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(Ashland, Ore.) – The Southern Oregon University School of Business will celebrate the first three graduates from its 3|4 + 1 Pathway to MBA Program – also known as the Accelerated Pathway to MBA – at SOU’s June 15 commencement ceremony.

“This is an opportunity for high-achieving students to fast-track their academic experiences and get a head start on their careers,” said SOU business professor Rene Ordonez, Ph.D., coordinator of the university’s graduate programs in business. “Participants will graduate and enter the workforce as holders of full MBAs.”

The three inaugural graduates in the accelerated MBA program are Cassie Preskenis, Marcus Allen and Tess Homier. Both Preskenis and Allen will also receive their bachelor’s degrees this month in SOU’s Innovation and Leadership program, and Homier will earn her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting.

Each of the three have excelled in their undergraduate studies and also taken on the challenge of graduate-level coursework.

“When my new job required a degree, the 3+1 program was the perfect fit,” Allen said. “The class schedule fit my work requirements, and the ability to complete my master’s simultaneously was a huge benefit. I met an amazing group of students from all walks of life, and the education has set me up for success in the next phase of my career.”

The initiative allows undergraduate students pursuing degrees in four specific academic areas – BusinessInnovation and LeadershipMusic and Theater – to earn their bachelor’s and MBA degrees concurrently in as little as four years, saving both time and money. It is an example of SOU’s commitment to providing innovative and accessible education.

“We are all incredibly proud of this ground-breaking new concept, and take our hats off to our first cohort of graduates,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “Our gratitude goes out to our superstar faculty in the School of Business for creating this exciting pathway, and to the graduates who are starting an exciting tradition here at SOU.”

The Accelerated Pathway to MBA Program, launched in fall 2022, was developed by Ordonez and professor Joan McBee of the SOU School of Business. Their vision was to address growing concerns over rising tuition costs and the barriers faced by students seeking advanced degrees.

The program allows senior undergraduate students from the four select academic programs to take graduate-level courses that count toward both undergraduate and graduate degree requirements, effectively reducing both the time and cost needed to obtain two degrees.

Under the “3+1” option, students participating in SOU’s existing three-year undergraduate programs – the Accelerated Baccalaureate (AccBacc) or the Jackson/Josephine Pledge (JackJo) – can complete the MBA by extending to a fourth year. The “4+1” provides an option for students in the traditional four-year undergraduate programs, who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA by the start of their senior year, to complete the MBA degree in a fifth year.

“Upon entering the Innovation and Leadership (INL) program at SOU, I harbored doubts about my academic prowess, having been away from college for two decades,” Preskenis said. “Yet, I found a comfortable niche within the non-traditional INL program, surrounded by peers who – like me –brought diverse professional experiences to the table.

“When the chance to pursue my master’s degree alongside my bachelor’s emerged, I couldn’t resist. The journey has proven immensely fulfilling and remarkably enjoyable, culminating in the completion of both degrees at SOU.”

The accelerated MBA program has gained traction since its inception two years ago among students eager to fast-track their education and reduce expenses.

Preskenis, Allen and Homier will join 79 regular MBA graduates at SOU’s annual pre-commencement “MBA Hooding Ceremony” at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 14, at the Music Recital Hall. Media and community members are welcome to attend the hooding ceremony – a special recognition for graduate students who have completed their degree requirements.

Those seeking more information on SOU’s Accelerated MBA program may contact Ordonez at or (541) 552-6720, or MBA coordinator Douglas Daley, Jr., at or (541) 552-8113.