KOKOMO, Ind. — Megan Mathews has a passion for being a role model.
For the last three years, she has served as a mentor for a Madison-Grant High School student, while also balancing a busy work schedule and classes to earn her Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Indiana University Kokomo.
"Our world needs a lot more mentors," Mathews said. "This is life-changing work for both of us. I'm keeping my student on track to go to college for free, through the 21st Century Scholars Program, which is a huge benefit to her. Working with her also is good for me, because it gives me a break from work and school."
Mathews, 29, from Converse, is also demonstrating the value of a job completed well, as she will be among the 547 students earning degrees at IU Kokomo's Commencement on Tuesday, May 7.
Gloria Preece, M.B.A. program director, said Mathews has been "an exceptional student," and received the 2013 School of Business Outstanding Student Award.
"Megan demonstrated superior leadership skills as our M.B.A. association president, giving both her time and dedication," Preece said. "She is highly regarded as an exceptional student by all of the business faculty, and her academic performance has been stellar."
When Mathews decided to earn her master's degree, IU Kokomo was her only choice because she already knew from her undergraduate experience she would learn from excellent faculty.
"The professors get to know you on a first-name basis," she said. "I had such a positive experience, and I knew that would continue in graduate school. You can't beat the value of an IU M.B.A. close to home, and I can't say enough about the quality of the faculty and instruction."
Mathews earned her bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from IU Kokomo in 2007.
"I knew I wanted to come back at some point," Mathews said. "Sometimes it's hard to balance everything, but it is doable. The satisfaction you have after going through the program can really make a person proud. It's a great investment in yourself and your career."
Her hard work has already paid off in a promotion with McClure Oil Corp. in Marion, where she has worked five years.
"I am already starting to see the benefits of higher education, even before I complete my degree," she said.
Going to school while working made the learning experience more enriching, she said.
"I found my classmates had some interesting insights, based on their work experience, and I could apply my work experience to what I was learning as well," she said. "Those factors, along with the outstanding faculty, brought everything together. It's hard to put a value on the relationships I've built."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.