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Attorney Melanie Donahue Broadens Scope With Online MBA in HR Management Program

UL Online -- Mon, 06/27/2022 - 11:06am

As a child, Melanie Donahue dreamed of becoming two things when she grew up — a Ragin’ Cajun and a lawyer. Check. Check.

On her way to law school, Donahue earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Then in May 2019, 18 years after earning her bachelor's degree, Donahue graduated from the University a second time, now with her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management degree through the online program. Lawyer Melanie Donahue earned her BA and her MBA from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Donahue was drawn to earning her MBA because she felt she could become a more knowledgable lawyer for her clients.

“I like the business aspect of practicing law — the contracts and working with business clients,” she says. “While I can look at it from a legal perspective, a lot of time, you need to look at it from the company perspective.

“I felt that getting the MBA would allow me to better serve my clients by giving me a better understanding of the business aspect of what they’re doing,” she says.

The reason Donahue chose the human resource emphasis was her experience working as the executive director of a local government agency when she first became a lawyer.

“I enjoyed the human resources element of that job and working with the employees and doing strategic planning,” she says. “I know that the human resources aspect is where my passion lies.”

Donahue, who graduated with a Doctor of Law from Western Michigan University in 2009, currently practices in Mandeville, Louisiana. She is proud to be a Ragin’ Cajun again.

“My family has been attending school at UL Lafayette since my great grandfather went there when it was Southwest Louisiana Industrial Institute,” she said. “Every generation has attended. The online format allowed me to attend again.”

Managing a Full Plate 

In addition to running a successful law practice, Donahue serves on two nonprofit agency boards of directors. Plus, she and her husband, John Donahue III, have four children — Kelsey, Riley, William, and Brody.

“The online MBA program was manageable,” she says. “During the week, I focused on my office, the kids and family. Then, on the weekends, I got up early and got my work done. It could be pretty time consuming, but it could all be done on a weekend. The flexibility was fantastic.”

MGMT 525: Organizational Behavior and Leadership proved to be one of Donahue’s favorite courses in the MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management program online.

“That course was intriguing,” Donahue says. “It’s not just the business aspect of it; you are looking at the behavior of people you are working with and how different personalities interact and work in an organization and at different leadership styles. That’s very important.”

Donahue believes all of the information in the program is applicable to her job.

“It’s amazing how much I am applying what I am learning every day, not only in my office, but also on the nonprofit boards that I serve on,” she says. “I was able to jump right into conversations and be on the strategic planning committee on one board because of what I learned [in my courses]."

Two Generations of College Students

Lawyer Melanie Donahue earned her BA and her MBA from the University of Louisiana at LafayetteDonahue said her family and friends were excited when she told them about her return to higher education.

“Of course, they also asked, ‘How are you going to do that? How are you going to find time?”‘ she says. “When you really want something, you make it work. Some of my family members are now in the MBA program. Hearing how happy I am with it has been encouraging other people to do the same.”

The experience of returning to college also allowed Donahue to have a bonding experience with her kids. While Kelsey and Riley both chose LSU for their undergraduate studies, Donahue and her daughters were all in college at the same time for a while.

“When they would come home on the weekends, we talked about our homework and our exams and how it’s going,” she says. "It was exciting to share that with them.”

Donahue also believes it’s important to show her younger children the importance of education by example.

“They get off the bus, get home and we have snacks,” she says. “Then it’s, ‘Let’s all do homework.’ They would see me working and ask what I’m doing. I tell them that I have a test. I have a deadline. They see that schoolwork is important and the time management required. They’re learning those things.”

Success Speaks for Itself 

Donahue found the faculty were accommodating throughout her time in the online MBA program.

“The professors and deans work with you and listen to you,” she says. “When I talked to them, I felt like I was talking to an uncle or an aunt because it’s back home.

“The MBA program is flexible. I have encouraged others to enroll for those reasons. I thought online was going to be difficult, but everything you need is right there in front of you. The University makes it easy to use. I did two courses a term, but you don’t have to do that. You can do a slower progression.”

“I told somebody recently who owns his own large company, ‘If you’re going to do your MBA, the UL Lafayette online program is the way to go.’ It was everything I wanted plus some.”

Learn more about the UL Lafayette MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management program online.