Rebecca Rizkalla had been planning on a career as a physical therapist, like her mother. The one-time psychology major shifted gears slightly her senior year at Catholic University, to a B.S. in psychological and brain sciences, though still with the same profession in mind, just like her twin sister and roommate, Rachelle.
To say that everything changed her final semester at Catholic, when Rebecca learned about the Master of Science in Business Analysis (M.S.B.A.), would be an understatement. The one-year program, which she discovered while noodling around on the Catholic University website, is designed to give an ethical business foundation to non-business majors, which Rebecca emphatically was.
“I thought being a psych major would be a disadvantage when coming into business because there’s so much I didn’t know of the fundamentals,” said Rebecca, who took a break from her evening study routine to talk about the seismic shift in her academic and life plans. “But it plays a huge part. I need to understand clients and behavior. So incorporating that into business fundamentals is a huge asset for me.”
She now sees possibilities she had never dreamed of — a career in sales, maybe, or opening and managing her own physical therapy clinic. As the bubbly 22-year-old will tell you, the M.S.B.A. program has given her not only the skills to do just that but, more importantly, the confidence.
A key element of the M.S.B.A. program is the weekly company visits that expose students to the real world of business, as well as job opportunities. As a result of one of those visits, Rebecca scored a sales internship with Tempus, a corporate currency exchange in downtown Washington.
She and four classmates comprise a field study team that is analyzing a series of problems for Tempus, reporting deliverables each month to help the company meet its business objectives — for instance, determining how to target the right industries and markets to help the company grow.
Rebecca is the team leader. “Never in a million years would I think that I’d have this confidence in the business world,” she said. “I never saw myself being a part of it.”
She attributes the growth she’s experienced since the fall to supportive professors, “who dedicate their time to their students,” she said.
But with students like Rebecca, said Stewart McHie, M.S.B.A. program director and marketing lecturer, that’s easy.
“It’s always so satisfying when a student comes to us because they don’t really know what career to pursue, and they try something and they succeed at it,” said McHie, who has watched Rebecca blossom. “That’s the reason we do this.”
For Rebecca, the M.S.B.A. program has been revelatory. “It’s opened my eyes to a bunch of different opportunities,” she said. “It’s a really big transition period for me.”