The Richmond MBA welcomed 42 new students in 2015, the largest incoming class since 2009.  The cohort includes two newly married couples – Robert and Cassidy Wagner and Derek and Victoria Vaughn – who participated in August’s Opening Residency.

The Wagners moved to Richmond two years ago, shortly after Robert’s service in the United States Marine Corps ended and he accepted a position at Capital One. He now serves as a senior operations analyst for fraud and dispute operations there.  A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Robert was commissioned in 2009 and deployed for Afghanistan in 2011.

He met Cassidy, who was completing a master’s degree in occupational therapy at Shenandoah University, while serving as a Marine. She revealed, “My graduation coincided with his transition out of the military, so we moved to Richmond together shortly thereafter.” She is an occupational therapist for Grafton Integrated Health Network. 

The Vaughns came to Richmond for their careers as well. Victoria, an internal auditor at Altria, shared, “I worked in D.C. as an accountant for a year and decided to move to Richmond for the shorter commute time and improved work-life balance.” Derek, a financial analyst at Altria, explained, “We met shortly after she came to work for the company. Following our wedding this past May, we realized with the planning behind us, we’d have a lot more free time, so we decided it would be a great chance to start an M.B.A. program.”

She added, “It was an opportunity to start a new adventure together.”

After Opening Residency and a month of classes, the Vaughns shared some initial impressions. “I’ve really enjoyed sharing this experience with my wife. A part-time M.B.A. program is a big time commitment, so completing it with her has kept our schedules in line in a great way,” Derek said.

Victoria added, “I’m glad we chose to do the program together. It’s challenging when we’re both busy the same days, but it’s been wonderful to be able to go through the same curriculum simultaneously. The most important thing for a couple doing a graduate program together is to have the same overarching goals and a non-competitive mindset. As a result, we’re able to support each other when things become difficult, and I’m thankful for that.”

The Wagners also discussed the positive aspects of simultaneous study.  Cassidy said, “The biggest benefit for us has also been this shared experience. I always have someone to study with who can clarify any questions I have about the material. From a logistics standpoint, the fact we’re on the same schedule is both convenient and hectic. One piece of advice is to remember that you’ll probably have a different learning style than your spouse, so don’t expect to spend the same amount of time on every assignment.”

Robert added, “Being in the program with Cassidy has been fun and exciting, and I’m happy to say we’ve figured out how to successfully share a textbook. Since my passion for college football typically squashes any plans I have for studying on Saturdays, she gets the books those days, and we trade off throughout the week.”

Looking to the future, the couples explained what they hope to gain from The Richmond MBA.

“As a Marine my role was very leadership-focused, but at Capital One it’s very analytical and centers on individual effort. The Richmond MBA will help me merge these experiences and teach me to more critically analyze business decisions,” Robert revealed.

Cassidy added, “The program is helping me frame my thinking in terms of systems, and this top-down mindset is drastically different from the bottom-up approach common in my science background. I’m learning to be a better manager and team member, and I look forward to blending these new skills with my health background so as to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of a health care delivery system.”

In the same vein, Derek looks forward to a broadened business perspective that will expand his potential career opportunities going forward, and Victoria is "excited to be able to expand my knowledge in business areas I’d learned in introductory undergraduate business courses. This growth will translate to more flexibility as we both develop in our careers."