An MBA with Heart

Ten years ago Deb King would not have imagined that business was her calling in life. The masters in business administration at EMU nurtured her so that now, at 56, she sees herself as an entrepreneur with something valuable to give.

King grew up in an entrepreneurial family of business owners and innovators who viewed business through the lens of servanthood.

“I didn’t even see their work as ‘business’,” she says. “They did what they did because they loved finding ways to make life easier for everybody – through inventing and innovating and serving, always charging a lot less than the going rate. I didn’t think of my family as members of ‘the business world,’ which I thought was full of people whose primary focus was getting ahead, instead of having a positive impact on the community.”

The MBA program opened her eyes to the concept of “business as a calling,” exemplified by her family members who lived their lives as servants to their community.

King is the general manager of Harrisonburg Gift and Thrift Shops, Inc., which includes the thrift store, Gift and Thrift, Artisan’s Hope, which sells fairly traded items, and Booksavers of Virginia, which resells and recycles used books to benefit Mennonite Central Committee.

Gaining confidence and leadership skills

King gained confidence in her ability to lead through the MBA program.

“At first, I was intimidated by my young, bright, articulate classmates and the foreign language spoken by the professors in class. But before long I realized I was on the journey of a lifetime. The classes are interesting and useful, and the instructors are passionate about their areas of expertise – and believe me, there’s an abundance of expertise.”

Working with undergraduates

As a former teacher King has always been energized by young people. Now she gets to work with EMU undergraduate students at Gift and Thrift. Six to 10 students have work-study positions each year and several more volunteer at the organization.

“Our work study students are an essential part of our work force. Often, the students find that they are a part of a community, working alongside people who become their family away from home. "

Using business to make a positive difference in the world

King has many ties to EMU. Both she and her husband Dave graduated from EMU, as did their three children. Dave now works as the director of athletics at EMU. Their son Derek is a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Deb will complete her MBA in 2012 but has chosen to walk in EMU’s spring 2013 commencement ceremony with her son Derek and her nephew Jonathan, an undergraduate student.

When asked what makes EMU special King said, “In our family experience EMU confirmed our Anabaptist ideals and provided inspiration to follow in Christ’s path in our everyday lives and vocations. For example, the MBA program offers much more than the nuts and bolts needed to run a business. At the heart of this program are people who believe that business is a way to make a positive difference in this world.”

About the EMU MBA

EMU offers an MBA based on Christian values of stewardship, sustainability, ethics, integrity, justice, social entrepreneurship and multi-cultural perspectives. Students develop collaborative leadership and management skills through experiential learning, mentored by faculty with international and industry experience. You’ll graduate with leadership and management skills and proven stewardship strategies.

Tracks of study:

The first three tracks of study are 37 semester hours in total, while the graduate certificate is 15 semester hours.

Learn more

Office: 540-432-4150
Toll-free: 866-574-0023
email: