Roger J. Joe, the Manager/Owner of the IHOP restaurant in Kingsland, GA. Joe is a student at Brenau's South Georgia campus.

Morning Joe

At the IHOP franchise in Kingsland, Ga., it is always morning – considering that you can get breakfast and hot coffee anytime during the day. And operator Roger Joe, an M.B.A. candidate at Brenau says his education not only is helping him learn things use in his business now but also helps him keep a fresh eye on future options.

At some point in their school careers, most students have questioned why they’re being forced to learn one lesson or another. For Trinidad native Roger Joe, however, the question was not why, but how. As in, how could he use the learning to better his businesses?

Although he is not a slow learner, Joe, 49, had been enrolling in classes leading to a Master of Business Administration degree at Brenau’s Kings Bay campus since 2005 – shortly after the U.S. Navy transferred him from Japan to its Trident submarine base on the Georgia coast. The Navy enlisted man planned to retire in 2007 after he completed his 20-year hitch and needed something to help him build a strong foundation for the future. However, his voyage into higher education is not quite over.

Joe completed an M.B.A. in 2011 and now has returned to campus to add Brenau’s celebrated project management emphasis to the degree.

“In my business, it’s very important to keep fresh eyes on your operations,” he says. “I’m always looking at my business model to figure out how I could operate more efficiently and how to grow my business further. The classes that I’ve taken at Brenau have been very beneficial and have provided me with project management tools that are very useful.”

But what is his business? Joe runs the IHOP franchise in Kingsland, Ga., just of the well-trafficked I-95 corridor that connects virtually all the states along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard – a location that is about six miles from the main gate of the submarine base on which the Brenau campus currently resides.

Before enrolling in the small university he’d never heard of, Joe performed some due diligence and “received a lot of positive feedback.” At the time, “Joe Enterprises” focused mainly on rental property ownership and management. Once he enrolled, however, his Brenau education, even in its early stages, not only helped him transition from the Navy to civilian life, but also helped him shift the focus of his commercial venture.

“My classes have certainly helped me as a business owner because they cause you to look at your business from a different perspective,” says Joe. “I’m very satisfied with my Brenau experience. The faculty has been very helpful and I’ve learned a lot of practical things that will help me in my business.”

That thirst for knowledge comes partly from his curiosities and partly from cultural influences.

“When I was growing up in the Caribbean, education was very important,” says Joe, who is the father of three daughters. “There’s a lot of knowledge out there and I’ve always encouraged my girls to pursue higher education.”  However, he adds, meeting the demands of business, studies and home can be difficult, but not impossible

“Balancing family obligations with business responsibilities is challenging on its own, but to add school to the mix makes it even more complicated but I’ve always been a strong proponent of education.”

Joe’s daughters Rhoda, Michela and Latashia range in ages from 16 to 21, and they seem to have received the message from dad loud and clear. Rhoda is a pre-med student at Georgia Southern University, Michela is studying nursing at Valdosta State University and Latashia is a rising-high school junior who says now she wants a career in law.

Although the daughters seem to have chosen a more traditional education path than their father, Joe says that the choices have been their own. And, he adds, he has no regrets about his Brenau experience.

Says Joe: “I recommend Brenau to my staff all the time.”

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