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Bellevue University's DBA Program: Where Dreams and Leadership Take Flight

Katie Maguire

Bellevue University forwards the dreams of anyone wanting to pursue their education, no matter what degrees one has attained or what stage of life they are in.

Take Katie Maguire, for instance. She has received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Bellevue University and is close to completing a third a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA).

She is also a wife and mother of four.

Bellevue University has been there for her most of the way, meeting the challenges of a stay-at-home mom turned professional, through the flexibility of online course programs. Now Maguire is closing in on realizing yet another dream of hers receiving her doctorate.

“I’m hoping to open more doors for myself. The ability to learn and grow, to me, is huge. It’s been such a blessing to have a higher education opportunity online through Bellevue University,” Maguire said.

Today, Katie works for the Nebraska Department of Transportation in Lincoln, Neb., Aeronautics Division, as an Accountant II. She works with federal grants for airports, working as a liaison between the Federal Aviation Administration and the 80-plus airfields across Nebraska. It’s a job that a decade ago she couldn’t imagine herself holding. But with the help of Bellevue University’s online degree programs, she does.

Maguire knows that completion of a doctoral program will give her career even more of a lift. In deciding to pursue her DBA from Bellevue University, she said, “I’ve grown to love Bellevue University. I love my professors, the programs, and the flexibility just everything about it. My experience has been great.”

Bellevue University's DBA is a unique offering, much different from similar offerings of other universities. While most doctoral programs prepare the student for a career in academia, Bellevue University’s DBA program prepares executive-level students for meeting the complex challenges of modern business. The program centers on practitioners of business rather than teachers of it.

Traditional doctoral programs require a written dissertation on a particular topic. Bellevue University takes a more real-world approach, requiring DBA students complete a research project within the realm of their goals and interests in business.

Similarities do exist, however. Some traditional dissertation structures and methodologies are in place, but students begin their research projects shortly after enrolling in the three-year DBA program rather than writing a dissertation after coursework completion. This approach enables students to think in a forward manner, gain hands-on expertise, and prepare them for success at the highest levels of business.

“Students emerge as experts on their topic and as thought leaders in their industry,” Dr. Julia Cronin-Gilmore, DBA Program Director, said.   

Maguire's research project focuses on inclusion for people with autism spectrum disorder within the workforce. She is currently working with the Autism Center of Nebraska, interviewing participants within their Connections program, along with their employers.  Through this, she is discovering what supports and accommodations can be implemented within organizations to ensure successful and lasting employment for these employees.

"What the Connections program does is help people with autism spectrum disorder to gain lasting employment.  The program teaches things like social skills, resume writing skills, and job specific skills. It also provides participants with continued support throughout their employment while also providing support to participant employers," Maguire said.  "I'm interested in finding out what is working for them, and even what is not working. This data will help all businesses to implement similar programs within their own organizations.”  

Ultimately, her hope is that this will open more doors for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

This topic hits home for her, as one of her children is on the spectrum. She feels fortunate she can put a personal stake into her research project, enabling others with autism spectrum disorder a greater opportunity for inclusion in today's business world. This project opened her eyes to the struggle these individuals face.  Her hope is to bring this awareness to businesses everywhere.

“The advanced knowledge and research skills I have gained in the DBA program will allow me to make meaningful contributions both professionally and personally,” Maguire said. “I am excited to take my experience and share it with others. My hope is that my research will aid in inclusive work environments where everyone succeeds.”