SPEARFISH | When the opportunity to become chief financial officer of Sentinel Credit Union came along, Dorothy Voorhees was ready, thanks to the masters in business administration degree she earned in 2017 from Black Hills State University-Rapid City.
Voorhees chose to attend BHSU rather than opting for an online MBA program because the BHSU business program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and the program was easily accessible.
"The class schedules at BHSU-Rapid City are convenient, set for adult learners with other commitments, and geared for busy, professional people,” she said.
A program that fit into Voorhees' schedule was key. She returned to get her MBA about 20 years after earning her bachelor’s degree from BHSU in 1992.
“Getting an MBA was something I always longed to do, and I knew the MBA would help me prepare for a position like this at the credit union,” Voorhees said. “I wanted to advance in my career, and I wanted that designation behind my name.”
Keith Robbennolt, chief executive officer of Sentinel Federal Credit Union, said Voorhees was the first person he hired when he became CEO of Sentinel 18 months ago. Voorhees is the first woman to hold the position of Sentinel's chief financial officer.
“The skills Dorothy learned in the graduate program at Black Hills State have proved invaluable to our organization. Her knowledge of financial information and operations have been a catalyst of propelling our organization forward,” Robbennolt said.
While completing her MBA, Voorhees was working a full-time job and was a single mother with two sons in high school.
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“I worked full-time and went to school at BHSU-Rapid City at night. I would come home after a long day and set down my textbooks and help one of sons with their schoolwork. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I knew the rewards would eventually pay off. My sons saw the commitment I made, and I feel they learned perseverance and determination by watching my experience. They were very proud of me,” Voorhees said.
Voorhees was chosen by her peers as the Outstanding MBA Graduate Student, and she was chosen for induction into the prestigious Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society connected with the university’s AACSB accreditation. “To be tapped for membership into Beta Gamma Sigma is an honor and privilege,” she said.
As chief financial officer at Sentinel, Voorhees is a member of the executive management team and is responsible for the financial actions of the credit union. Her duties include cash management, financial planning, and analyzing the credit union’s financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions. She also oversees the day-to-day operations, including Sentinel’s branches, tellers and call center, as well as ensuring ATMs and teller equipment are functioning well.
Voorhees began her journey at Black Hills State College in 1983. She began as an elementary education major but took a break from college, returning to complete an accounting and business administration degree in 1992. She said Black Hills State is in her blood. Three generations of her family have attended. Her father and uncle graduated from the school after World War II thanks to the G.I. Bill. Her brother and sister-in-law both worked for Black Hills State in the 1980s and 1990s.
Her oldest son attended BHSU while Voorhees was pursing her MBA. “It was enjoyable to attend college at the same time as my son,” she said.
After graduating from BHSU in 1992, Voorhees worked for a construction company in Rapid City as a controller, and then became accounting manager at a local credit union. With that segue into the financial industry, Voorhees knew she’d found her calling. She worked in the industry for 15 years and knew she would need advanced credentials to further her career.
“If you’ve thought about getting your MBA, go for it. Don’t hesitate,” Voorhees said. “It gave me additional skills and the preparation I needed to become a chief financial officer, not to mention the connections you make with your fellow students and the networking you build. If you’re living in Rapid City, the MBA program through Black Hills State is both convenient and a wonderful experience.”