Student Athlete tackles MBA Program by Evan Shirreffs

Beginning A New Challenge

It was the spring of my final year at the University of Miami. With graduation looming as a bittersweet moment only a few months away, I was left with two options: start my career in the real world or pursue an MBA with my last two years of eligibility in football. While both choices fostered great upsides, I chose to pursue my MBA as it became apparent that football was too large a part of my life to let go of. Thus, I began my search for the ideal university to meet my needs.

I struck gold when I came across the campus of UNC Charlotte, a school that I knew little about despite being only three hours from home back in Georgia. A quick drive up I-85 told me all that I needed to know; I had found my new home in this not too big, not too small city.

Situated in the Queen City, UNC Charlotte and its subsequent location proved to have everything I was looking for. An up and coming football team with all of the potential to become a nationally-known program, a flexible MBA program that paired well with the demanding hours of football, and a lively Uptown area filled with endless possibilities for young professionals looking to succeed in business.

 

Starting Anew

After committing to Charlotte, questions began to build surrounding my upcoming experience as an MBA student. What would it be like to start all over again in a new city? Would the classes be as taxing as undergrad? What would my classmates be like? As the questions swirled, so did my own answers in the form of expectations. To ease my tensions, I told myself it was just some more school; it would be the same as high school and undergrad. Although I was somewhat right, most of my expectations were far from reality.

As time passed in the MBA program, I realized how it differed from undergrad studies. Classes actually encompassed learning and growing instead of memorization and repetition. I began to soak up information from not just my professors, but other students in my classes. All of my classes were filled with people older than me by 5, 10, and sometimes 20 years. As intimidating as this seemed at first, it could not have been any better for my development.

Despite my lack of traditional professional experience, I was lucky enough to hear the real-life experience of all of my classmates who already had years of experience in various fields: engineering, entrepreneurship, music, healthcare, you name it. Everyone seemed to have a unique story and everyone seemed to think differently. Mixers, guest speaker, and other MBA events soon became regular parts of my schedule to meet people and build friendships.

 

Becoming Situated

Comfort came in accepting the different perspectives of my peers. They enjoyed my young optimism; I enjoyed their experienced pessimism. I was often able to learn what not to do without having to experience some of the rock-bottom stories shared by my peers.

Do not get me wrong, moving to a new place and essentially starting over is one of the hardest things to go through in life, but luckily, I have been able to realize the magnitude of the impact this move has had on my future. As I thought the new school and city could not get any better, an unexpected cherry was placed on top of an already promising experience.

 

Seeing the World

Throughout undergrad, I had dreamed of studying abroad, but with football occupying my time and energy, this merely remained a dream. Charlotte turned this into a reality when I got a random email about a trip to Europe during winter break. It was a two-week seminar course in Lyon, France during the only time of the year that I had off from football. It truly put into perspective the great opportunity I had seized in packing up from a promising future in Miami to move to an up and coming program at Charlotte. The Queen City has proved to have everything I was searching for in a school, football team, social life, business opportunity, and unexpected fruition of my dreams.

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