When did you graduate and what was your major?
I graduated in the Spring of 2003 with a BSBA in International Business.
What kinds of opportunities did you have at UNC Charlotte, such as membership in student groups, sports played, internships, study-abroad?
In addition to studying abroad for a semester in a Spanish language intensive program in Costa Rica with Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA) in the spring of 2001, I also participated in several internships throughout my college career. As a member of INROADs, a program dedicated to developing diverse talent and increasing their access to corporate opportunities, I interned at the Mecklenburg County Bar Association. As a recipient of the Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund, I interned at Hunton & Williams Law Firm, the Legal Department of the Charlotte Housing Authority. I also held an internship at First Union and Wachovia (both now Wells Fargo) and BB&T.
Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
Initially, after participating in Project Uplift as a rising high school senior, I attended UNC Chapel Hill my freshman year. But after taking on a bit too much my first semester with a full course load, work-study, and joining the Men’s Track Team, my grades weren’t in the best shape. In high school I was in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program where there was hyper-focus on academic success. To not perform well my first semester was culture shock. After track season was over and the second semester came to an end, I decided to transfer to UNC Charlotte. My plan was to stay one semester, focus solely on my academics and pick back up at UNC Chapel Hill. However, after consecutively making the Chancellor’s List and the Dean’s list my first two semesters, I knew that academically, UNC Charlotte was a better fit for me.
What was the best part of your Belk College experience?
The best part of my Belk College experience was participating in the Business Honors Program (BHP). In many ways, it was a lot like my International Baccalaureate (IB) Program from high school. The classes were more challenging, but the class sizes were smaller, which made for a more intimate learning environment and fostered a true connection among peers and instructors. Dr. Jack Hogue, who would go on to become an informal mentor to me, talked me into applying for BHP and it was an extremely rewarding experience.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first “real” job after graduation was at Northwestern Mutual near Southpark Mall. I obtained my North Carolina Life, Accident, and Health Insurance License and helped our portfolio manager with client meetings, streamlining application data entry, and generating investment proposals.
What is your current role?
I’m currently a Senior Compliance Associate at TIAA, specializing in data privacy and identity theft. My current focus is in compliance testing and ensuring regulatory adherence while simultaneously helping the firm embrace innovation and capitalize on technological advances. I currently hold Series 6 and 63 securities registrations, a North Carolina Life, Accident, and Health Insurance License, and a Certified Information Privacy Professional / US Private Sector (CIPP/US) designation from the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
I’m also co-owner of several businesses, including the award-winning Charlotte-based lifestyle brand, 704 Shop, where my primary responsibilities include business strategy, sales, and expanding business relationships and brand visibility, and V (Five) Lions Entertainment, an artist booking and upscale event planning company.
What did you learn in the Belk College that has best prepared you for your career?
Aside from the functional business skills, which I’ve had to use at various points in my professional, and especially my entrepreneurial career, the most important thing I learned in the Belk College was that personal connections matter. Not only is it important to have an impressive academic profile, but it’s equally imperative to build social equity with individuals in the industry that you wish to pursue. Having advocates is vital and pays dividends at every stage of your career.
What is the importance of giving back to you in terms of time, talent or treasures?
We should all want for our systems and institutions to empower, not disenfranchise. But the reality is that we have decades upon decades of systemic, programmatic biases to remove before this can be a reality for many in our communities. Until we get to that point, each of us, as individual or corporate citizens, has a role to play in uplifting our neighborhoods and the people within them, through service or philanthropy.
Giving back is part of the fabric of my being. The experience of growing up in public housing with meager financial means helped me understand that economic opportunity is not equally distributed and that people’s circumstances often are not the product of their own decisions or doing. To this day, this plays a significant role in how I see and perceive the world. Though the region is one of the fastest growing in the country, Charlotte ranked last in an analysis of economic mobility in America’s 50 largest cities completed by a team of researchers out of Harvard, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley. Children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution in Charlotte had just a 4.4 percent chance of making it to the top 20 percent of the income distribution. Given these statistics, sometimes I feel lucky to be where I am today. So to try to turn the tide for others, I’ve coordinated annual food drives for underserved families living in public housing and participated in countless other volunteer efforts with various local non-profit organizations that are literally changing and saving lives every day. Recently I started a scholarship at UNC Charlotte, the Jaylen C. Moxley Scholarship for Academic Excellence, named after my son, for incoming freshmen with both significant financial need and a history of volunteerism. I wanted to reward students that have very little, but have still found a way to give of themselves. I started this scholarship because academics, both high school and collegiate, were the stepping stones that changed the trajectory of my life. And I could not have done it without financial assistance. It’s important to me that other students have those same stepping stones. If we all pay it forward, and pass along our “stones,” eventually we can build bridges.
What does it mean to receive the 2018 Belk College Distinguished Young Alumni Award?
Receiving any award from the Belk College is considered the gold standard, in my opinion. So it’s an enormous honor to receive this award. I know that Dr. Hogue would be especially proud and is smiling down, celebrating with me.
Anything else you’d like to say about UNC Charlotte or the Belk College of Business?
Those of you that are fairly close to the University know that it’s a very exciting time in the school’s history. With so much physical and academic expansion coupled with the connection of the light rail to campus, UNC Charlotte is set to accomplish so much over the near term, and the Belk College is leading the way. There hasn’t been a better time for alumni and students alike to get connected like you never have before!