Generations of higher learning

Father and son earn MBA together

Monday, Jun 10, 2024 • Brian Lopez : contact

Portrait of Oswaldo Jr and Oswaldo Sr

For many, taking the next step in their educational journey can be intimidating or cause stress. But for two students attending The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Business part-time Master of Business Administration program, the stress was lessened for a very special reason.

Oswaldo Ortiz Sr. and Oswaldo Ortiz Jr., a father and son duo, are enrolled in the part-time MBA program at the same time—and are even taking the same courses. Ortiz Sr. was motivated by his son to take this next step in his educational journey right alongside him.

“I thought this program would be a great opportunity for us to learn and spend time together,” said Ortiz Jr. “It’s great to get this time with my dad because you get less and less time with your parents as you transition to the professional workforce. It also helps us both professionally grow, too.”

While Ortiz Jr. is attending the program after finishing his Bachelor of Science in management information systems from UT Dallas, Ortiz Sr. is beginning graduate school 29 years after earning his BS in electronic engineering from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City. He explained that not only is the curriculum different, but so is the medium of learning.

“I can say that education has come a long way since I earned my degree,” said Ortiz Sr. “This program is more interactive, with more participation. The program here focuses on management and working with and understanding other people. Leading people from different backgrounds requires unique styles. Compared to my education in the ’90s, this course uses more tools, and you gain more information.”

As an immigrant from Mexico, Ortiz Sr. thought the program would be perfect for him, thanks to his business experience in Mexico and the U.S. His son explained how his father's history as an immigrant has impacted his own education.

“With my parents being immigrants, I understand the challenges they’ve had to face, and I get unique perspectives from that,” Ortiz Jr. said. “Seeing him apply what he learns in class to his experience contributes to my learning journey. I can see how true the curriculum is.”

With so much time with each other, the duo has been afforded many opportunities for joint growth. This dynamic has led both men to learn new aspects of each other and deepen their familial bond.

“I get to know my dad a bit better and see how he is as a student and person outside of home,” said Ortiz Jr. “We’ll just walk and talk about class on campus and throw ideas at each other. He’s shown me a lot of different ways of thinking and studying. In this part-time MBA program, there are so many different courses and ways of approaching the material. So we’ll sit down and discuss them and learn from one another.”

Though their courses can be challenging, both men lean on the other—and the rest of their family and friends—to provide motivation.

“Sometimes, our family hears about it when we’re talking at dinner, and sometimes we get carried away with school talk. But I think it's good to show our family that we’re doing this,” said Ortiz Jr. “We really try to be high achievers, and because of what my dad and I are doing, my other siblings and friends are really pushing us to be the best we can. I can tell we’re having an effect on them, too.”

By navigating a graduate academic program together, the pair has solidified their bonds, learned from one another, and grown alongside each other as they near their graduation date in fall 2024.

“I have to emphasize just how thankful I am for our time here at UT Arlington. Through all the faculty and courses, I have gained more confidence in myself, technically and professionally,” said Ortiz Jr. “This has been an amazing opportunity for us. My dad and I have definitely made a lot of milestones in this program.”

Though they are achieving a milestone in their career development and education, they are also building more pride in one another for their accomplishments.

“My son was doing a great job in his bachelor’s program, and I knew he was good, but I always wondered how good,” said Ortiz Sr. “I remember the first time we were going to present in class. After watching Oswaldo present his project, I told my wife it was one of the best moments of my life. I want to cry seeing him stand out and grow in every class I share with him. It’s truly amazing.”

— Written by Thomas Johns, College of Business