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Meet two “repeater” alumni

Alumni have been coming back to Bellevue University in substantial numbers since 1992, when the initial 41 master's degree graduates received their diplomas, including 22 who had previously earned bachelor’s degrees here.

Chatting with two winter MBA "repeater" graduates during the University’s commencement-eve Open House in January provided insights into what motivated them to return to the University for a second degree. 

Sunil Acharya, Omaha, MBA was on hold for 13 years

Omahan Sunil Acharya, a native of Kathmandu, Nepal, approached me and introduced himself at the Open House. He reminded me that he and several other young Nepali students had been on my home two decades ago for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. That was in 1992, when he was a new undergraduate student taking English as a Second Language courses and pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration degree at the University, which he completed in 1997.

After graduating, he got a job and continued living and working in the Omaha area. He currently is a registrations coordinator for Alegent Health, a regional healthcare provider.

“I always wanted to continue my education in order to be more knowledgeable and move up the ladder into management,” Acharya said. But marriage, family and other obligations put those plans on hold for 13 years.

In 2009 he enrolled in Bellevue University’s MBA program, with double concentrations in Marketing and International Management. After completing his coursework through a blend of classroom and online classes, he decided to attend commencement and receive his degree in person for family reasons. “I’m doing it for my eight-year-old son, Shan. He’s excited and has been telling everyone, ‘My Dad graduates tomorrow!’” Acharya said.

Karen Widmar, Green Bay, sought MBA to be more well-rounded

Karen S. Widmar of Green Bay, Wisconsin, completed a B.S. in Marketing Management degree online from Bellevue University in 2009. Widmar previously owned a successful marketing communications firm in Michigan, which she sold in order to focus on teaching, consulting and coaching.

She pursued an MBA degree at Bellevue University “because I wanted to be more well-rounded.” She added a concentration in Executive Coaching, which fit well in working with other people, coaching, consulting, and teaching. She is a Marketing Instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

Widmar said the MBA has broadened her career path and opened new possibilities as a full-time teacher with experience and expertise as a marketing consultant and executive coach. “Other things pop up with marketing clients, and you have a chance to do new things. For example, a client asked for help with a presentation, and I enjoyed the experience,” she said.

Taking online classes from Bellevue University also helped her to be a better online instructor for her own students. “Bellevue University gets the online environment, and you can tell that the teachers are dedicated,” she said. “And earning a degree online teaches new skills. You have to be disciplined to get your assignments done, and you have to find a proctor for your exams. Now that I teach online at Northeast, I know what it takes and what it’s like for students and can relate to them better, because I know it’s not that easy.”

Bellevue College became Bellevue University in 1994, a reflection of three decades of growth in enrollment, program majors and delivery formats, campus size, the number of buildings, and increased impact in the Omaha area and well beyond. But probably the biggest single factor impacting the institutional Board of Directors' name-change decision was the introduction of graduate-level degree programs.

Today there are more than 31,000 Bellevue University alumni worldwide, and about 2,000 of the University's 7,000 master's degree graduates (nearly 30%) are "repeater" alumni who chose to continue their education here.