Ubaldo Jimenez was born in the Dominican Republic, a developing country located in the Caribbean. Like many Dominicans, he grew up in a low-income family. His parents’ main concern was to earn enough money to provide a roof over the family’s heads and put enough food on the table. “But, gratefully, despite the financial limitation, our devotion to God and the atmosphere of love we experienced in our home allowed my sister and me to enjoy a happy childhood,” he says.
Ubaldo’s mother was a nurse in the Dominican Republic and sold prepared food at the local market. She dedicated her free time to support her children in getting a good education and succeeding at school. His father spent 13 years in the Dominican Army and later worked as a security guard and drove a bus for a private company. Unlike his mother, who emphasized academic, social, and personal development in the hope of a better future, his father leaned more toward passing on his love of baseball. Thus, he introduced Ubaldo to baseball and used his rare days off to teach him how to play the game that ultimately became his passion and the way out of poverty.
In 2001, at age 17, just a few months before he graduated from high school, Ubaldo got to accomplish the dream of his life — he signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Colorado Rockies after he finished high school. “This represented the unique opportunity of getting paid for doing what I loved, and the signing bonus helped me provide a better life for my family,” he says. “Eventually, we rented a bigger house — meaning that I didn’t have to sleep in the living room anymore — and bought a used car and saved some money in the bank.”
Ubaldo played for six years in Denver, and he became one of the Rockies’ all-time pitching leaders. He helped the team reach the 2007 World Series against Boston. In 2010, he threw the Rockies’ first and only no-hitter game to date. He also became the only Rockies pitcher to start an MLB All-Star Game (in 2010). After his time in Colorado, he went on to play three years for the Cleveland Indians and four years for the Baltimore Orioles.
He retired after the 2017 season and decided it was time to continue his education journey. He just graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in business administration.
What made you decide to go back to school?
When my mother agreed to let me start my baseball career back in 2001, I promised her that someday after my baseball career was over, I would have to go back to school to pursue a college degree. Thus, in 2017, as I was in the final year of my baseball contract with the Baltimore Orioles, it was the right time to commit myself to that promise. After all, earning a college degree would only benefit me by opening many doors down the road, and it allows me to set a good example for my children and others to follow.
What made you choose Florida Tech?
There were various critical factors when I started my college search that determined why I chose Florida Tech. The most important one was that 16 years have passed since I finished high school. That was a long time without working on an algebra problem or writing an essay for a school assignment. Thus, my main focus was to find a reputable place with open doors to everyone willing to put in the effort to learn, regardless of the stage of their life, and without having to test themselves with an SAT admission test. Furthermore, at age 33, with a growing family and a very demanding job, I needed an institution that provided a flexible and entirely online, high-quality education with accreditation and credibility.
What it’s like to learn in a 100% online environment?
The great thing about learning online is the convenience of studying anywhere you want with a flexible schedule. For instance, when I started the online classes, I was in the middle of an MLB season. In addition, I just had my first daughter, both requiring significant time and responsibilities. Still, I was able to squeeze in the time to learn by just having a laptop computer and internet available. This flexibility, in fact, makes online programs more convenient than the in-class environment, but it does not make it easier. It takes great willpower, determination and perseverance to earn a degree online. I mean, you have to sacrifice time that can be used to rest after work, moments that you can spend with your loved ones, or many hours that we can use to watch movies and shows online. Besides, you are all alone, drinking plenty of coffee to put up staring at a computer screen for more than 10 to 16 hours a week. Regardless of these circumstances, I’m glad I took online classes because it allowed me to learn and earn a degree while working, traveling, and while I was at home with my family, watching my three daughters grow.
In the long run, learning in a 100% online program offers excellent benefits for students as long as they are willing to put in the effort to learn and have practical time management skills to be more productive and successful in the online environment.
How have you been able to balance school, work and life?
