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John Abraham

John Abraham EMBA

Schitsu’umsh Executive to Receive MBA at May Commencement
Written by Donna Emert

University of Idaho student and Coeur d’Alene (Schitsu’umsh) tribal executive John Abraham will receive his Master’s of Business Administration May 10.

The event marks an end and a beginning in his life’s journey, and the fulfillment of a promise.

“My mother, Evangeline Abraham, was excited to learn that I was going after my master’s degree,” said Abraham. “I was used as her role model for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Because she believed in education so much, she encouraged everyone in her family to finish high school at least.”

Abraham’s mother died shortly after he began the University of Idaho Executive MBA program in 2008. Dealing with that loss, a full time job, and a demanding new graduate level curriculum was both a personal and professional challenge.

Abraham is the land service manager for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and like his mother, his commitment to education has been life long. Early in his career he worked in the Department of Education as a GED instructor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Lewis-Clark State College. And he is an advocate of education.

“My mother often told me that in order to survive in the non-Indian world it will be important for a person to receive an education,” said Abraham. “Any time an employee or tribal member increases their knowledge, it benefits their job or tribe. The greater retention of individuals with educational experience is a benefit in itself to any community.”

Abraham has completed University of Idaho’s unique EMBA program, which builds on the university's core competency in integrated business education. The program teaches entrepreneurship, social responsibility, financial management, strategizing, organizing, managing and leading – and the connections between them. While education model hones the skills and insights necessary to succeed in the real world, Idaho’s integrated program is one of only a few of its kind in the nation.

The program is demanding: Abraham kept his full time job and attended classes three days a month, from 7:30 a.m. until 5:50 p.m. on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the University of Idaho classrooms at Molstead Library.

“Classes were intense, covering a lot of material in a short period of time,” Abraham said.

Extensive reading had to be completed prior to class. Students worked in teams; their support and understanding helped keep Abraham focused while he was dealing with loss, he said. The tight knit relationships formed within the group also allowed him to conquer a fear of public speaking.

“I feel the most important aspect of the program was the interaction with other professionals from various organizations,” Abraham said. “I’ve learned to trust more and to become a little more comfortable around other people.”

“My expectations have been exceeded immensely: I thought I was going to receive an extension of undergraduate study," he said. "I learned that graduate study was a whole new experience, especially when you’re taking courses along with your peers. The graduate study program is designed so that you are not only a student, but also an instructor. Interaction with fellow professionals was the basis of the course design. I attended classes with vice-presidents, CEOs and other managers of surrounding businesses.”

The interaction of Native and non-Native business professionals benefitted all involved, offering students a look at how state, federal, international and tribal law govern Native enterprises, and how those laws sometimes conflict. Native enterprise provides all participating students firsthand experience of an international business model.

John Abraham will receive his degree at University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene commencement ceremonies Monday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Schuler Auditorium on the North Idaho College Campus.

The keynote address will be delivered by Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman Chief Allan.

Commencement offers John Abraham, and all students, a moment to look back on their personal journey, and celebrate another turn in the path.

For more information on University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene commencement, visit www.uidaho.edu/cda. For more information on the College of Business Integrated Business EMBA or MBA programs, visit www.uidaho.edu/cbe.aspx.