Student studies long-distance for master's degree

M.B.A. student commutes from Florida to finish her graduate degree at Williams College of Business | May 13, 2004

Diana Stoppielo now hails from Florida, but the M.B.A. she picks up Saturday comes directly from Xavier.

Though she and her husband moved from the Cincinnati area to Naples in 2000, Stoppielo was determined to get her master’s degree from Xavier. Not even a car accident in 2002 that broke both legs could stop her.

Stoppielo has completed three online courses and commuted to Xavier for certain classes offered only one weekend at a time that were crucial for attaining her degree. The Williams College of Business is the only college at Xavier that offers online courses.

“I truly came to love the online classes and have taken as many as possible,” Stoppielo said. “It was a very good learning experience for me and helped me regain confidence. I found I could contribute in ways that I might not otherwise do in classroom settings.”

Stoppielo and her husband moved to Naples when he retired. Having attended high school in Mason and graduated from Cincinnati’s College of Mount St. Joseph in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she was familiar with Cincinnati and “chose Xavier because it has such a fine reputation and is well-established.”

But the accident set her back, putting her in a wheelchair for more than a year. She was unable to walk.

“During that time I contacted Jennifer Bush to see if there were any options available for me since I very much wanted to use my brain,” Stoppielo said. Bush, the director of enrollment at the business school, developed a program for Stoppielo to complete her degree by completing courses on the Internet, and attending weekend and summer classes on campus.

“Online classes were key to Diana coming back. That was my goal in helping her because she was limited by location,” Bush said.

Without support from her family and the counseling from Bush, Stoppielo says that attaining her degree would not have been possible.

“She’s just phenomenal,” Bush said. “It’s easy to stop your M.B.A. at any time because life has a way of diverting your attention. But for her to be gone for that length of time just proves how committed Diana was toward getting her degree. We’re lucky to have her.”

Stoppielo’s legs have since healed, and she hopes eventually to teach at Ave Maria University, located near her home in Naples. Right now, however, Stoppielo is making sure to enjoy her moment. “As for my future plans, I’m not sure, I’m just taking things slow to see where I might fit in,” Stoppielo said.