Map of Phoenix area used in MRED classes

Master of real estate development program encourages connections between students, faculty, community

Being an alum of the W. P. Carey School of Business means being part of a community for life. Graduates of the Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program confirm that the connections you form in school are just the beginning.
Kasey McNerney

Being an alum of the W. P. Carey School of Business means being part of a community for life. Graduates of the Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program confirm that the connections you form in school are just the beginning.

"It's cliche, but [my favorite part of the program] is the relationships formed," says alumnus Kolby Smith (MRED '23), who is currently the development and construction manager at Phoenix-based Holualoa Companies, a private equity real estate investment firm.

"My class was fairly small, we had 21 students. I'm probably in contact with ten of them on a weekly basis. I work with several of them in some capacity," he says. "You really start to feel that real estate is a lifetime endeavor."

Building relationships

MRED students working together in class

"One of the most important parts of the program isn't just what we talk to the students about in the classroom or in lectures, but it's the relationships that they build with other students and faculty," says MRED Executive Director Mark Stapp.

The close-knit community of MRED faculty, students, and alumni reflects an industry where connections with others are vital to one's success. "It's a relationship driven business," says Stapp. "As a consequence, we run the program around establishing those important relationships."

Class sizes are small. Scheduling is a block-class, cohort model where all students are doing the same thing at the same time in the same place. This makes the MRED program a shared experience and an intimate learning environment where students truly get to know one another, as well as faculty and other real estate professionals who are part of the program.

This environment allows bonds to form that transcend the classroom, creating both lifelong friendships and professional networks that continue to expand after graduation.

"I'm really happy to say that I've only had to have a couple of jobs since I graduated from the program, and I've never had a regular interview process," says alumna Tina Kelty (MRED '11), who currently works as an associate vice president and designated broker at Garrett Development Corporation. "I've just been able to know people through the industry or meet other people through my industry connections and get job recommendations. I've been able to land in these great positions, which I'm really happy about. I've also used my position to hire MRED students."

Along with the faculty and alumni of MRED, as well as the greater W. P. Carey community, the program provides students with opportunities to meet and be a part of countless professional organizations for further networking and job searching.

Stapp says the goal of MRED is the success of its students, so he and other faculty members help students foster and nurture the relationships that will help them succeed in their career: with faculty mentors, with real estate professionals, and with their fellow students and alums.

Working together

Students work closely with each other on synthesis projects, giving them hands-on experience in collaboration, team-building, and problem solving. Students work on applied projects from orientation through their last day in the program — they are never without an applied project that comes from the industry.

"I think it was [my favorite class assignment] because it allowed an opportunity to do a deep dive into various aspects of a project, and everyone could bring their strengths to the table," says alumna Kimberly Morey (MRED '20), who herself has a background in law and currently works as an associate legal counsel for Mattamy Homes.

The transdisciplinary format of the program mirrors the way real estate development brings together subject matter experts of many kinds. Four different schools at ASU — the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the Del E. Webb School of Construction — take part in the MRED program so graduates are well rounded.

"From my experience, having worked in real estate in various different capacities, you will use any and all of that at some point in your career and in various different transactions," says Morey.

The MRED at W. P. Carey is deeply connected to the real estate community in Arizona and beyond. Students learn from faculty who have been a part of the industry for decades and have connections with companies and professional organizations. The community aspect of real estate is emphasized every step of the way.

"It's not just being in the program, it's sharing your experiences while you're in the program," says alumnus Waseem Hamadeh (MRED '12). "It's being open to everyone else's experiences, their knowledge, their expertise in whatever field they're in, and building relationships with all your professors."

He adds, "You have mentors as your faculty, and then you turn those mentors into friendships, and you start building real relationships with your professors and other people in your group."

Coming back as alumni

MRED alumni at the annual Monopoly Night event

The sense of connection and community continues after students graduate through the ASU MRED Alumni Association, which encourages graduates to stay connected with their peers and with the program itself.

The MRED alumni chapter provides professional development and networking opportunities for MRED graduates while also providing an outlet for alumni to give back to the program, W. P. Carey, and future students. Stapp describes it as "an organization that is created specifically to not only support them as professionals, but to continue to support the program itself."

Events like the annual MRED Monopoly Night are a chance for alumni to reminisce with their old classmates, visit faculty and mentors, and play the classic board game, all while raising money for the MRED Alumni Association Scholarship fund for future students.

"It's a representation of the experience they had in the program, their willingness to continue to come back and support what we're doing," says Stapp. "To me, that's the most important aspect. Not only did [the alumni] get an education and a degree, but it links them back to the program and they feel emotionally connected to it and support what we're doing."

Alumni cite the positive experiences they had with faculty, classmates, and others at W. P. Carey as having a strong impact on their careers and their lives, which keeps them coming back to engage.

"It was fulfilling in that it gave me the opportunity to participate with others who wanted to be more deeply involved in our community," says alumna Denise Christensen (MRED '15). "It was absolutely worth it. I made a phenomenal number of lifelong friends. I was able to connect with those in the industry that have been building in Phoenix for decades. It was definitely everything that I was looking for."

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