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Student Spotlight: Zaviar Gooden

Zaviar Gooden and Family

“I think I’m just a natural leader,” says Zaviar Gooden, who played college and professional football before starting his sports and fitness training business. In partnership with his wife Alex, a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, Zaviar launched CRA-Z Sports and Fitness in September 2019. “We’re on a steady pace of growth,” he says of the company, where he brings his skills as a certified strength and conditioning specialist to athletes while Alex specializes in helping “everyday people that are just trying to have a healthy lifestyle.”

When we spoke in late 2020, Zaviar was happy to say he had completed two of the 12 courses required for his MBA. No stranger to hard work and self-discipline, Zaviar began ACU Online’s MBA program in August of 2020 while simultaneously growing his business and co-parenting 3-year-old Zaviar Jr. and 1-year-old Zaylon.

From NFL to MBA

Zaviar’s motivation and interest in business is longstanding. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he shares. “I was a Business Management major as an undergrad at the University of Missouri, so I always kind of had that itch to do it.”

When asked what he’s hoping to get out of an online MBA, Zaviar replies, “I always look to get better … There’s always more to learn. And I know when you’re in business, you can have a great product, but that’s not going to ensure that your business does well. It depends on how you operate it and how you manage it, and in the fine details behind the scenes, the daily decisions. I wanted to gain a little more knowledge about that … to give us the best chance of having longevity and being as successful as possible.”

Choosing ACU Online for his Master of Business Administration program

A 100%-online graduate program was important for Zaviar, and he valued the prestigious AACSB accreditation ACU Online’s program boasts. “I liked the format too, where you could just take one class at a time,” he adds. “I’m trying to run a business, so one class is a lot more doable than taking multiple at a time. I didn’t want to bite off any more than I could chew because I thought that would be counterproductive.”

Zaviar says of ACU, “It checked all the boxes of what I was looking for. And it also helps that it’s a Christian institution. I loved that it was in-state, as well.”

Zaviar’s experience as an ACU Online grad student

The faith-based curriculum at ACU “definitely met my needs spiritually,” Zaviar asserts, while also sharing that he attends a nearby Church of Christ. “I think it’s great how they actually incorporate our faith into a lot of the assignments. So, we have to talk about the ethical implications of the decisions that we’re analyzing. We also pray before every class that we join on Zoom.”

And how is he faring with the coursework? “It’s formatted very well and the instructions are very clear. If I ever have any questions, it’s easy to get access to the teacher or tutors online. And they give you an advisor that checks on you every two weeks and makes sure everything’s going well. If you need any help, they help you with that. You pretty much have every resource you need to be successful.”

Excitedly looking forward

With Leadership and Operations and Information Technology Management courses under his belt, Zaviar is finding the subject matter very relevant to his current business needs. He’s really looking forward to Strategic Marketing, and he’s “thinking about choosing the marketing concentration track because I think that’ll be most beneficial for our business.”

Zaviar is also eager to get into the Social Media Marketing class. “I think that’ll be very helpful for us because social media can really take you to the next level if you use it the right way. I don’t use social media much, so I’m terrible at that. I think that’s an area I can grow in and get better, and it can have a great impact on our business.”

“We’re a business that loves to help people,” Zaviar says of CRA-Z Sports and Fitness. “Growing up, I didn’t have the opportunity to learn from someone that made it to the top level. I would have loved that. I want to be able to give that to the young athletes in the community, help them accomplish their dreams and be the best they can be.”

Any advice for prospective MBA students?

Zaviar expects to complete his MBA program by August 2022. We ask the man who was a team captain in college with a natural knack for leading and inspiring if he has words of encouragement for those considering an online graduate program.

“I would just tell them ‘Now’s the time.’ I know for me, I actually thought about doing it maybe two years prior. And it was always something. ‘I’m trying to do this as well, so I’ll wait until this is over’—and then something else popped up. It’s always going to be something standing in your way. There’s always going to be a reason not to do it. So, you just got to go ahead and dive into it, jump into it. The sooner you start, the sooner you finish. Because a year from now, you’re going to wish you started today.”

Zaviar continues, “It’s going to be a great experience. You’re not going to regret it. You’re going to learn a ton. It’s definitely beneficial. And like I said, the format is great. You can plan out everything so you can work around your schedule. I encourage everyone to go ahead and tackle it.”

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  1. MBA Gateway says:

    It is amazing to hear this kind of stories. Best of the luck in your business Zaviar.

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