Alumni Matthew Goyette and Christian Hanawalt graduated from the AU MBA program last May. Both Matthew and Christian work for Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), and both excelled as students despite being deaf. We caught up with Matthew and Christian to hear about their stories.
Matthew Goyette attended Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, graduating with a degree in accounting and a goal of landing a steady job and pursuing his CPA. He began working for DFAS as an accountant, and from there, realized he could pursue his MBA to further his accounting skills.
DFAS co-worker Christian Hanawalt also attended Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, but wanted to pursue business management. “I have always wanted an MBA—ever since I entered my undergraduate career,” said Christian. “I learned that AU’s school of business is one of the best business schools in the nation.”
Matthew and Christian took night courses once a week at Lawrence Central High School, near the DFAS location. Within 22 months, they earned their MBA degrees.
The rigors of earning a graduate degree were often difficult, especially while working full-time, but both Matthew and Christian agreed that it was doable. “It was a great bonus, really hitting three birds with one stone. I had courses once a week, close to my work—and many of my classmates were DFAS employees,” said Matthew.
One of their most vivid memories was the business plan course, which requires students to create and present an entire business plan. “The business plan was definitely my biggest challenge,” said Christian. “Since I have learned how to write a business plan, I’ve been asked to create a business plan for a friend who is planning a new family physician’s office.”
When asked about their favorite memories from the AU MBA Program, one story in particular stood out. “It was my first day of a summer course and I was sitting in the classroom waiting for the teacher to arrive,” said Matthew. “The teacher was about 10 minutes late and then out of the blue he opened the door and began to sing. It was definitely a robust entrance, and got my attention since you don’t expect that kind of entrance in a business course. That teacher turned out to be one of my favorites.”
Something that set Matthew and Christian apart was taking courses—and excelling in those courses—regardless of being deaf. “My unique experience of being deaf would be that I am an overachiever,” said Christian. “Because of my deafness, it pushes me beyond the limit and I have to work twice as hard to prove my ability to succeed. “One of the biggest advantages of being deaf while studying for my MBA courses, though, was having less distraction around me, such as noise. That’s right, no noise to distract my studying!”
Since graduation, Matthew has continued to work at DFAS as an accountant. He will be getting married this August (to a fellow MBA alum) and is preparing to take the CPA exams.
Christian has continued to work at DFAS as a financial management analyst in system liaison and procedures division under military pay operations (Air Force).