Recap: Spring Commencement 2023

Spring Commencement 2023
Friday, June 2, 2023
More than 860 #BusinessNiners earned their degrees during spring commencement.

More than 860 Belk College of Business students earned graduate and undergraduate degrees and graduate certificates during spring commencement ceremonies at Dale F. Halton Arena on Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13, 2023. Overall, Charlotte conferred more than 5,300 degrees and graduate certificates. The ceremonies were recorded, and the commencement program can be downloaded.

#BusinessNiner Campbell Medders, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Summa Cum Laude, and a minor in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, shared her story from the stage, as the student chosen to bring greetings on May 13. 

#BusinessNiner Campbell Medders

In her youth, Medders imagined herself as a teacher, or perhaps President of the United States — or even a makeup artist, as she was drawn to so many things. Later, she considered pursuing a law degree and even took the LSAT.

"It wasn’t until I sat down and asked myself what I wanted out of a career that my decision became clear," Medders said. "I wanted to make an impact and improve the lives of others by doing something that I am good at." She found her opportunity to grow at UNC Charlotte and in the Belk College.

"Everyone should take pride in the resilience they possess and have proven by sitting here with us today," she said. "Whatever paths we go down next, I am confident that we will take this resilience with us and achieve more than we ever knew we could."

"We in the Belk College of Business are so impressed by our graduates," said Belk College Dean Jennifer Troyer. "We are confident you will accomplish great things, just as you have done in your time with us, each of you in your own unique way. We welcome you into our Business Niner alumni network, and we look forward to celebrating your future successes."

Stay connected with the Belk College of Business

Class of 2023 by the numbers

  • Undergraduate: 698
  • Master's: 138
  • Doctorate (DBA): 16
  • Ph.D.: 1
  • Certificates: 9

Student Spotlights

Each student who graduated this spring has a unique and exciting story. Here are just a few of those stories.

Bryan Ramirez-Padilla

Bryan Ramirez-Padilla

  • Major: Accounting; First Niblock Scholar to graduate.
  • Post-graduation plans: I will be going on summer vacation to Puerto Rico and Mexico. I will move to Seattle in August to work for a two-year term with the Amazon Financial Rotation Program.
  • Favorite Belk College of Business memory: I appreciate the staff member who put me on game with internships and networking.

Kevin Briones-Tristan

  • Major: Finance, Finance concentration
  • Post graduation plans: Immediately after graduation, I'm going to celebrate like it's 1999. God willing, in July I am planning on moving to New York City to start my career in sales and trading for Citi.
  • Favorite Belk College of Business memory: My favorite memory is the freshman year Business Honors Program retreat. I met a great friend and mentor, Adonis Abdullah, who would introduce me to career opportunities on Wall Street. I was originally bummed because that weekend of the retreat was when we played Clemson in football. Let's just say the game was worth missing.

Kevin Briones-Tristan

Bridget Summerlee

Bridget Summerlee

  • Major: Business Analytics
  • Post graduation plans: After graduation, I’ll be enjoying my last summer of freedom visiting Italy and spending time at home with family before I start my full-time job. I’ll be working remotely with Kohl’s as a marketing strategy coordinator! Charlotte has become my home and I’m excited to begin my post-grad life here.
  • Favorite Belk College of Business memory: I will always cherish the people I met and the friendships I made from joining student organizations like Alpha Kappa Psi, working with the advising team, collaborating on class projects, and being in the Business Honors Program. I’m so thankful to have learned so much from the people around me. They have truly made my college experience unforgettable.

Donna Thompson

  • Major: Finance, Finance and Accounting concentration
  • Post graduation plans: I am taking time to travel this summer before starting as a Global Treasury Analyst at Bank of America.
  • Favorite Belk College of Business memory: My favorite memory from the Belk College of Business would have to be having the same classes with so many people throughout my time in the program, which allowed me to make friends with other #BusinessNiners!

Donna Thompson

Joe Buckley

Joseph Buckley

  • Degree: Master of Business Administration
  • Post graduation plans: After graduating, I plan to spend quality time with family.
  • Favorite Belk College of Business memory: I have a ton of great memories and learning. Dr. (John) Tuders' class is one I will never forget. The class was really fun and informative. His delivery is one of a kind!

