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Online MBA Student Denis McKinnon III Keeps Family Traditions Alive

UWF online MBA student Denis McKinnon III

Denis McKinnon III was ready to answer when destiny called.

Just like the majority of his family members, the Pensacola native works in the finance industry. He is a compliance and financial analyst officer at Capital Trust Agency in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

"I won't necessarily say finance is in my blood, but it's something I have been interested in," McKinnon III said. "I love the puzzle aspect to it. I love figuring out how the formulas apply and how I can work it to analyze and make sure my company is making the best decisions."

Then, destiny called back. McKinnon III answered again by enrolling in the online Master of Business Administration program at the University of West Florida. He will graduate in December 2018.

"My grandad, Denis McKinnon, got his MBA from UWF," he said. "He was a big impetus for why I wanted to continue my education, so here I am. My big thing is I'm going to be spending my money -- why not spend it in my community?"

Although UWF is just 10 minutes from McKinnon III's home, he chose the online program in order to balance work, school and his personal life.

"It was the best way to go," he said. "I will get to the office at eight o'clock to start work and stay until nine or 10 most nights to keep studying or take my exams or quizzes. It's been nice. I've got a lot of flexibility here with being able to stay late and do the work I need to get done. If I had taken the MBA program in class, there is just no way. I have to travel a lot with work."

Home to Pensacola

Denis McKinnon III and his father

Denis with his father in a boat that his grandfather built

McKinnon III graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Florida State University in 2016. He took a couple of online courses there before enrolling at UWF.

"Those online courses were less structured, which was not what I was used to," he said. "I was very used to structure at FSU with in-person classes. I really like the way the MBA program is set up at UWF. You have deadlines, so you are able to keep on track. They do a really good job with the program. Also, the professors are very accessible."

Right off the bat, McKinnon III gained some valuable insight in the MBA program with the first two courses, GEB 5878: Business Process Integration and GEB 5930: Information Resources and Industry Analysis.

"Those courses were nice because they taught me more about research," he said. "Not that I didn't know how to research, but they mapped out exactly what the program expected from students with the portfolio project that was due at the end of four classes. It really helped with the layout of what the professors were going to be expecting and helped get my feet wet in the research area."

However, FIN 6406: Financial Management, the most recent course he completed, is his favorite to date. He has been able to immediately apply all of the knowledge gained from the curriculum to his career.

"I use it every day," McKinnon III said. "My boss is very happy with it. I've been very happy, too. The different portfolio papers ask for certain criteria, and you have to meet that by analyzing an industry or analyzing a certain company and going through and figuring out exactly what they need to succeed. Applying those skills to my day-to-day job is very beneficial."

Wedding Bells

Denis McKinnon III with Jordan

The career and education aren't the only things going quite well for McKinnon III. He will marry his fiancee, Jordan Kirk, in April.

"We worked together at a Christian summer camp in Birmingham," he said. "I did waterfront activities, and she did the rope activities. She thinks she is ready for her MBA now because she sees me do it and excel and appreciates the time I've spent doing it. Maybe it's her turn."

McKinnon III, who enjoys building furniture with the other two Denis McKinnons -- his dad and grandad, is thankful for his family's encouragement and support throughout his career and higher education.

"Oh, man, they are very excited," he said. "My dad is proud. I didn't walk across the stage at FSU. He said that there will be serious implications if I don't walk at UWF."

McKinnon III, an avid hunter and deep-sea fisherman, believes the online MBA program at UWF is ideal for anybody as long as they prepare.

"You have to jump in feet first and spend as much time as you can," he said. "Don't ever miss a deadline. Look at your book. Read every book. Pay attention to those deadlines -- those are especially important. A lot of people could excel in this program. It's beneficial. I would recommend it."

Although McKinnon III isn't sure where he will go with an MBA, he is right where destiny wanted him to be. He wouldn't have it any other way.

"The options are limitless right now," he said. "I'm very content where I am. I'm happy at my current job. With the MBA, it can only go up. I want to stay involved with the world of finance, and I want to help people."

Learn more about the UWF online MBA program.


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