a mentor,” she explained. “I have several mentors both in my field and outside of my field. Some are well-known and some are not well-known professionals. I think it’s important for all alumni, whether you are of color or not, to stay in touch with mentors so you can ask questions and get feedback from someone who has been where you are or understands where you come from and want to go.”