Event connects Black and Latinx students, alumni and business leaders

Belk College CONNECT
Thursday, March 31, 2022
The Belk College aims to make CONNECT an annual event.

A new Belk College of Business networking event is helping to connect the college’s Black and Latinx community.

Nearly 70 students, alumni and community partners attended CONNECT: Managing Career Development, held at the Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City on March 25. The mini-conference included a keynote, breakout sessions and a networking session.  

“The Belk College is committed to serving all students and creating an inclusive environment,” said Jennifer Troyer, Belk College dean. “Our goal for CONNECT is to provide a sense of community for our Black and Latinx students, while also connecting them to a diverse network of Business Niner alumni and community partners.” 

Nearly 25% of Belk College students are Black or Latinx. The college ranks among the top 50 producers of bachelor’s degrees for Black graduates in the nation in finance, accounting and marketing. Undergraduate Latinx enrollment at the Belk College is up 166% over the past decade.

During his keynote speech, Elliott Bryant ‘85, senior vice president and general manager of the Classic Client Solution business unit at Allscripts Health, shared his journey from a first-generation college student from Supply, to becoming UNC Charlotte’s student body president.

“I was considered financially poor, but my dad was always quick to remind us that ‘our income need not determine our outcome,’ ” said Bryant, who serves as vice chair of the Belk College Board of Advisors. “I received an exceptional education at UNC Charlotte. It is perhaps one of the University’s greatest assets to have the innate ability to educate the whole person at all levels of their development.”

The goal is for CONNECT to become an annual event, Troyer said. 

Breakout speakers for the event were: 

  • Personal Brand: Amparo Quispe-Velasquez '13, '21 MBA DSBA, finance manager with Bank of America; and Nicole Benford '05 MACC, founder of Benford Financial Solutions, LLC

  • Pay and Benefit Negotiation: Tierra Adams '08, human resources consultant with Corning; and Rebecca Edwards, owner of Infinite HR of Charlotte. 

Two students who attended also received $1,000 scholarships: Tyler Bacote, a master’s in management student, and Natalia Herrera, a pre-economics major. 

Troyer said the Board of Advisors Subcommittee on Diversity provided the vision for the event. The event also was supported by the Belk College Joint Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, by the Niblock Student Center Peer Guide program, and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) campus chapter. 

Belk College Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 


CONNECT is part of a larger DEI initiative that was launched by Dean Troyer in summer 2020 in the wake of the international conversation around racial injustice. 

The initiative has focused on several areas, including:

  • A collegewide DEI climate survey.

  • The development of a Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for faculty and staff.

  • Two new DEI subcommittees for the Belk College Board of Advisors to identify and recruit adjunct faculty from underrepresented groups, and to better serve our underrepresented students.

  • The establishment of the Dean’s Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, an annual award to recognize faculty and staff for their commitment to fostering an inclusive environment in which diversity is understood, valued, respected and supported.

  • Adding strengthening diversity as one of the top five goals within the college’s recently adopted five-year strategic plan.

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