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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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November 2, 2016

First MABA Graduate Nygard Starts Something at CBA

Brandon Nygard ’16 found a way to both Start Something and leave his mark at the College of Business Administration. As the first graduate of the master of arts of business administration program (MABA), he is now an operations manager at Connell Cattle Feeders, owned by Agribeef in Warden, Washington.
At Connell, Nygard hires and manages a new team of 12 people. Within a year, he plans to oversee the growth of the feed lot from 4,500 head of cattle to 17,000 head of cattle in the next year.
“Taking over this lot and getting it going to Agribeef standards has been an awesome opportunity. The MABA program has helped me prepare for this responsibility in countless ways. I know I would not have been considered for this position without my degree,” he said.
Founded in 2015, the MABA program is the newest graduate degree offered by CBA at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. With a similar curriculum as the nationally-ranked MBA, the MABA program is designed for students with diverse and non-business backgrounds who need to gain the business skills necessary to market themselves as future employees.
Nygard, who earned his undergraduate degree in animal science from UNL, felt like something in his education was lacking. The Wenatchee, Washington native always dreamed of owning and operating his own farm or ranch, but knew early on he needed to diversify his skills to achieve this goal.
“The one thing I had always felt was missing from my undergraduate degree was a background in business. I wanted to own my own business, but I felt like I didn’t have the skills. This was an opportunity to get the actual business skills I needed in just one year,” Nygard said.
Nygard studying outside CBA
Nygard studying outside CBA
As a husband and father to two children, being in school full-time for two years to learn and build these skills was not an option. But 11 months of schoolwork – including a hands-on internship – certainly fit his and his family’s needs and led to the opportunity to work at Agribeef.
Offered on-campus and in cohort design, the accelerated program accepts a limited number of students each year. A new cohort starts each August and students take classes together until May. Then they work at their guaranteed three-credit-hour internship and take one online class in the summer term prior to graduation.
“The best part about MABA was the guaranteed internship. I applied everything I learned in my classes to the real world. The curriculum taught me what I needed to know and changed the way I think and my perspective about businesses,” Nygard said. “The MABA program opened so many doors for me and made me qualified for my new job. It added so much more to my background, make me a more marketable and confident employee and gave me opportunities I would not have had.”
Learn more about the MABA program at