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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY FEATURE STORY
By Kaitlyn Warter
Class of 2009
|American Indian MBA Benefits Spike Bighorn|
Spike Bighorn Advances through Gonzaga's Unique MBA Program
Gonzaga is the only university in the nation with a Master of Business Administration program designed specifically for American Indian students and Spike Bighorn is among the grateful beneficiaries of Gonzaga’s forward-thinking. Gonzaga’s MBA program with an emphasis in American Indian Entrepreneurship was launched in 2001 through the School of Business Administration.
“The MBA in AIE program was created to help stimulate the development of small business on American Indian reservations by preparing effective leaders to manage and support these businesses,” said AIE Program Manager Stacey Chatman. “We are fortunate to be the only university in the country that offers a program specifically for Native American MBA students.”
Bighorn, a 2005 MBA-AIE alumnus, could not agree more.
“The degree I earned from this program has allowed me to advance professionally through the ranks of my agency,” said Bighorn who is currently chief of staff for the Bureau of Indian Education in Washington, D.C.
“I can honestly say that every class I completed at Gonzaga has provided me with knowledge and-or experience to draw upon during my tenure as chief of staff at the Bureau of Indian Education,” Bighorn said. “I was fortunate to take a variety of courses at GU, which correlates well with the variety of issues and challenges I experience in my present position.”
The program was established by Gonzaga in 2001 at the request of the private Johnson Scholarship Foundation. The Foundation chose Gonzaga to develop the program because of its national recognition and accreditation, and because it fits so well with Gonzaga’s mission.
The Johnson Scholarship Foundation helps individuals from traditionally underprivileged groups obtain an education. Bighorn, whose career has been enhanced as a result of the program, is but one example of how the Foundation stays true to its publicly stated belief “that education can empower disadvantaged people to improve their economic circumstances and quality of life.”
The Foundation has allocated scholarship support for American Indians through nine of the tribal colleges in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
Gonzaga’s AIE program allows students to attend class on the Gonzaga campus during the summer and then complete their fall and spring coursework through distant learning. The AIE is a three-year program, but that may change.
“A proposal for a two-year course curriculum is currently being proposed to the Gonzaga business faculty and administration, and will hopefully be effective next June,” Chatman said.
Already, the program has a total of 20 alumni. The graduating Class of 2008 included four AIE students. Two dozen more students were hosted on campus during the 2008 summer session, constituting the largest cohort since the program began in 2001. The AIE offers invaluable service to the American Indian communities where students live and work, and exemplifies Gonzaga’s mission at work in the world today.
This past July, the program received national and international attention at the Graduate Management Admissions Conference (GMAC), where business professionals share success stories and learn about trends and research practices that help define graduate management education today.
Gonzaga recently began another graduate business program designed to fill a specific, unmet educational niche in the Inland Northwest. The MBA in Healthcare Management, a program designed to train managers to produce and deliver various healthcare services in the region, started last fall. There are 16 students enrolled in that program, which is expected to add considerable support to the regional healthcare industry. Spokane is a burgeoning regional hub in the healthcare field.
For more information, including eligibility criteria and admission requirements for the program, contact AIE Program Manager Stacey Chatman at (509) 313- 4622, or via e-mail.