MBA@UNC Graduate: Ana-Laura Diaz

Ana-Laura Diaz did not feel fully equipped for management when she was offered a new position as a supervising attorney at a new law firm. She considered getting an MBA to pick up what she lacked in business know-how, but had no intention of quitting her job as a practicing bankruptcy attorney near Fort Lauderdale to do so. Prior to getting her law degree, Ana-Laura, 31, had been a music major at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she learned a lot about playing the violin but little about managing people or budgets. So she looked for a quality program at a high-ranking business school — but it was important that the program offer her the flexibility to continue practicing law. “For me [enrolling in an online program] was a no brainer, instead of taking two years out of my life and not moving my career forward,” said Ana-Laura, who is engaged to a fellow attorney. When she discovered that UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School was planning to offer an online MBA program, Ana-Laura wanted in.

“It’s the only top-20 business school that provides this type of online degree without compromising the quality of education that you’re getting."

Ana-Laura had lingering doubts about the quality of the experience she would have through distance learning. But once classes started, Ana-Laura found the business school’s online aspect didn’t fit stereotypes, nor was it sub-par to her previous on-campus experiences. She noted she is taught by the same professors, does the same coursework, uses the same textbooks and takes the same tests as MBA students who are enrolled in the full-time program. And distance learning has not been distant for Ana-Laura. She has made some lifelong friendships and talks to some of her MBA@UNC classmates more than she did to fellow law school students when she was on campus at the University of Miami. She adds that her relationships with her MBA@UNC professors have also been more solid than any of the connections she had made with instructors in law school.

“Some online programs have the stigma of you’re not meeting anyone — that’s absolutely not true with this program."

Her in-person exchanges enhance her online experience, she says. During classes, she interacts with her professors and classmates in real time. She says she can tell if a student is in a coffee shop or if someone’s cat inserts itself into the video. “Everyone is on the front row," Ana-Laura says. The platform not only cuts down the feeling of distance between Florida and North Carolina but it also enables her to keep working and to apply what she picks up right away. As graduation day approaches in July of 2013, Ana-Laura is making plans to transition from law into management — and says she is open to all opportunities.

"I'm optimistic; the future is bright. The program has been wonderful. I feel like I've gained a skill set and built relationships upon which I can continue to grow."

Watch Ana-Laura Diaz's video