It has been a wild year. At the beginning of the year, I was serving in the United States Peace Corps
in an Albanian village bordering Greece. I was training other volunteers, working on tourism
projects, and marking hiking trails to increase tourism in the area. As the entire world knows,
COVID-19 had different plans for all of us.
We were evacuated on March 15th back to the States, along with over 7000 Peace Corps volunteers worldwide. I was not ready to be back in the States in general, and much less so in a COVID world.
It took me a while to find my bearings again. I felt like I was ripped apart from my service in Albania, and did not know what my next steps were going to be. Luckily, I was able to return to my previous job at a marketing agency in the state of Arkansas in a managerial capacity. I was working remotely and spent the lockdown living in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
I knew I wanted to get an MBA to gain both managerial and leadership experience, and knew I wanted to pursue my degree outside of the United States. I started looking for different programs and couldn’t quite find anything that matched exactly what I wanted. Then, one of my favorite professors from my bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas, Molly Rapert, told me about CIMBA. It sounded like a perfect match for me with its focus on leadership, so I applied.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Full-time program and receive the Stefano Andrello scholarship. As I began to prepare for my departure in September, I was informed that the Fulltime program was suspended for the year. Luckily, I had already received my student visa and was able to transfer into the Part-time program. This also meant that I would be able to continue working for my marketing agency back in the States during the week while taking MBA courses on weekends.
I arrived in Italy on September 6 th and was required to quarantine with no contact for two weeks. This was a difficult two weeks, without any human contact. I was lucky enough to have a balcony with a beautiful view of Pieve Del Grappa and Monte Grappa, so that definitely made the isolation easier. The CIMBA staff brought me food 3 times a day every day and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. After those two weeks of isolation, I had freedom!
It felt amazing, and I felt supported by the CIMBA staff the whole time. They helped me with my residency application, helped me secure temporary housing, and I was even able to attend the CIMBA graduation event in September.
I am very glad to be here, and that classes have started. I have already been able to make friendships with others in the Part-time program. Between working remotely and taking classes, I have been very busy and CIMBA has been incredibly helpful in helping me jump through all of the COVID-19 hoops that are now a part of the world we live in. I am excited to continue my learning, build my network, and upgrade my business skills here at CIMBA
Cole McQuirk, MBA Part-time class 2020