Kevin Burjarski, '20 MS-BIA

Kevin Burjarski sits on a bench outside of Conway hall

You might think the ten minute walk across campus to class seems like an inconvenient commute, but think again. Graduate student Kevin Burjarski makes the weekly commute to campus all the way from Arkansas. Read his Q&A below for more.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born in Virginia. My dad was in the Navy, but I grew up in Missouri, around Springfield. My wife and I have been in Arkansas now for six years.

Q: Why did you move to Arkansas?

A: My wife got a job with Arvest Bank. When she graduated, she went down to their home office which is in northwest Arkansas.

Q: Where did you get your undergrad?

A: At Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.

Q: What was your degree in there?

A: Finance.

Q: When you were looking at grad schools, what were some of the key things you were looking for?

A: Well I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. I always knew I wanted to get my master’s degree, but I wanted to make sure I did it in something that wouldn’t be irrelevant someday or taken over by machines. I thought about accounting and things like that but ultimately decided that if I was going to survive in the job market I probably would want something a little more IT related. I don’t remember exactly how I came across the Rockhurst program, but I had a business background and a degree in finance and it seemed to be the perfect blend for someone that had a business background to learn some programming and stuff about data which is what everything is about now. That’s how I ended up deciding to do this.

Q: What played into your decision to commute for school?

A: One of the considerations that was important to me was that I wouldn’t have to do it completely online. I’ve done online classes at times and I just struggle with it. I’m kind of an introvert, but still having the class participation and the relationship with the teacher in person seems to be a big part of how I learn. I knew I was looking for something that was in class. When you just draw a reasonable radius around where I live, there actually wasn’t even a program like this. Kansas City’s always been a city I’ve considered an option to live in, so going to school where I would maybe, potentially want a job and to live was also important. Rockhurst had the program. It wasn’t all online, but they are expanding into some online options which will be helpful, and it was a city I would want to live in potentially.

Q: How long is the trip to and from Kansas City?

A: I just recently started a new job so originally I was a little closer when I would start out, but I’m coming all the way from Springdale, so it takes about 3 ½  hours.

Q: How much longer do you have left in the program?

A: I don’t really know. I have to have three classes a semester to stay active for financial aid, so I’m going slower than what the normal schedule would allow for. Then I’m taking the summer off because we’re having our second child so I’m hoping I’ll be done by 2020.

Q: How has Rockhurst accommodated you?

A: They’ve all been very understanding. This is the first semester I’ve encountered the weather complications and so I’ve had to make some calls. Even though people around the city were able to come to class, I wasn’t going to try to make the drive to class. I don’t think I’ve had anybody use it against me or anything like that. Dr. (Xuan) Pham (Ph.D., assistant professor of management and analytics) at the Helzberg School of Management in particular has been really gracious and really good about it and I have really enjoyed getting to know her. I came up recently specifically to meet with her to talk about my next eight-week class.

Q: Why do you believe Rockhurst was the right choice for you?

A: I think probably because, number one, they have the program. In this particular field, they were on the cutting edge for schools in the area, in the region. One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is that they seem to try really hard to provide value to their students. We’re using a lot of things that don’t cost a lot of money. They purposely try to find the right resources that don’t cost a lot of money, but they’re equipping you to do something that has bigger returns in the future.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking at grad schools that might be out of reach? Location or financially, etc.?

A: I would say, probably just not to rush it. I usually make decisions pretty quickly, but I took three years before I finally decided to do this. I think I could have made three or four different decisions before I made this one and that wouldn’t have panned out very well. This one is working out really well, despite the sacrifice, because it’s what I know I want to do and I found the right spot to do it. Just making sure it’s everything you want it to be.