14:13 PM

MBA Offers Alumna Ticket to Success at Museum of Natural Science

On any given day, Angel Hernandez-DeLeon might walk past dinosaur bones, rare gems or Egyptian artifacts on her way to the office. Such scenery is just one of the many benefits of working at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS).

Of course, Hernandez-DeLeon has experienced countless scientific wonders at the museum. After all, she's worked there for 19 years. She started as a part-time ticket attendant and usher at museum's Wortham Theatre and now serves as HMNS vice president for Human Resources and Building Operations. Her professional resolve and commitment helped her rise through the museum's ranks. She also credits her success to her degrees from the University of Houston-Downtown's (UHD) Marilyn Davies College of Business.

"Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees helped me personally and professionally," she said. "I am grateful to UHD for helping me get to this point in my career."

The Houston native grew up in the city's Northside. After graduating from Sam Houston High School, she made her way to UHD. Selecting the University as the next step in her academic journey was an easy decision for Hernandez-DeLeon. Her siblings attended UHD and the institution was close to home.

Majoring in management at the Davies College of Business, she took the "scenic route" to complete her bachelor's degree. Between juggling work, classes and starting a family, Hernandez-DeLeon was undaunted.

"It was a long road," she said. "But, I stuck with it and am glad I did."

After earning her bachelor's degree, she was inspired to continue her studies in the University's Master of Business Administration program. Hernandez-DeLeon remained busy as a mother, wife and professional, but she found an overwhelming support system from the Davies College of Business.

"People were there to help you, and the classes were extremely flexible. There were offerings in the evening or on the weekends. That flexibility was invaluable," she said. "What helped me the most, however, was that I was in class with working students like myself. They knew the struggle of balancing a job with school, and how to make the most of their time in the classroom. The small classes also were a big plus."

The smaller classes allowed Hernandez-DeLeon to connect with faculty, including Dr. Kevin Barksdale, associate dean of the Davies College; Dr. Whitney Morgan, associate professor; Dr. Douglas teDuits, assistant professor; Dr. Gail Evans, professor; and Dr. Sarah Walker, associate professor. She also acknowledges the team-taught course format that included faculty members and Davies Corporate Fellows as a benefit to the program.

Faculty and Fellows aside, Hernandez-DeLeon is grateful to her family for serving as cheerleaders during her time at UHD. Her husband Arturo DeLeon, and children A.J., Adam and baby Ally provided motivation during those times when balancing classes and career seemed overwhelming. She also is grateful for the support of her parents Jose and Margarita Hernandez.

Regardless of any tough times, Hernandez-DeLeon emerged with an MBA and continues to work among wondrous exhibits and educational initiatives at HMNS.

In January, she was promoted to her current position of vice president of Human Resources and Building Operations. In this role, she oversees museum operations, including its buildings, facilities, systems, and frontline operations. She also leads staff development and team building initiatives at the museum to ensure proper operational controls, procedures, and structures are in place.

"I couldn't imagine not working here," she said.

To those undergraduate students seeking to advance their skills in UHD's MBA Program, she offers this advice:

"Just do it," she said. "The structure of the classes and the program allows you to maximize what you get out of it—in just two years. You come out of the program with a professional network and new skills. If you want to grow in your career, this is the degree for you. It gives you an edge and helps you go above and beyond to reach your goals. It can be hard, but anything worth doing will be challenging at times. Don't give up and don't become overwhelmed. In the end, you will be a better professional after completing this degree."