First Adams State MBA cohort graduates


Article by Linda Relyea

The first Adams State College Master of Business Administration graduating class celebrated with hugs, smiles, sighs of relief, and happy spouses, at the Blue Foxx Restaurant the evening before the commencement ceremony.

The two-year program created tight bonds among the graduate students and, although sacrifices were made, the end result brought its own rewards. Nobody knows this better than Jessica Perez, who recently accepted a promotion to Chief Financial Officer for SLV Behavioral Health Group (Mental Health, Prevention and Recovery Services, and Community Corrections).

Adams State graduated its first MBA class in May 2011. The program includes four emphases: health administration, public administration, accounting, and leadership and is offered online except for two-days on campus at the start of each cohort.

Perez saw Adams State developing an MBA as "a sign," and enrolled in the first cohort. The decision greatly affected her life and her family's. She had just started a full-time position with SLV Behavioral Health Group and her youngest daughter, Sophia, was only seven-months-old. "I could not have done it without Joseph (her husband) and Nina and Mia (her two older daughters)."

Joseph, who owns a custom harvesting business, said: "It was a sacrifice, but it was worth it." After work and dinner, prepared by her family, Perez would disappear into her office for hours plus spend additional time on weekends completing coursework. "Our daughters really stepped up and helped," Joseph said.

Perez often addresses the new MBA cohorts and even tutors students, "I tell them, 'if I did it, just about anyone can. Adams State wants you to succeed, they are behind you.'" She credits Liz Thomas, assistant professor of marketing and MBA director, with providing support and encouragement. "The School of Business, from the beginning, wanted our MBA students to succeed," Thomas said.

Although the professors were supportive, Perez said the students "didn't get away with too much," and believes completing the program increased her self-confidence and inspired others. She said a Mental Health board member recently started the MBA program. "I am really excited to represent Hispanic women succeeding in the corporate world. I owe my education to Adams State." Perez also received her undergraduate degree from Adams State in 1999. Losing out on family time was the hardest for Perez but she believes she inspired her daughters. With relief and a sense of accomplishment, an emotional Perez turned in her last paper and "cried for two hours." For two years, she and the other students challenged one another, asked questions, offered advice, worked through disagreements and completed group assignments. "We are all close," Perez said. "We are the only ones who know what we have been through."

The first Adams State Master of Business Administration includes Joelle Boos-Medina, Beneranda Montano Chacon, Robert Chavez, Kevin Daniel, Kristina Daniel, Segundo Diaz, Jessica Espinoza-Perez, Bruno Ramos Muniz Falcao, Jerry Gibson, Lonnie Gillespie, Charlotte Gomez, Bernadine Espinoza Hostetter, Stephanie Klecker, Jocelyn Lopez-Florez, Lisa Lucero, Karen McKee, Maggie Munoz, Judy Phillips, Natalie Rogers, James Skelly II, Angela Velasquez, Nakayla Werner, Leslie Widger, and Timothy Widmer.

School of Business Chair Dr. Kurt Keiser, said Senior Vice President Michael Mumper provided key support. "No exaggeration, if it wasn't for Michael, we simply would not have been able to develop and offer the MBA program. He was critical in the MBA's development." Keiser said he is proud of the entire School of Business faculty and staff for making the MBA Program a success.

For more information on the MBA Program, contact Liz Thomas at or 719-587-7477.