Interview with AMU Alumna, Arinola Gabrielle Awosika
The following profile is the sixth in a series of student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.
Job title: Freelance Global Business Consultant and heart health advocate
Degree earned: Master of Business Administration, 2013, American Military University
As a nod to Heart Health Month in 2016, we interviewed a student who battled heart disease and won. After a successful surgery for heart disease, Arinola decided to give back to her community by becoming a community speaker, educator and healthy lifestyle advocate. She is also a member of the WomenHeart Organization, the only national coalition that helps women with heart disease.
What have you been up to since earning your degree at AMU?
Since earning my degree, I worked on writing a couple of books about my heart health journey, and in collaboration with some friends in the medical profession here in the U.S. and in Nigeria, we’ve set up nonprofit foundations for women’s heart health. I’ve also been called to help set up and promote a federal credit union for Africans here in the U.S., called African Bridge FCU. It is expected to start operations before the end of this year.
What led you to choose a MBA with us? Was it based on passion or a specific career goal?
Education is a priority in my family and I chose AMU for two reasons. First was my love for veterans. Because I couldn’t be one of them because of obvious physical reasons, I decided to attend a school that would allow me to interact with them and have a lifelong link to them through my school, American Military University (AMU). I get asked all the time how I was admitted into the school when I am not a veteran, and I always tell them it’s the same way you get into Yale or Harvard. You apply, meet all the requirements and you’re in.
My second reason was that I was making a career change at that time. I needed the master’s degree for certain jobs and positions that I had my eye on.
Tell us about your position at your employer.
Right now, I freelance in global business development. As I mentioned, in collaboration with some friends in the medical profession here in the U.S. and in Nigeria, I’ve set up a nonprofit foundation for women’s heart health for women in Nigeria to tap into and a federal credit union called African Bridge FCU which I am fully involved in, is about to open its doors to millions of its members across the United States.
Is there anything from your degree at AMU that you apply in your current career?
I gained a lot of knowledge while at AMU and I am applying as much of it as I can, considering the fact that I did not take any of the nonprofit courses at all. I apply all that I have learned to what I needed to do. Because I do a lot of cross-cultural discussions, my cross-cultural management class really came in handy.
Is there a particular class or professor that stood out?
My cross-cultural management class embodied all that I learned at AMU. Professor Enid Naranjo from the Legal and Ethical Issues in Management class really stood out to me.
How did your studies at AMU prepare you for your success in your career?
Because all of my classes were about management, organizational development and leadership, it made it easy for me to apply the concepts learned in class to everything that I do. Whether it is for the federal credit union or the foundations I support, my degree is applicable to almost everything in my current career.
What are two key pieces of advice you would pass on to someone new to online education?
First, they should be determined to enjoy their classes and Students should decide on the number of hours that they can allocate to each class per week. Know your limits. They should get assignments done way ahead of time to avoid getting overwhelmed close to due dates. They should not be afraid to ask for help from their professors or classmates. They should keep Google and YouTube very handy for research on all topics, too. They should try to be as original as they can be and avoid plagiarism.
What is your favorite thing about online learning?
My favorite things about online learning are its flexibility, convenience, networking and collaborative capabilities, as well as the fact that it allows me to learn at my own pace.
Why is heart health awareness important to you?
Heart health advocacy and awareness is very important to me because I am a heart disease survivor. I had to put my MBA degree on hold for over a year during and after my surgery. Thank God for a school like AMU that understands that their students are human and go through various life challenges. AMU worked with me and I was able to get back to class once I was medically cleared.
See more of Gabby’s story in the video below.
Can you tell us about your volunteer work with WomenHeart Organization?
Each year, WomenHeart Organization sends some carefully chosen volunteer heart disease survivors to the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for a WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium. Here they receive training as public speakers and educators for women’s heart health matters, and they learn how to set up support groups everywhere they are needed all over the country.
I was on the 2012 team and it has been a wonderful experience since then. I share my heart story and speak on health issues at health and wellness fairs, health services groups, and programs. I give educational presentations. The support groups that are created provide good listening ears, helping hands, education, awareness and preventative educational materials. We help people to live a healthy life and prevent another heart episode from happening to them.
What do you like to do in your free time?
As a Christian, I study my Bible. I like to work on my books about my heart journey and on women’s heart health in general. I also work on the foundations that I am setting up for women who are heart disease survivors, living in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
Online education isn’t a one size fits all, but it’s a great opportunity for those looking to increase their knowledge in current areas of expertise, or to look at new avenues for growth. Our student profile series will give a face and personality to our dedicated online learners at the university. Interested in learning more about your online education options? Explore our schools and programs at AMU.