Feature Profile

From Sweet Home Alabama to an Online MSM at Lasell

James Tatara MSM '15

James Tatara hiking the Grand Tetons

James Donald Tatara's BS in chemistry from Auburn University had served him well through a successful three-decade corporate career in Alabama area. He was a. administrative program manager in government aerospace contracting when he decided to pursue graduate studies, looking to advance to becoming "a true project manager, with more of an emphasis on the management of workflows and budgets," he tells Leaves, "rather than the management of people." Tatara launched an internet search for "a fully online program at a reputable school, with an actual campus, not just a virtual school based somewhere out on the internet." And he found Lasell. Tatara received an MSM from the College in May 2015 and within a few months of graduation got the promotion he was hoping for. He delivered the graduate student address at Lasell's Commencement last May.

Of the many colleges between Madison, Alabama and Auburndale, Massachusetts, why did you choose Lasell for your graduate studies? Lasell had a great reputation, an actual campus, a long history and an excellent curriculum, all at a great price versus its competitors.

Were you confident an online degree program would be a good fit? I'd been told that it takes a certain type of person to acquire a degree online. Either that is false, or I am that type of person. The freedom to do work on my schedule, for five minutes or five hours, was very helpful. I work 9-10 hour days, typically getting into the office by 6:15 am, and the flexibility of Lasell's online program allowed me to maintain that schedule with minimal stress.

What was your overall experience like? I found the curriculum to be engaging and the professors extremely helpful. I acquired a great deal of practical knowledge from the coursework that translated into action in my professional life as a manager, improving my status within the organization.

Exactly how did the value of a Lasell MSM in Project Management degree advance your career? I'd applied for several such positions in recent years, but never seemed able to make it past the semi-final cut. My Lasell MSM put me over the top. Within two months of getting my degree, I was offered a project manager position and began in October 2015!

What are your hobbies? Photography, hiking, Cleveland (my hometown) professional sports and Auburn University (my alma mater) football. My wife Marty, a registered dietician, and I recently enjoyed a hiking/photography vacation, visiting the Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks (see photo above).

And when you finally stepped foot on the Lasell campus? I grew up in the south, where people are typically friendly and welcoming. So, I didn't know what to expect in New England. No people were ever more welcoming than those I met at Lasell! The first time I saw the school was a few days prior to Commencement. The campus was beautiful, the professors were great to be around and the staff was amazing. Everyone made Marty and me feel like family. I came away with a fondness for the College and the Boston area that will never fade.

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