The world has changed a lot over the past two years. From a global pandemic and stay-at-home orders to canceled events, people are just now finally getting back into the swing of “normal life.” For Roanna Valdellon, the last two years have been a mixed bag of chaos and excitement. Valdellon, who currently works in human resources in the sports industry, started her MBA program at Johnson & Wales University in 2019.
Since then, it has been a whirlwind.
“These past 17 months have been quite the adventure,” Valdellon said. “I got engaged a month after I started my first class. And working full-time in human resources and studying organizational psychology during a global pandemic provided me with both the challenge and opportunity that I anticipated pursuing an MBA — and it went above and beyond expectations!”
It was a Sign
Valdellon earned her associate’s degree in hotel management from Johnson & Wales University in 2003. She then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2005 from Baltimore International College (now called Stratford University). In 2019, Valdellon enrolled in the online MBA – Organizational Psychology program at JWU thanks to the university’s partnership with Delaware North. At the time, she was working in human resources for Amalie Arena, home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. When she saw the announcement about the tuition benefits the partnership promised her, she decided it was time to apply.
“I saw it as a sign to finally commit,” she said. “And when I transferred full-time roles from Delaware North to Vinik Sports Group, I negotiated my position to remain with DN as a part-time trainer so I could continue in the discount program.”
In 2019, Valdellon joined Vinik as a Human Resources Business Partner and continued supporting Amalie Arena and the Lighting’s HR initiatives. In her position, where she averages about 60 hours per week, she is responsible for the facilities and operations divisions, supporting the whole employee life cycle within the organization. After work, she would switch her work laptop for her personal laptop to get her schoolwork done. If the Lightning were playing, she’d tune in from her couch while finishing homework.
Becoming a Champion (And a Graduate)
In 2020, Valdellon realized a goal she never imagined possible: the Lightning won the Stanley Cup and she became a Stanley Cup champion.
“Every single event that we execute at Amalie Arena and the Yuengling Center is really remarkable,” she explained. “For the Lightning to put our world-class organization in the international spotlight for excellence makes all the hard work absolutely worth it.”
Completing the final course of her MBA program—much like winning a Stanley Cup—is an accomplishment, and Roanna couldn’t help but think about everyone that has helped her get here.
“My advisor, Harry Ryan, has been great. I was very impulsive with enrolling so I did not entirely grasp registrations and course loads,” she said. “Harry was fantastic and patient—even though he’s a Bruins fan!” In addition to her faculty members and JWU support team, Roanna said her family and friends have been the driving factor behind her success. “My fiancé is amazing in supporting me and I don’t think I could be successful without him.”
For someone who is considering going back to school, Roanna has a great piece of advice: “Choose a track that you have a genuine interest in. Don’t just check the box. So much of what I learned applies to what I practice.”
Now a graduate with an MBA with a concentration in Organizational Psychology, Roanna said she is the first in her family to earn an advanced degree. And her diploma is more than just a piece of paper—it’s proof of her expertise in the industry.
“It’s completely gratifying,” she said. “And it personally validates me as a professional. ‘Imposter syndrome’ is trending, but it has also been a reality for me throughout my career. I look forward to continuing the legendary streak the
Tampa Bay Lightning has established for us as an organization to positively impact our team, community, and industry.”
Want to learn more about earning your degree with Johnson & Wales University? For more information, complete the Request Info form, or call 855-JWU-1881.