Husband and Wife Team Pursue Dream of Earning BBA and MBA Degrees

Husband and wife, Esteban Blas and Brenda Aparicio, inspired each other to pursue their higher education dreams….together. First-generation college students, they both transferred from Glendale Community College (GCC) and are enrolled in Woodbury Business School’s BBA-MBA Accelerated Program, designed for students to earn their Bachelor of Business Administration in Management (BBA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in just four years.

Parents to a three-year-old son, the couple was motivated to earn their degrees to improve their family’s livelihood and set an example for their toddler, Elijah. They anticipate earning their bachelor’s degrees in 2021, followed by their MBA degrees in 2022. In the following interview, Brenda and Esteban share their inspirational story, expressing it is never too late to pursue your dreams.

Blas Family Photo
Tell us a bit about yourselves.

Brenda: I’m a middle child, born and raised in Sun Valley, CA, to parents who immigrated from Jerez Zacatecas, Mexico. When I first started looking into going to college, as a first-generation student, I was very unfamiliar with the process. I attended many college workshops to gain a better understanding of how things worked and decided to attend Glendale Community College (GCC) part-time to ease the transition from high school, while I also worked as a manager at a retail store.

When I met my future husband, Esteban, I encouraged him to further his education to help provide a better future for our family, especially for our son, Elijah. We both moved forward with earning our Associate in Business Administration degrees from GCC in 2019, and transferred to Woodbury in 2020, where we are now on our path to earning our Bachelor’s in Business Management, and then will pursue our MBA degrees.

Esteban: I was born in Torrance and raised in North Hollywood, CA. I’m the youngest of four children and the first one to earn an associate degree. Becoming a father made me realized how important it was to earn a degree, not only for myself but for the future of my family. After taking a 10-year hiatus from school to work, I decided to return back to college. This led to fulfilling my dream of attending Woodbury. After successfully completing my first semester,  and finding great guidance from mentors, I entered my second semester with an abundance of confidence and accomplished another milestone by making the Dean’s List.

Tell us about your transfer experience and what brought you to Woodbury?

Brenda: I first started my college career at the community level to ease my transition from high school. GCC was a great campus, full of excellent faculty and staff who helped make my time there amazing and unforgettable.

On my way to GCC, I would regularly drive by Woodbury and wonder what it had to offer. My guidance counselor at GCC recommended I research Woodbury and go on a campus tour. When I did, I completely fell in love with the campus and the people.

Esteban: Originally what brought me to Woodbury was its location. I wanted to find a transfer university that was not too far away from home. I didn’t want to have a long commute, and moving was not an option, as we needed our family close by to babysit our three-year-old son while we attended school. My GCC counselor encouraged me to visit the Woodbury campus. After attending an open house event and a campus tour, I felt that Woodbury was the perfect fit for me and my family. Its energetic and positive atmosphere and true support for student success could be felt from the moment I drove through the main entrance to the time I met with faculty and staff.

What stands out about Woodbury’s BBA-MBA Accelerated program? 

Brenda: I first heard about Woodbury’s BBA-MBA accelerated program during an open house event. What stood out about the program was how fast you could earn your degree. Another critical draw was that Woodbury is one of the 5% of business schools that is AACSB accredited, which is considered the best and most widely recognized accreditation in the business world.

Esteban:  I was impressed by all of Woodbury Business School’s accreditations, including  AACSB, ACBSP, and WSCUC. A year ago, I did not know what the AACSB accreditation meant, and how important it was to get a degree from an AACBS accredited school. For instance, if an opportunity presents itself with a firm doing business overseas in the future, having an AACSB accredited degree will be essential.

What experiences at Woodbury have been most meaningful/relevant to you thus far?

Brenda: It’s been amazing meeting all the wonderful professors and staff who truly care about my success in and outside of the classroom. At Woodbury, you create a tightknit community that will not only help you grow and succeed but will also lead to long-lasting friendships and networking opportunities.

I also really value all the events Woodbury hosts, such as the guest speaker series and networking events. At Woodbury, we not only learn from our professors, but also from our peers. Sharing our experiences with one another and having open discussions about relevant topics is extremely beneficial to my education.

Esteban: I’ve had several wonderful experiences, but thus far the most meaningful has been having the opportunity to meet the assortment of professors at Woodbury. I’ve taken classes with professors who have impressive track records, and in some cases, are still working business professionals. This is very helpful because the professors not only teach lessons from business resources but also share practice-based knowledge from their personal, practical, and relevant work experiences.

Tell us about your internship(s) or previous work/current experience if relevant. What were your responsibilities?

