Kareme Thomas’ passion for dance has led him to earn his MBA online from Florida Tech.
While that journey may seem unusual, in the words of Thomas, it completely makes sense.
“As a dancer and an educator, I have dedicated my life to the educating of young minds both academically and in the art of dance. Now, with this new degree, I would be fully equipped to open, develop and ultimately build my studios from the ground up. This degree has allowed me to familiarize myself more with the business side of owning a flourishing business, which I plan to use as my foundation in establishing my name and organization.”
We spoke with Thomas to learn more about his background and academic journey.
Q. Tell us about your background.
I was born in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands on December 2nd, 1988 to a mom of six and a dad of one. However, immediately following my birth, we relocated to Tortola British Virgin Islands. This became the country where I would be raised from childhood to adulthood.
As a child I remained very active both inside and outside of school, joining several clubs and organizations. This was also around the time that I quickly learned that I had a gift and a passion for dance and moved heavily into it, starting as a church dancer before branching out into choreographing and dancing for several pageants, schools, clubs and churches.
Additionally, while residing in the BVI, I obtained both my high school diploma and an associate’s degree in elementary education before returning to St. Thomas to complete my bachelor’s degree at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), which was in the same major but now with a concentration in English added.
Some of my greatest accomplishments during my time with UVI include being elected the Student Government Vice-President during my first semester on campus as a write-in candidate, being inducted in the internationally recognized Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, and making the honor roll list some semesters there. These are accomplishments I will cherish in my heart forever!
Following my graduation from UVI in 2014, I returned to the BVI where I worked as a teacher by day and a cashier by night. Working hard and pushing for what I want out of life was something I was taught from a very young age by my single mother, who I consider the strongest woman I know.
The BVI brought me many proud moments; however, two of my proudest moments would be when I won my male high school show in 2006 and when I was honored as a young professional on a local online news site, Virgin Islands News Online (VINO), in 2015.
It is my destiny and career aspiration to one day own and operate my very own dance studio and develop it into a chain studio, building it from the ground up.
Q. What were the most important factors in your decision to choose Florida Tech?
In reality, I feel like Florida Tech chose me. I was working as a teacher in the Virgin Islands when I saw an online college recruitment engine and decided to put in my information just to see what would happen. This became the moment that would change my life forever, as I was contacted by a representative that took my information and matched me up with Florida Tech. The school appeared to fulfill all the requirements I desired for going back to school and, judging from the ratings and reviews, appeared to be an institution with high standards. This became the best pick for me, and my representative, Doug Epstein, made it an even more pleasant transition for me.
Q. Do you have any future plans with your degree?
“Dr. Kareme Thomas, PhD,” sure does sound good sound! One day, I would love to be able to return to school to complete my PhD in Dance Education or Cultural Studies, which is another area that fascinates me very much. It is my goal to create a career out of not only teaching, training and molding young dancers into prospective professionals in their own right, but also hopefully getting recognized someday for my amazing choreography and creative skills.
Presently, I enrolled myself in a dance studio owner certification program with the IAP Career College.
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
When preparing to take a single class online, a number of thoughts do rush through your head, let alone an entire degree. I remember thinking to myself, “Will I keep up with the workload? How will the transition from education to business be entirely online? What if I need help with a course?”
However, upon beginning the program with Florida Tech, I rapidly became amazed to see how professional, organized, helpful, easily maneuvered and inviting the entire structure was. My professors, academic advisors, technical support staff and administrative staff all worked together perfectly to not only ease, but erase all of the tension and doubt I experienced, allowing me to focus on the task at hand.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
During this program, I enjoyed a couple of my courses. But, if I had to pick one course that I would say was my favorite, I would select Organizational Behavior. The aim of this course was to understand human behaviors in an organizational environment. This was very enlightening for me to understand my coworkers’ actions and attitudes.
In addition, I enjoyed doing the Research Consultant Paper. The goal was to allow us to showcase what we learned from the course and the application within an organization of our choice. It also gave us a chance to use theories gained from the coursework and how to apply them within an organization to improve effectiveness.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
I would say my most valuable takeaway from the program would be that it requires a lot of hard work, late hours and planning to own and operate a successful business. I also learned that, as a business owner, you have to always be ready to make tough decisions when necessary and strive to build the respect and trust of your subordinates, as they will be beneficial in helping to establish a successful organization.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
To students considering this program, I would say DO IT! But, I would say to be ready to work and put in the time. It is a challenge within itself doing anything strictly online. However, staying organized can help you get through this program even if you were not a business major prior to your MBA. The program at Florida Tech is a great program and the professors are helpful, understanding, knowledgeable and extremely structured.
Q. Who has been your support system?
Similar to a boss or manager needing a positive and supportive staff in an organization, I had a great support system of both friends and family from the Virgin Islands, who were always ready to encourage me when I felt like I wasn’t going to make it through the program. My mom was my most ardent supporter. She has been my number one cheerleader since pre-school. She always remained steadfast and offered encouraging words, advice and even prayer whenever she caught me feeling down and stressed going through the program.
Q. What was the most challenging part of your student journey?
The most challenging part of my student journey was trying to find the drive to bounce back after being placed on academic probation and given an ultimatum that had to be met to remain in the program and regain access to my financial aid funds. This was a major depression to me, as this was all during my first semesters with the school. I allowed this depression to make me think about stopping and walking away. However, with the help of my support system, I endured and made it back to good standing.
Q. What is one fun fact about you?
A fun fact about me would be that I have been dancing, training and choreographing routines for dancers and teams since I was a child. I create all my choreography on-the-spot without pre-planning and I visualize the whole thing in my head before even bringing it to the floor.
Have you completed one of Florida Tech’s online programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.