After more than two years of regularly commuting between Milwaukee and Chicago, graduate student Maggie Beckley is about to enjoy the payoff - an MBA degree with a concentration in Real Estate from Roosevelt University in Chicago.
Following graduation on Friday at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, there will be no more four-hour round trips twice a week on Amtrak, no more working evenings and on weekends to catch up at a full-time job in Milwaukee, and no more carefully scheduling ime just to ensure a bite to eat.
“When I look back and reflect, I don’t know how I did it,” said the scholar recipient of the Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate Initiative at Roosevelt’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate and a member of the winning Roosevelt student team that took first place in the prestigious Midwest Real Challenge in 2014.
“This degree is something I’ve wanted for a long time, and I just did what I needed to get it,” said Beckley, a senior financial analyst at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee who is aiming with her degree to move into the company’s property and real estate development and asset management division.
Beckley wanted to learn all she could about commercial real estate after Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath while she majored in finance, graduating in 2006, from Xavier University in New Orleans.
“I witnessed the devastation of the city and I also got to see people returning for its revitalization. It made me want to learn all I could and to be a part of the commercial real estate business,” said Beckley.
Returning home from New Orleans to Milwaukee and a full-time job at Aurora Health Care, Beckley began researching graduate real estate programs in the Midwest. Roosevelt’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate was her first choice, and she enrolled, receiving a scholarship through the Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate Initiative in the fall of 2013.
“The sheer persistence that she’s shown and the daily sacrifices that she’s had to make to get this degree are incredible,” said Jon B. DeVries, director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate.
Beckley regularly did her homework on a wireless laptop during her train rides. There were times, though, that she missed the train, leaving her to take a four-hour bus ride between Chicago and Milwaukee. On more than one occasion, she stayed overnight in Chicago at the homes of classmates.
“It takes a remarkable amount of commitment to do what she has done,” added DeVries. “She’s managed it with a high grade point average and even has taken extra classes to prepare herself for her transition into a career in real estate finance, management and brokerage.”
Beckley said she especially enjoyed the challenge because of the program’s focus on networking with real estate professionals and the opportunity as a Goldie scholar to work closely with a real estate professional and mentor.
“In an industry where people can become jaded, Maggie has been grateful, inquisitive and enthusiastic,” said Jeanne Peck, a loan originator with Berkadia, a mortgage brokerage firm in Chicago.
As Beckley’s mentor, Peck arranged informational interviews for the student with other real estate professionals. They had lunches and dinners together when Beckley was in Chicago for classes. Peck even traveled to Milwaukee to visit with her mentee, offering her advice in Peck’s area of expertise, which is real estate financing.
“At Berkadia we stress that tenacity is a big part of the picture, and I definitely have seen that in Maggie,” said Peck. “In spite of the sacrifices she’s had to make, Maggie has proven she could get this degree and that tells me that she can succeed at anything she puts her mind to.”
An active member with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and a volunteer with Christian Faith Fellowship Church Youth Ministry in Milwaukee, Beckley is most focused right now on walking across the stage of the Auditorium Theatre for her diploma.
“It’s a big moment that means everything to me. I’m a little nervous because all of the things I’ve done to get here are coming to an end,” she said. “I don’t know what’s next,” added Beckley, “but thanks to my Roosevelt experience, I know I am headed for something great.”