You don’t grow up in Gueydan — home of the famed Duck Festival — without an affinity for the water.
Zachary Badon, 33, has always been an avid fisherman. Eventually, that hobby evolved into a craft: custom fishing rods. But Badon never thought of the skill as anything more than a pastime until he decided to complete his degree through the online BSBA in Management program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.
“It was just a hobby, something I did for friends,” he said. “I never really thought about it as a business, but the more we work on it, the more ideas I have for moving it forward.”
Badon’s college career started at UL Lafayette in 2005, but when he was injured in a car accident his junior year, he ran into a series of obstacles.
"I missed a bunch of classes because of my injuries, and I failed a bunch of classes. I didn’t know what to do, so I gave up,” Badon says.
He began working full time in the oilfield services industry. He now works as a training coordinator in human resources.
In 2020, Badon began looking into ways he could complete his degree while maintaining his work schedule and found UL Lafayette’s online degree programs.
“I wanted to change my future for me and my family,” he says. “UL Lafayette was always the place I wanted to graduate from. I looked into the program and it was only going to be about a year and a half to finish.”
Growing personally, professionally
Through the online business program, Badon says he’s been able to immediately apply knowledge from courses in international management — which he says is especially relevant to the global nature of the oil industry — and leadership.
"I work as a supervisor, and the leadership course has already helped me understand the differences between being a good manager and a good leader,” he says.
Badon says he’s also noticed a difference in his work. He says managers are requesting far fewer revisions on documents since he’s been reading and writing papers for class.
When Badon enrolled in the online management program in August 2020, he registered for Entrepreneurial Management and Introduction to eBusiness with associate professor Dr. Ron Cheek.
Badon mentioned his custom rods to Dr. Cheek and the longtime instructor encouraged him to grow the idea.
"Dr. Cheek likes to mentor people; he likes to take them under his wing,” says Badon.
The budding entrepreneur envisions growing his website and becoming a supplier for others looking to make their own finishing rods. He’s been able to work toward that goal while earning degree credit through an independent study with Dr. Cheek this semester.
Paving a new path
In addition to his full-time job, Badon is married with an 8-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, four dogs, and is in the process of building a house.
He says adding school to the mix has been an adjustment.
“Sometimes it's a real struggle, you know. You just have to move forward,” says Badon. “I worked with someone overseas who used to tell me, 'The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.' I think about that a lot, just taking it one day at a time.”
He’s also keeping his family in mind as he nears the end of his degree program. With a projected graduation date of December 2021, Badon would be the first in his family to earn a college degree.
Badon says when he left the University in 2009, it was hard on his grandmother who looked forward to seeing him become the family’s first graduate. Although she lost a battle with pancreatic cancer in 2019, Badon wants his grandfather and his own children to see him don his cap and gown.
“I realize that my daughter is at a very special time in her life where she sees what we are doing, and she is learning to become her own individual self," Badon says. “I want her to see her dad graduating from college. I want to walk her around campus and show her where I go to school. I want her and my son to see what I'm doing and what I did, and hopefully, they will continue the same path and continue with their education after high school in whatever they want to do.”
Request information today about UL Lafayette’s online B.S.B.A. in Management degree program. Start courses in January, March, June, August, or October.