Caroline Beasley tosses her graduation cap in the air in front of the University of Florida archway

Can an online MBA really be done from anywhere in the world?

Yes, proves tax professional and military spouse Caroline Beasley, who completed her degree from two different countries.

Caroline Beasley experienced a number of major life changes since she started as a student in the UF MBA Online program.

After starting her classes in Norfolk, Virginia, Beasley and her family, including husband Brian and children Charlotte and Vander, moved to Jacksonville, Florida after her first term. Later, after only a few months in Jacksonville, their family went international, moving to Rota, Spain. For almost a year, the family has been living in the sea-side city on the country’s west coast.

With Brian’s role as an active-duty military member, changes like this are not necessarily uncommon, but still challenging for the family of four. Not challenging enough, though, to have stopped Beasley from a fulfilling experience in the UF MBA program.

“To be a successful MBA student while moving around with the military, I knew I would need a flexible program,” Beasley said. “UF MBA did a great job curating a course load that was both intellectually challenging and accommodating to my wild schedule.”

For Beasley, who is a tax advisor with her own CPA practice, her classes have been immediately impactful.

“Because the MBA program material is so useful, I’ve been able to implement a lot of strategies and techniques into my own CPA firm,” she said. “As a tax and business advisor, I am passing knowledge onto my clients so that they can make better business decisions, too.”

In addition to significant insights she can use directly in her work, Beasley also learned plenty more that she can implement in her professional life.

“Each class has had its own unique learning opportunity, and each class is interrelated to the other courses in the program,” she said. “It’s the combination of all the material throughout all of the courses that has been life changing. Skills such as project management, logistics, leveraging your network, leadership, people management, marketing and branding strategies, economics, financial management…I could go on and on!”

Beasley was also able to take her education out of the virtual classroom by participating in the Washington Campus experience in Washington, D.C. and having her fellow cohort members join her in Spain for a Global Immersion Experience in Madrid.

“The Washington Campus residency in D.C. was a turning point in my career,” she said. “Learning about public policy, managing public affairs and advocating for change really piqued my interest. I made some valuable connections during the weeklong program, and I enjoyed the material so much that I want to pivot my career towards the tax policy arena.”

While Beasley is limited in what she can do career-wise as a military spouse living OCONUS (outside of the continental United States), she’s looking forward to using the insights she’s gained once the family returns to the United States, while also hoping to make it easier for military spouses to have fulfilling careers of their own.

Beasley explained that, while serving military orders abroad, host countries generally define what employment options military spouses are allowed to have as part of the Status Forces Agreement (SOFA), or an equivalent bilateral agreement with the U.S.

“Most SOFAs were written between the 1950s to 1980s when spouses were expected to stay home with the children,” she said. “We live in a very different world now; a world full of spouses who also want fulfilling careers. These SOFAs have not been amended enough to allow military spouses, like myself, to maintain a rewarding career while supporting a servicemember abroad.”

Thanks to her experience in the UF MBA program, Beasley has made it a personal objective to use her insights in order to collaborate with government, trade associations and other advocacy networks to redefine the SOFAs with respect to military spouse employment.

This April, Beasley will graduate from the UF MBA program. Her vast experiences in hand, she feels well prepared to accomplish her goals.

“UF is a place where you can find your passion,” she said. “If you’re unsure of your current career path but aren’t sure where you want to go, UF will help you find your sense of purpose. I’m not the same person today as I was when I started the program 21 months ago. I only wish I had applied sooner!”