Jacquie Spearman

  • Degree: Master of Business Administration, Concentration: Innovation & Growth Strategies
  • Post-graduation plans: I am excited to embark on the next chapter of my career as I have been promoted to a director-level role within my organization. This opportunity allows me to leverage my MBA education from UNC Charlotte and drive meaningful change in my company. Also not doing homework in the evenings sounds nice!
  • Favorite Belk College of Business memory: One of my favorite memories from the Belk College of Business would be the hands-on experience I gained in the "Design and Innovation" course. This class provided a unique opportunity to think outside the box and collaborate with my classmates on innovative projects, pushing the boundaries of conventional thinking. I particularly enjoyed the final project, where we were challenged to develop a creative solution for a real-world problem. Not only did this experience deepen my understanding of the importance of design and innovation in today's business landscape, but it also fostered lasting connections with my classmates who were so creative and bright.

Jacquie Spearman

Highlights and Milestones

This spring’s commencement marked an important milestone for the Master of Business Administration program, which celebrated one of its largest classes of 88 graduates, more than double the number of graduates from just two years ago. UNC Charlotte’s part-time MBA ranks No. 1 among North Carolina-based public universities and among the top 15% of ranked programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023-24 Best Graduate Schools rankings, which were released on April 25. The College launched its online MBA program in August 2022.

The Doctor of Business Administration program also has seen success, graduating 16 students. One scholar, Rita Winborne took on "Blockchain and the Transformation of Inequitable Markets" for her dissertation, working with mentor Sunil Erevelles. In her dissertation, she examined the use of blockchain technology in marketing. She also considered the issue of markets being inherently inequitable and how blockchain could help disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers gain more opportunity to achieve prosperity. Winborne and Erevelles also will present a paper, "Genomics Big Data and Blockchains: Cultivated Pools," at the INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) research conference in Toronto, Canada, in July 2023. Winborne also was selected for the American Marketing Association Doctoral Student Consortium in Oslo, Norway, in June 2023 and to represent UNC Charlotte at the Marketing Management Association Doctoral Student Consortium in Orlando, Fla., in September 2023. 

Tiera Tavonna Ray served as bellringer for the afternoon commencement ceremony Saturday, May 13. Ray received a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Belk College of Business and a minor in Africana Studies. She also received the Chancellor’s Citation for Leadership and Service. The bell ringer performs the longstanding tradition of ringing the Charlotte "victory bell," which was gifted to UNC Charlotte founder Bonnie E. Cone in 1961 when Charlotte College moved from its old site at Central High School to the current UNC Charlotte location. Students chosen as bell ringers have demonstrated exemplary 49er spirit. "Words cannot describe what Charlotte has brought to me and it was an absolute honor to be Bell Ringer for my commencement ceremony. Being a Niner will be embedded in me and my time here is a testament of that."

Faculty, staff and alumni step up to help Belk College students in a variety of ways. One graduating student who benefitted from the supportive Belk College culture is Deven Satchell, who received a Master of Business Administration. Satchell, an active Bank of America alumni group member who also earned an undergraduate degree from Charlotte, needed a final six hours of elective credits to graduate. He unexpectedly was traveling out of the country during the semester, so the MBA program leadership worked with him to ensure he was able to take classes online and obtain the credits to graduate on time and walk across the stage.

Alumni involvement

Belk College alumni also had a significant presence during the commencement ceremonies.

For philanthropic contributions and community service, Belk College alumnus Demond T. Martin ‘97 and current CEO and founder of wellwithall, was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service. Martin earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Charlotte and an MBA from Harvard University. "Where you start is not where you finish," Martin told students. "We are experiencing an epidemic of loneliness and despair … We pour out our hearts to anyone struggling with mental illness, depression, anxiety, suicidality. Anyone who is thinking the world is better off without you — you’re wrong. We need your empathy, creativity, humor and brilliance."

Belk College alumnus Dennis N. Bunker III, vice chair of the Charlotte Board of Trustees, brought greetings from the board at The Graduate School’s Friday afternoon ceremony. Bunker earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Charlotte and a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia University. "You should feel confident that your Charlotte degree is valuable and vital and will serve you well in your professional endeavors and in service to your communities," Bunker told the graduates. "It is a tangible symbol of your commitment and your effort and your creativity and immeasurable potential in your next chapter of life."

Belk College alumnus Dontá Wilson ’97, chief retail and small business banking officer for Truist and secretary and member of the Charlotte Board of Trustees, brought greetings from the board at the Saturday afternoon undergraduate ceremony that included Belk College graduates. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Charlotte and an MBA from the University of Maryland. He received Charlotte’s Distinguished Alumni Award earlier in May. "It is a great day for you, our distinguished graduates," Wilson said. "It is your dedication, your effort, your perseverance, that got you to this exciting day in your lives. While you did the hard work, there are a lot of people who helped you along the way, especially the fantastic faculty and staff who are the heart and soul of Charlotte."