Brenda: My past work experiences are what led to my becoming a business major. I started working when I was 16 years old at a local retail store. My dedication and hard work landed me with a management position in operations, which I really enjoyed. I was in charge of all background operations of the store, such as all incoming freight, stock room inventory, and analyzing marking trends. The operations management position solidified my decision to earn a degree in business to allow me to grow in this field and have a more secure future.

Esteban: In the summer of my junior year in high school, I was hired by a local bank as a teller. By the age of 18, my hard work, dedication, and professionalism resulted in my becoming one of the youngest managers within this institute. After six years of working at two different financial institutions, I decided to make a career change into the retail industry. Within weeks of getting hired, my professionalism and leadership skills led to a managerial position. I used my communication and motivational skills to lead a team of 40+ individuals on a regular day and 80+ individuals during the holiday season. Currently, my line of work is in logistics (freight brokerage). My prior skills have helped me develop a respectable reputation within my industry. My experience at Woodbury has refined my leadership skills and provided the knowledge to see things through a different lens that focuses on ethics and sustainability.

Who, if anyone, at Woodbury stands out as a mentor?

Brenda: There are many people at Woodbury who stand out, but professors Svetlana Holt and  Jack Condon are two I would consider mentors. As my academic advisor, Dr. Holt has always made herself available to address my questions or concerns. I’ve also had the pleasure of being in a couple of her classes, which have been interesting and insightful. Professor Condon is very knowledgeable, and he goes above and beyond a professor’s responsibilities. He is always willing and ready to help, and if he doesn’t know the answer, he will find someone who can be of assistance.

Esteban: There are three individuals I’m honored to call my mentors; Svetlana Holt, Jack Condon, and Edward Rivas.

Dr. Holt has been an amazing mentor, professor, and guidance counselor. As a counselor, Dr. Holt’s advice and guidance are one of a kind. As a professor, her experiences, and approach has motivated, challenged, and encourage me.

Professor Condon was the first Woodbury professor I met at Woodbury’s open house. Since our first interaction, Professor Condon has always made himself available and approachable. His business and personal experiences, as well as his professionalism, are what stand out. He has been more than just a mentor; he’s been an inspiration.

Edward Rivas is a transition track learning specialist.Mr. Rivas understood my needs and desire to succeed at Woodbury, and he took on my challenges as if they were his own. His fearless approach to complicated circumstances is very admirable. There has never been a question or a situation that Mr. Rivas wasn’t willing to address.

What are your career goals/aspirations?

Brenda: One of my goals is to obtain my MBA and continue to build relationships along the way. I hope to explore the many partnerships and internship opportunities that Woodbury has to offer. My long term goal is to become a chief operating officer (COO) of an established company, and maybe even a professor at some point to teach others what I’ve been privileged to learn over the years.

Esteban: My career goals are evolving, but my main aspiration right now is to be a great role model for my son. This is one of the main reasons I decided to come back to school after a 10-year hiatus.  He may be too young to fully comprehend the concept of school, but I’m committed to leading by example and showing him the importance of getting a higher education.

What advice would you give to other students considering Woodbury’s Business School?

Brenda: I would encourage prospective students to do their research. I visited as many universities as possible and learned about their program offerings before making a decision. No other university offered a BBA-MBA Accelerated program. This program, along with the university’s small class sizes, sold me on Woodbury!

Esteban: I’d tell them to research, ask a lot of questions, and attend an open house. Woodbury has a lot to offer. Its small class sizes allow for more student-professor interaction. Its diverse faculty and students from many different cultures and backgrounds provide a one of a kind educational experience, and its networking opportunities are incomparable.

Anything else you’d like to share? 

Brenda: Woodbury is truly a diverse community and its campus community respects and embraces people from all walks of life. Having such a diverse community allows for great intellectual conversations and many learning opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.

As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and full-time student, I have many responsibilities, and creating the right balance is extremely important. Woodbury offers many resources to find that balance and has proven to be the best place for me to expand my knowledge to grow as an individual.

Esteban:  It’s never too late to pursue a degree. Although I attended college right out of high school, I didn’t accomplish my educational goals at first. At that time my mother was diagnosed with a rare case of stage three breast cancer. This created an emotional battle and a lack of focus, as I became the primary source of income for our family and shared caretaking responsibilities with my sister. As the years passed by, my mother thankfully won her battle with cancer, and I decided to give my educational dreams a second chance. I’ve since earned an associate degree,  made the Dean’s list at Woodbury, and I’m well on my way to earning my BBA, and shortly after, my MBA. I’m living testimony that it’s never too late.


Last Updated on September 8, 2020. 

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