Graduate programs celebrate record number of graduates

By Samantha Calderon
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A group collaborates in ENVS560: Watershed Systems, a class required for the Applied Marine and Watershed Science program. Photo by Samantha Calderon.

CSUMB is a developing campus, and there are seven Graduate programs that students can earn a Master’s degree in. The number of Graduate degrees can serve as a vice or a virtue, as a student might not find the program of their dreams on this particular campus. However, having only seven Graduate programs makes the Master’s degree experience all that more special and personalized. This year, 272 Graduate students will be walking the line and completing their degrees, according to Hayley Azavedo, Administrative Assistant to the Provost.

The seven Graduate programs offered at CSUMB are: Environmental Science, Education, Business Administration, Instructional Science & Technology, Marine Science, Social Work and Physician Assistant. This is the largest graduating class for students earning their Master’s degree at CSUMB. Data provided by Sathyan Sunndaram, Research Analyst at CSUMB, shows that in 2015, 194 students graduated with a Master’s degree. In 2016, 185 students graduated with a Master’s degree. In 2017, 192 students graduated with a Master’s degree. Within the past five years, less than 200 students have graduated each year from a Graduate program at CSUMB; this is the year with the largest graduating class for those earning a Master’s degree.

Elizabeth Calderon, a graduating student in the Master of Education program, said, “The Master’s program differs from the Undergraduate program because you form a closer bond with professors and peers. The classes are smaller, and everyone gets to know one another on a personal level. For this reason, it is easier to communicate with professors.” Calderon currently teaches a kindergarten class in East Salinas, an opportunity she was offered by the end of her first year in the hands-on program. “Once I graduate, I intend to keep teaching. The Master’s in Education program has made me feel more prepared in the field of teaching. I also feel like I am more proactive in taking leadership roles at work,” said Calderon.

CSUMB aims to make its Master’s programs accessible. Dr. Nicolas Dahan, Director of the Master of Business Administration and a professor said, “CSUMB’s MBA program is fully online…It is geared toward working adults who appreciate not having to drive to campus and study whenever is convenient in their busy schedule. The program takes 24 months to complete, by going through a sequence of 11 courses one by one, as a cohort. It covers all aspects of business: from business communication, to accounting and finance, to marketing and innovation, to leadership and business strategy. We have 200 to 250 students in the program at any given time,” said Dahan. The average student in the program is 34 years old, proving it is never too late to pursue an education. “Only 35 percent of our students self-report as white/caucasian, so we have a very diverse student body, with Hispanics making up 17 percent of the total. We are graduating our largest amount of students ever this spring, with 88 graduates,” said Dahan.

When selecting a Graduate program, one does not have to go into a program related to their Bachelor’s degree. According to the website Best Master’s Degrees, some schools encourage students to apply to Graduate programs that vastly differ from their Undergraduate degree. This creates more well-rounded professionals.

Nikki Inglis, a graduating student from the Applied Marine and Watershed Science program used to be a Journalism student as an Undergraduate. “ I liked having the chance to integrate into the local research community by taking classes at Middlebury Institute of International Studies and Moss Landing Marine Labs. I loved working with a team of incredibly intelligent and driven grad students on real local projects that made a difference in the community. Personally, I have gotten a lot out of the program and it’s helped shape my path in life. For those interested in the graduate program, I would suggest asking yourself what you want your life after school to look like, what kind of work you want to do and what skills you want to develop,” said Inglis. “I’m excited to be continuing my education at the Doctoral level. I was accepted into a PhD program at North Carolina State University in Geospatial Analytics. I will be working as a research assistant in a lab that helps the National Park Service with GIS tools for fire management. I’m interested in interdisciplinary research that confronts environmental resource challenges with computational and analytical force,” said Inglis.

Martha Cobb, a Graduate student in the Master of Social Work program, said, “The teachers are well prepared to share their knowledge and experience with us students. What I intend to do after I graduate is to work with criminals. I want to understand the field…I do not want to work with kids because I get very affected by the challenges they present. I can’t deal with that, I’m not ready to go down that route.” Being a mother herself, Cobb cannot handle traumatizing stories involving children, and she would rather work with the elderly. “In your Master’s, you work at your own pace. Teachers work with you, but they leave it all up to you. If I don’t do assignments or show up to class, teachers aren’t gonna tell me anything. Your writing needs to be very polished, the teachers are really picky,” said Cobb. Cobb will be graduating next year.

Not everyone is meant for a Master’s degree, as they are costly and require intense study and hands-on experience. Some students may want to wait a few years to move onto Graduate school. Other students might not even consider pursuing a Master’s degree, and that is fine too. These are all personal choices.

Congratulations to the graduating Otters in the Master’s degree programs!

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