Cap, gown, blue shirt: Employee gets surprise graduation at Best Buy

Steven Donley was excited to receive his master’s degree, but he didn’t expect it to happen during his shift at a Best Buy store.

Steven, a supervisor at the Best Buy in Marquette, Michigan, had opted not to go to his graduation ceremony at Northern Michigan University (NMU) last month so that three of his employees — and fellow graduates — could attend the same event instead.

“I know my general manager would have let me go if asked, but it was their first time being able to do something like this, whereas I already had my bachelor’s, so I didn’t feel like it was 100 percent necessary for me to be there, especially if it meant other people could,” he said. “Plus, a Saturday in December is pretty busy around here.”

School administrators caught wind of Steven’s decision, and they decided to bring his graduation to the store. They worked with his general manager to make it a surprise.

The Thursday before commencement, Steven was asked to do paperwork in the office. He then got a call to help a customer on the sales floor. When he walked out, he was greeted by NMU President Fritz Erickson, College of Business Interim Dean Carol Johnson, professor Gary Brunswick, friends and even local news crews.

“You can’t print the words that were going through my mind,” Steven said. “I was very surprised. I was also slightly scared because I saw camera crews and all those people. But once I got over that, I realized this was super cool that my professors went out of their way to do that. I was proud.”

And the store was a fitting location for the ceremony. When he submitted his MBA portfolio, it included a marketing plan for Best Buy. The plan analyzed the company’s strategy and made recommendations for improvements.

So, now that Steven has his master’s, what’s next?

“My plan is to get more proficient in my new role as a new front-end supervisor,” he said. “Then I’m going to look more closely at doing an assistant manager role or even a corporate one.”

 

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