June 2, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
It was either Bakersfield or Northridge. The drive to either California State University campus was roughly the same amount of time for her – nearly two hours one-way. But in the end Cathi Cleveland chose Bakersfield.
On Saturday, June 10, Cleveland will graduate from CSUB's master of business administration program and will use her degree to help her ascend to new career heights at Edwards Air Force Base.
Cleveland resides halfway between Mojave and Rosamond and knew she'd have to commute to earn her degree. "I chose CSUB because of the smaller campus and class sizes," the 41-year-old said. "The professors are able to truly get to know their students and follow their progress through the program. The sense of community is very strong. Even as a relative ‘outsider,' being from outside Bakersfield, I was made welcome and treated as a valuable contributor.
"I spent two full years commuting three to four hours two to four times a week. That's a lot of time on the road. I can honestly say the time was well spent and will more than pay for itself in the knowledge, skills, and abilities I've gained in the CSUB MBA program."
Originally from Phoenix, Ariz., Cleveland began her federal government career in 1991 right after graduating with her bachelor's degree from CSU San Bernardino. The Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base recruited her through the Air Force Outstanding Scholar Program.
Cleveland is currently the director of business operations for the 95th Contracting Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base. She directs the planning and organization of the activities of the Contracting Squadron and exercises managerial authority to set long-range plans, goals, and objectives that integrate higher headquarter policies with local installation and squadron needs.
"When I was growing up I never dreamed of working for the government as an acquisition professional," Cleveland said. "The stars just aligned at a job fair at CSU San Bernardino, and here I am."
In addition, she leads and directs 43 contracting professionals assigned to construction, information technology, commodities and services, centralized performance management, and plans and programs flights. Cleveland added, "I am also responsible for the acquisition, management and administration of more than 1,500 contracts valued at more than $183 million for base installation and support, and I am the business advisor to the air base wing commander and the mission support group commander."
And the MBA program's outstanding student of the year feels she is making a difference. "I know that what I do everyday helps support the efforts of the world's premier flight test center. What I do makes it possible for the Air Force to test the future today. I am a part of history in the making. I enjoy the acquisition field because I am held responsible and accountable for ensuring the proper and efficient use of taxpayer resources. I must ensure that we are getting the best value for the federal government. At the same time, I must also ensure that the taxpayers' money is properly allocated and protected."
Cleveland's professional achievements are extensive. She has held positions as a cost/price analyst; contract specialist; chief, information resources/advanced data processing equipment acquisitions; chief, information technology mission area acquisition team; and policy chief. In addition, she holds an acquisition professional development program certificate level I in information technology and level III in contracting. She is also a certified federal contracts manager.
Cleveland is a member of Phi Kappa Phi – an all-discipline honor society and Omicron Delta Epsilon – an international honor society for economics.
She acknowledges what an asset her degree will be. "My degree will allow me to be more effective and efficient in leading my organization. I am also better able to implement the latest tools and practices in order to help the Air Force achieve its mission," Cleveland said.
"The best part about the CSUB MBA program is the diversity of its students and professors," she said. "Both bring with them an excellent cross section of public and private professional experience. This diversity allows for well-rounded learning because class discussions are multi-faceted. Another asset of the CSUB MBA program is its relatively small class sizes. Again, this provides for excellent group discussions."
And she's already seeing results of her hard work. "Based in part on my success in the program, I was recently selected for a senior leadership position. I plan to continue to climb the acquisition career ladder and join the senior executive service with the Air Force," Cleveland continued. "In addition, I'd like to expand my public speaking and relations role. I have found I have a calling for speaking publicly. I would only like to pursuit this calling if its purpose is to provide training and education to the audience."