It took divine intervention for Joel Bohannon to end up in the Master of Business Administration program at the University of Southern Indiana.
“It was a journey,” he said. “Before I became a pastor, I was studying to become a pediatrician. I met the Lord. He told me to go to Oakwood University and study theology, and I went. The rest is history. After I finished school the door opened up for me to be here in Evansville. It’s been an interesting journey.”
Bohannon is pastor of three churches in southern Indiana — Metropolitan in Evansville, Mount of Olives in Terre Haute and Cornerstone in Jeffersonville — for the Chicago-based Lake Region Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. He rotates delivering sermons each weekend.
“Every weekend, I’m in a different location,” he said. “I’m a regional manager, if you have to put it in corporate terms. It has had its challenges. The distance between the churches has put a lot of miles on my car, but I have worked with the boards of each church to get them self-sufficient so I don’t have to travel as much.”
Bohannon is considering adding an engineering management specialization to the MBA. Once he completes the hybrid program in 2018, he hopes to transition into administration.
“I wanted to become more marketable,” he said. “I wanted to diversify. This is the next degree — then I have a few more I’m also considering.”
Bohannon was a sophomore biology major at the University of West Georgia when he transferred to Oakwood University to focus on theology. After he graduated in 2009, he earned a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in 2012.
“I was a door-to-door salesman,” he said. “I did that all the way through my undergrad. Once I graduated, I continued in that venture. When I finished my first master’s, I started a small moving company. I did that until I was placed here in Evansville.”
Even though his career field is much different than what is typical for most MBA students, he has already gained a tremendous amount of practical knowledge after just two courses — MNGT 611: Leadership Skills and Innovation and MKTG 601: Marketing Strategies.
“Everything I have learned in these two classes has been applicable,” he said. “Literally, if I learned it in class on Tuesday, I put it in practice on Wednesday. I told my teachers that it’s amazing how relevant the topics are. They have given me the ability to put words and actions to what I was already seeing and doing.”
Bohannon especially loves to apply marketing principles to church ministry and preaching.
“With the marketing class, I gained the tools and resources I need to market myself, along with marketing Jesus,” Bohannon said. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn. The first thing you need is a product. I’m creating resources to help people study and learn more about the Bible. In turn, I’m taking these resources and I’m marketing them through the tools I learned through the MBA program.”
Bohannon is also planning to use his marketing skills for a separate project he’s working on.
“I’m writing a book and creating a workbook for the book. I’m basically creating a class. I’ll market the class to all of the different churches in the area. I’m building a brand. Then, I’ll market the brand. ”
The support of friends and family have helped Bohannon return to higher education for a second master’s degree.
“They love it,” he said. “I have a few mentors who have been with me for a long period of time who are very excited about me continuing my education. All of my brothers and sisters, save one, have bachelor’s degrees. Some of them have master’s degrees. Education has been a necessity. It opens doors.”
Marishka, Bohannon’s wife, has been especially inspired by his quest for more knowledge.
“She is very excited,” he said. “When I started my second master’s, she started talking about getting her master’s degree. She’s looking to get into school, so we’re going to be a highly educated family. She’s looking into a human resources degree, but she is not locked into anything yet.”
Even though he’s still in the early stages of the MBA program, Bohannon knows he made the right decision. He is also very excited that he will complete the program in about 12 months.
“The program is 10 classes, 30 credits,” he said. “My Master of Divinity program was 86 credit hours. It was a three-and-a-half year program. That was almost like getting another undergraduate degree. If you go straight through this program, you can finish in a year. I think that’s just awesome.”
Learn about the USI online MBA program.
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