Vanita King (left) with her mother

“What is my better?” Vanita King asked herself at her pastor’s urging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly finding herself working from home without her daily three-hour commute, she had some extra time on her hands.

“When we talk about 2020, an extraordinarily challenging year, I looked at it as presenting an unexpected gift — a trifecta of time, resources and opportunity,” she said. “I had just been riding the wave for so many years because I earned my CPA when I was only 24 years old. I decided it was time to do more and to do better and started looking at MBA programs.”

King chose to enroll in Longwood University’s Master of Business Administration in General Business Track online program. With 10 courses to work through, she plans to complete the program in the spring of 2022.

Just the Ticket

King is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and director of internal audit at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or DC Metro. She earned her undergraduate degree in accounting from the College of William and Mary.

“The DC Metro is a critical part of the infrastructure here in Washington and the nation’s third largest public transit system,” she said. “I enable change for strong organizational governance, internal controls, risk mitigation, business process improvement and regulatory compliance.”

Some wondered why King would want to return to school when she was already doing so well in her career, with nearly eight years in her current job. She admits her thirst for knowledge and desire for continuous improvement are driving factors. Even when her family faced hardship during her first semester, she found a way to keep her studies going.

“I lost my father in the midst of my first class. That would have been a great excuse to say, ‘You know what? I’m done. I tried it. This year is too much,’ but I knew he wouldn’t want me to do that. And that’s not what I wanted for myself, so I just kept moving forward.”

The Perfect Platform

Given her busy schedule, King needed an online program to accommodate her demanding career as well as church and family activities. She is enjoying the asynchronous online format.

“Longwood’s program has been great for me. A perfect fit,” she said. “It’s so convenient and affordable.”

She also values the accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) that Longwood’s College of Business and Economics holds. Strategic Marketing has been King’s favorite course so far.

“Marketing is actually psychology,” she said. “It’s sociology. It’s the study of culture, and people’s mindset and why we make certain decisions.”

Another favorite was the Managerial Accounting course, which brought her back to her first love: debits and credits.

A visual learner, King pictures her life as a merry-go-round where everything around her can seem blurry if she goes too fast. She credits Longwood’s online MBA program with helping her to slow down and take a focused look at her goals.

On the Right Track

As a child, King used to volunteer at church to count Sunday School funds. When she was in high school, her mother suggested she think about majoring in accounting since she seemed so drawn to numbers. As an educator of 30 years, her mom is one of her biggest supporters and now also her housemate.

“I had to do some research since I had heard of a CPA, but I didn’t really know what they did. I looked into it and realized, ‘Hmm, this might be a good fit for me,'” she said.

While King loves her current role in internal audit, she is still excited to see where her MBA will take her.

“Right now, as director, I’m almost as high as I can go, but I could eventually move into a chief risk officer or chief audit executive position,” she said. “I feel confident that I will have mastery of business administration when I complete this program with all that I am learning in marketing, finance, accounting, strategic management, group dynamics, leadership and entrepreneurship.

“My mom is just so positive. She says things like, ‘Study, study, study. You can do it. You’ve always been smart. You can get it done, and it’ll pay off,'” she said.

Her friends are supportive, too, and she knows they will encourage her until she completes the program.

New Destinations

While King loves to travel, the pandemic forced her to postpone trips to California, Italy and Spain.

“The world is fascinating,” she said. “Travel teaches tolerance and appreciation for diversity and culture. It breaks down walls to help us understand that people are people, and we’re all wonderful and beautiful in our own ways.”

In addition to completing her MBA, King plans to pursue some additional certifications in risk management and information systems auditing.

“I never want to flatline when it comes to education, knowledge and my career,” she said. “As long as I’m working, I want to be in tip-top shape and stay connected.”

Learn more about Longwood University’s online MBA program.