Although Calvin Hudson has a military and law enforcement background, he recently added a new twist to his career. Hudson and his wife, Monique, own a Ben's Soft Pretzels franchise in Fort Worth, Texas.
''We started the pretzel business small until we can work up to something bigger,'' Hudson said. ''Our ultimate goal is to have a huge portfolio with hotels and restaurants. Right now, we sell pretzels at all of the Texas Christian University football, basketball and baseball games.''
Hudson paved the way for making that salt-covered dream a reality by graduating from the Master of Business Administration in Human Resources Management online program at Fitchburg State University in May 2019.
''I had been in the military my entire career, so I didn't know what path I wanted to go down at first,'' he said. ''I started with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. I didn't have any type of background or knowledge about running a business, but I knew that it was hard work.''
After completing an undergraduate degree at American Military Institute while working as a Dallas police officer, Hudson enrolled in the online MBA program in January 2018. He now works full time as a criminal investigator and state police officer for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
''Since my schedule was: going to work, getting off work and then hitting my classes, I figured I would go on and finish up the MBA, too,'' he said. ''I also wanted to do something that was challenging. I had a plan of how I wanted to go and stuck with it. My wife encouraged me to do the MBA program.''
An MBA that grows your business opportunities
"Fitchburg State allowed me to become a good business owner because of those skills I learned: managing employees, learning and understanding the science behind the reason how they act at work, [and] learning how to basically take care of your employees. Fitchburg State allowed me to do that and I'm grateful for that." Watch to learn more about Calvin's story.
Cutting the Mustard
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Hudson enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2005. He worked in communications and as a contract recruiter during his almost-nine-year tenure.
''I always wanted to make an impact on the community,'' he said. ''After I became a police officer, I realized there were a lot more things that I could be doing. I wanted to do my part helping in the community. That's why I decided to go back to school and get my bachelor's degree in criminal justice.''
Although Hudson was unfamiliar with Fitchburg State, he did some research, found information about the online MBA in HR Management program and liked what he saw.
''I was looking for schools that could offer me the tuition rate that I needed and could afford,'' he said. ''I knew that my GI Bill would cover it. Fitchburg also had a very good MBA program with the concentration I wanted in HR Management. A lot of people ask me where Fitchburg State is. I didn't know before I started the program.''
The online format was obviously important for Hudson to balance a full-time job and a business on the side, but it was equally vital because his wife gave birth to their first child, Calvin Drake, 10 months before he graduated.
''I had a lot going on,'' Hudson said. ''I was already familiar with the online format from my undergraduate program. Since coursework was due at the end of the week, I was able to set my own deadlines and accomplish what I needed to do within the week. I didn't have any issues. The flexibility of the online format is enormous.''
MGMT 9070: Legal Issues in Human Resources Management was Hudson's favorite course in the MBA curriculum, and he took away some skills from other courses that apply heavily to his entrepreneurial endeavor, just like he hoped he would.
''The most important thing I learned was being able to handle certain issues that arise within HR and how to manage them,'' he said. ''Being able to talk to your employees and show them the legal knowledge they need to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations governing employment relationships."
Although Hudson hopes to make the pretzel business a massive success, he knows having an MBA gives him plenty of viable backup options.
''My wife and my dad were especially excited about it because I told them I wanted to work with investigations,'' he said. ''They had my back on it. I know most employers are looking for MBA graduates — especially in the fraud field.''
Hudson put the exclamation point on earning a graduate degree by making his first trip to Massachusetts to walk in the commencement ceremony.
Based on his positive experience at Fitchburg State, his sister, Jasmine, enrolled in the online MBA in HR Management program and will graduate in December 2019.
''I highly recommend the MBA program to other people,'' he said. ''You have to be open-minded and make sure to set aside time to focus on the actual coursework, but that will go a long way when it comes to taking a test and using that information later on within your career field.''
Although Hudson isn't ruling out a return to college for a post-graduate degree someday, he is focused on helping raise his son and making their Ben's Soft Pretzels franchise as big as Texas.
''Starting a business has been a learning experience as we have gone through it,'' he said. ''We want it to be our full-time jobs someday, and I figured the MBA would help me out. I was also big on having those letters by my name.''
Knot too shabby.
Learn more about the Fitchburg State online MBA in Human Resources Management program.
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