From ‘I do’ to ‘we did it,’ husband and wife earn MBA degrees together

Aug 12, 2022
Jill Fort "hoods" her husband, Keith, at the Newman University Commencement, May 2022

Married couple Keith Fort, a lieutenant in the Wichita Police Department, and Jill Fort, associate vice president of academic affairs at Newman, earned their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees this May.

MBA students: How it started

In January 2020, Jill became the dean of Newman University’s School of Business. When the pandemic hit full force a couple of months later, Jill began working from home. This meant she got to spend more time with her husband, Keith.

Keith holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and had been discussing his interest in getting a master’s degree with Jill for quite some time. Jill had thought about taking a few of Newman’s MBA courses to test out the program; she ended up liking it enough to earn the degree.

“Maybe it was the being confined on COVID lockdown talking, but we decided that it would be fun to work through the MBA together,” Jill said. “The experience was a blast.”

Keith and Jill Fort (Courtesy photo)
Keith and Jill Fort (Courtesy photo)

Jill added, “We would chat about different business topics and what we were learning over dinner or with our friends. It was a good time, and I am glad that I had him by my side the whole way through.”

Because Keith’s job with the police department requires him to work late at night, he focused on his schoolwork on his days off.

“It was a juggling act to keep up with work and school at the same time, but once I got my routine down, I made it work,” he said. “I enjoyed my classes at Newman and found that many of the projects we worked on in class could be applied to my full-time job instantly. The professors were easy to work with and all very approachable.”

Lt. Keith Fort receives his MBA from Newman University alongside President Kathleen Jagger
President Kathleen Jagger presents Wichita Police Lt. Keith Fort with his MBA degree from Newman University.

An MBA graduate: How it’s going

Before becoming an MBA student and eventual graduate, Keith had already been familiar with the university because of Jill’s job and because he’s been a guest speaker and adjunct instructor in Newman’s criminal justice program.

Keith feels his MBA has set him up for success.

“It has allowed me the opportunity to understand the inner workings of our organization and be able to apply them in real-time to my job,” he said. “I am looking forward to the next chapter in my career whether that’s with the police department, another agency or in the private sector.”

Lt. Keith Fort is "hooded" by Jill at Newman University Commencement, May 2022
Wichita Police Lt. Keith Fort is “hooded” by wife Jill Fort, a faculty member and fellow MBA graduate, at Newman University Commencement, May 2022

Keith’s entire time in the MBA program is something he will forever look back on with gratitude, especially when he remembers how Jill got the chance to “hood” him at commencement.

“It was a very special day, and I am so thankful I was able to experience that with him,” Jill said. “I am beyond proud of all of his accomplishments, especially his MBA.”

Keith added, “Not only did Jill hood me during graduation, but six days later she got to pin my lieutenant badge on me during my promotional ceremony at work. It was quite a week, and I am so thankful that we got to experience it together.”

Jill pins her husband, Keith, during a promotional ceremony for the Wichita Police Department (Courtesy photo)
Jill pins his lieutenant’s badge on her husband, Keith, during a promotional ceremony for the Wichita Police Department. (Courtesy photo)

Keith hopes that his story of returning to school can inspire others like him.

“If you are thinking about coming back to school as a nontraditional student, don’t let it scare you,” he said. “I was apprehensive when I started trying to remember how to do things in Excel, how to write a paper and, more specifically, how to write a paper in APA format, but in the end, it all worked out. It is definitely worth going back to school, especially when you can call yourself a Newman graduate and an alum.”


Earn your Master in Business Administration at Newman

In a world of ever-changing economic trends, technological advancements and increasing globalization, the need for leaders with analytical and problem-solving skills, negotiation and collaboration abilities and the ability to communicate effectively has never been stronger.

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