In my experience, it was extremely challenging to earn a degree while playing professional baseball and having children who waited to play with me when I got home. The only way I got to balance work, school and life was by improving my time management skills. I realized that time was gold, so defining how I spent my time in everything I did was imperative to balance my life. As a result, I started to schedule when to study, the time that I would spend with my family and friends, nap time, movie time and the time to take care of myself (e.g., lunch, dinner, gym, sauna, etc.). In the end, managing my time more effectively made my life easier, and it allowed me to fulfill all my responsibilities on time.
What courses were your favorites, and why?
My favorite courses were Global Business Perspectives, International Management and Finance for Managers. The primary reason I liked the first two is that they educated us about the critical elements required to succeed in today’s challenging global environment. For instance, both of these courses emphasize the importance of learning and understanding different cultures to thrive in business. As I came from another country and played and shared with people from different cultures and languages, I am aware that by learning from others, we can conquer new business opportunities that will help a company grow locally and internationally. On a different note, I enjoyed Finance for Managers because it taught me the fundamentals of managing personal and potential business finance, which is critical for our everyday life.
Who is in your support network, and what have they done for you?
I thank God every day for the family He gave me. They have been the number one on my support network list since I can remember. My parents always guided me on the right path, and they worked non-stop to provide me with the best education they could afford. They have always motivated me to be the best of me by setting the best example a son can have from his parents. In the same way, they have provided me with the unconditional support that has helped me get through tough times, allowing me to stay on course and succeed in school, work, and life.
Since I married, my wife also provided emotional and practical support in my baseball career and recent academic achievement. Days and nights, she waited for me to get home after a game to massage my sore body, and always encouraged me to chase my goals. In the same way, she made sure to create a peaceful, stress-free time and space for me to focus on my study by watching our children and keeping them busy.
How did Florida Tech (and Bisk) support you?
Florida Tech and Bisk combined provide me the best chance to succeed in the online learning environment. From the moment I decided to enroll, Bisk’s representatives guided me step by step, making the entry process easy and satisfying. It was of great help to have the same representative assisting me along the way, considering that I was going back to school after sixteen years, and it was my first time participating in the U.S. education system. Furthermore, he helped me choose my courses and required materials on time, monitored my academic standing, and was always available for any questions or concerns.
The university has a group of high-quality professors and a technical support team that was always available when I needed it. In addition, they provided access to an online library and tutoring that helped me enhance my knowledge, improved my academic performance, and made my educational journey more memorable.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
The primary reason why I studied was to learn and equip myself intellectually and socially for life after my baseball career. With this in mind, I hope this degree will help me have a successful business career and open up many opportunities in this environment.
What are your long-term goals (personal and professional)?
My most significant long-term personal goal is to continue being faithful to God and be an instrument that He uses to bring good to this world through empathy, kindness, compassion and generosity. One possible step toward this direction is by starting a nonprofit organization that provides for those in need. I also want to have two more children (praying for my first boys) and learn French and Italian. On the other hand, my goals in the professional aspect are to start a business, develop my professional brand and improve my auditory communication skills.
Describe a few of the great things that have happened to you since starting and completing your Florida Tech education.
During my college education, I was blessed on two occasions with beautiful and healthy daughters. Even though they made my study experience more complicated, they served as an extra motivation to do my best. Another important event during that time was that my parents and wife became lawful permanent residents of the U.S., allowing us to live happily together in this great country. Finally, one of the most remarkable things happened just a day after my graduation; I was contacted with a potential opportunity to start working. Unfortunately, I had to explain that I haven’t decided what to do next with my life, but that moment made me incredibly proud because it showed me that all the sacrifices I made were worth it.
What advice would you give to someone considering going back to school?
If you can study to become the person you dreamed of being, do not think twice. A college education not only can open up new opportunities and the chance to live a better life, but it will also enhance your intellectual abilities, allowing you to make better choices in life. And it’s gratifying to know that your achievement can positively influence other people’s lives, including your children and other family members, friends, fans and any other person inspired by your sacrifice.