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Tula Sayalkham

Why did you decide to go to business school?
When I came to the U.S. from Mongolia fifteen years ago, I was a single mother and my daughter was very young. I started working in the insurance field. I have an undergraduate degree from Russia, but I dreamed of getting an American degree.

When my daughter started looking at colleges, my own dream of a degree came back. I received a post card from Rutgers, inviting me to attend an information session. It was only 10 minutes from my place. So I went and listened to how the classes were structured and how the program was run. My daughter would be leaving for college, so I applied to Rutgers School of Business. The next thing you know, I got in, and the rest is history.

What was it like going back to school?
I started the PMBA program while my daughter was in her last year of high school. It felt different going to school mid career, when you’re mature. You approach studying from a different angle. You are eager to learn, not just to pass the exam and get a degree. My approach was to apply my learning to my work.

What did you hope to achieve by getting the PMBA degree?
I wanted to grow and reach my full potential in my work, and bring the same feeling of value to my clients.

How were you able to apply what you learned at Rutgers to your work?
I work in voluntary benefits and executive benefits at Mercer, which is a health and benefits firm. I work with HR staff and bring solutions to clients. In our Marketing class, I learned how to use data to make decisions holistically. The Project Management class taught me how to strategically plan things around the workflow.

Will you stay in touch with classmates?
We created such a great relationships within the cohort, and we would often get together and meet to do homework. It was great, because we were all going through the same thing. I plan to stay in touch with classmates, and we have a What’sApp group list to make that happen.

What did you sacrifice to get this degree?
Weekends. I also gave up watching TV or reading books not related to the MBA program. Sometimes it was hard, but if you work smart and manage your time, it is a manageable program.

Are you happy you went to Rutgers School of Business – Camden?
I feel proud that I went to Rutgers. I proudly wear all my Rutgers gear and get excited when I see others wearing it. You hear, “Oh, you went to Rutgers?” and then a conversation starts.

Any advice for others who are considering the PMBA program at Rutgers?
I would encourage them to go. I would tell them, “You can do it.” It’s very manageable and you have great faculty members and cohorts who will help you along the way. At the beginning, the Dean said the program will change the way you think. It happened to me. Knowledge changes the way you think.

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