While working full time, Cherrise Stephens also worked on earning her bachelor's degree, majoring in Management Information Systems and graduating in May 2017.
What major did you pursue and why?
I pursued a major in Management Information Systems. I like to stay current with the trends of system applications in the business world and society. This degree is a stepping stone for me to pursue my PMP Certification in Project Management. This major also compliments my strengths of being a team player/leader and problem solver.
Why did you choose the Belk College of Business/UNC Charlotte?
I heard so many great things about the academic program, as it is one of the best accredited undergraduate programs in the Charlotte area.
What was it like to work full time while pursuing your degree? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
It was very challenging. The experience forced me to be more disciplined in my studies due to the time constraints of working eight-hour days and sometimes more. As well as allocating enough time to my studies and staying up 24-plus hours some days, it was truly a sacrifice. I would take 2 or 3 classes per semester. After the first year, I realized I had to take on more classes if I wanted to hurry and graduate. I overcame these challenges in a few ways. I reached out to other students for assistance when needed. I worked for a company that practices work/life balance and allowed me the opportunity to go to school around my work schedule. I focused on my goal and recognized how far I had come, telling myself, "I'm almost there." And I received encouragement from my family and friends.
How would you describe your experience - and what advice would you have for others who are working and studying at the same time?
Overall the experience was worth it. There are many times I ask myself..."Why did I not finish college right after high school?" I do see benefits in waiting to go back now (although I would not recommend it). I am acclimated to the climate of the marketplace regarding current systems and applications (as MIS is my major). My advice to others is stay the course, no matter how long it takes you - it will be well worth the wait once you have accomplished this goal.
What activities are you involved in when not working or studying?
Hot yoga is my something that I love to do when I am not studying, as well as catching up with close friends.
What has been the best part of your academic experience so far?
The relationships that I have developed with students and teachers.
How would you describe the Belk College of Business to someone who is thinking about applying?
Expect to be challenged in your academic skills and stretched outside of your comfort zone in your personal life and as a student. It is worth the stretch. To quote Henry David Thoreau: "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."
What are your plans after graduation?
I am hoping to secure employment with a company that has a great culture and social responsibility. I am looking for a Jr. Project Management role in IT where I can apply the current skills I have gained as a Project Coordinator and learn more regarding IT and managing projects.