The first class of twenty eight M.S. in Management graduate students gathered on June 28 for orientation, embarking upon a 10 ½ month journey to their advanced degree. These students bring varied disciplines and bachelor degrees, from engineering to communications. The only undergraduate degree not represented is business, as this program is intentionally designed to provide business skills to non-business majors. The students even come from a broad list of geographic locations and undergraduate universities, from Ottawa to India to UNC Charlotte.
Many were curious how the day might unfold with such a broad set of skills and backgrounds. Would these students blend together and find a common ground?
Orientation began as you might expect: students were greeted by Program Director, Dr. Carol Stivender, with a thorough review of program expectations and course preview. However, it began to take a turn from the standard program overview when Belk College staff, including Sabrina Brown, Assistant Director, and Solange Tricanowicz and Robin Boswell, Employer Relations and Career and Professional Development, unveiled some of the unique benefits to which these students would be privileged. The staff presented an array of opportunities, including discipline-based alumni panels, interview training sessions, a complimentary professional photography session and even a style consultant.
Next on the agenda, the students enjoyed a presentation that took the orientation to a higher level: the keynote speaker, DeAndrea Salvador, Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit organization Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI). Ms. Salvador, a Belk College of Business alumna and TED Fellow, shared with the students how she found her own professional passion through her personal background. This, together with her perseverance, skills and focus, resulted in RETI, which aims to sustainably decrease the energy costs of low income families. Her journey exhibited that one simply needs to bring passion and purpose to their goals in order to make a significant impact.
Ms. Salvador shared about both her RETI organization and its goals, as well as her own experience delivering a TED talk. She may not have even realized that one of her casual remarks may have made a life-changing realization on some of the students, “You could also deliver a TED talk - you just need to define your passion and articulate your purpose.”
Throughout this exclusive discussion with the students, it became apparent that student minds were making connections between undergraduate disciplines, career dreams, and the desire to make a difference. Ms. Salvador explained that she paired her business skills with her driving purpose, which allowed her to leave a positive footprint on the community at a macro level. In doing so, her presentation eloquently impacted these students, each on a micro scale.
The day-long orientation ended with a new energy coursing through the veins of this cohort, new connections between individuals, and no doubt a fresh perspective on their own professional purpose. Time will tell what impact this cohort will make.
In the meantime, however, these students are embarking into a new world of regression analysis, accrual accounting, and audience-based advertising. Congratulations to this inaugural cohort for a successful start to the M.S. in Management!