I’m willing to bet that I am one of few cradle Catholics without the typical, classic stories of ‘old Sister Margaret teaching math’ or ‘my school uniform.’ For a variety of good reasons, my parents chose to send me to public school, so I had never stepped foot in a Catholic school until beginning the MSBA program this year at The Catholic University of America. After just one semester in the MSBA program at CUA, I’ve realized how much I love going to a Catholic school. In fact, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned so far is the value of a truly Catholic education.
From kindergarten to college, I totaled 17 years in public school, followed quickly by serving in the US Army for four years Needless to say, the past 21 years have not always been the most encouraging settings for practicing or developing my Catholic faith. When I arrived at CUA, I knew I was finally at home when I saw that Mass was part of the orientation schedule. As I walked out of Mass with my classmates on the second day of orientation, it was clear I had made the right choice to attend this program. However, the integration of the Catholic faith didn’t end with orientation. As an MSBA cohort we had another special experience later in the semester when one of our professors arranged for Mass to be said prior to our cohort’s participation in a Thanksgiving service project. It was really moving to attend mass with 15 classmates - one classmate serving as lector, and a professor as the Eucharistic Minister. These opportunities have reinforced, for me that the integration of faith into everyday business practice is what makes an MSBA graduate distinguishable from the rest of the “MBA” pack – that we are aiming to serve a higher purpose through our vocation to business.
When I made the decision to leave the Army I researched a plethora of MBA and master’s programs and I quickly made the realization that I could study business anywhere. Nearly every university, community college, and online school offers some sort of MBA that gives you a “leg up.” What attracted me to CUA was that the Busch School of Business had a different offering.
At CUA, business students learn how to integrate faith and business in all that they do. It’s refreshing to learn from our professors that morality and virtue shouldn’t be checked at the door on the way into the workplace – businesses actually wind up being more successful when virtue has a prominent place in an organization. In all MSBA classes, business ethics is baked into the discussion and lessons. Whether we’re reviewing marketing plans in light of Catholic Social Teaching or the moral responsibility of companies to shareholders, I can share my faith while studying business.
To give an idea of how faith is incorporated into our business education, I’ll share the most exciting class of the entire semester, in my opinion. In our course, “Managing the Enterprise” we devoted an entire class period to evaluating Pope Francis’ management techniques. The spirited discussion covered the bevy of tough decisions facing Pope Francis from reforming the Vatican Bank and Curia, leadership lessons from the priest abuse scandal, and even how to increase vocations to the Priesthood. Catholic and non-Catholic students alike were highly engaged with well-researched opinions for over two and a half hours.
The MSBA program is full of practical lessons - from understanding balance sheets to interpreting Monte Carlo simulations - but I’m thankful to be learning business at a distinctly Catholic school. The Catholic University of America is America’s only pontifical university, so in essence, I’m studying at the Pope’s Business school in America. This has been an incredibly enlightening and enjoyable experience, and I can finally tell stories of my time as a Catholic school student, just without a plaid uniform.
Blog post by Jeff Swierzbinski, PMP