Just over three years ago as a high school student in Cary, N.C., Belk College of Business finance major Mikenzie Green couldn’t imagine her future holding a four-year degree and a promising career in business.
"I didn’t see myself taking control and doing something bigger," said Green, who graduates from UNC Charlotte in December with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. "I didn’t see myself graduating early. I didn’t see myself being a business student. But then I thought I would go ahead and apply to Charlotte just to see what happened. I came here to campus and I thought, 'Wait, I do want something bigger.' I think that changed my life."
Now, Green has achieved all the things she could not even imagine and is moving forward into a business analyst role at First Citizens Bank’s CIT subsidiary in Charlotte.
"I will be using my knowledge to analyze the companies we work for, the clients and their customers," she said. "I think all of my experiences will help me look at things not only in the way that the rest of the team does but also in different ways. I think it can be really helpful to bring people with different perspectives into a problem to change things up a little bit."
She decided on a finance major when she realized she could help others, while preparing herself for a career that would draw upon her interest in math and the stories behind the numbers.
"Learning more about financial literacy and how money is used in businesses appealed to me," she said. "I enjoy understanding what the numbers mean, getting to not only come up with the numbers but use them in different ways. With financial literacy, I come from a family who never really talked about it. I didn’t know much about the topic, but I knew it was going to be important to me. Being able to use financial literacy not only in my personal life but also for my job to help companies and people drew me to a more math-related major."
A stint with First Citizens as a CIT Commercial Services intern reinforced her interest in building financial stability for people and companies. Green’s mother and grandmother worked as teacher assistants in public schools, which also inspired her interest in others.
"We talk about how people struggle with money and how that can be a source of individual people’s problems but also businesses’ problems," she said. "Being able to learn more about that and use that knowledge to help is of great interest to me."
In her time at Charlotte, Green has juggled her internship, her classes and part-time campus positions with OneIT and, most recently, as a Belk College peer advisor.
"I am so proud of how I have been able to keep track of my academics while also working," she said. "I know many other students at Charlotte do this, and it is difficult to make sure that you are taking care of yourself while being a student full time and working part time. It’s more than a full-time job. Keeping it together was my biggest accomplishment and being able to accept that I have done it myself and I can take my own credit."
As a peer advisor who moved into a senior peer advisor role this year, Green has taken what she has learned to guide other students.
"I immediately loved working in the Niblock Student Center as a peer advisor," she said. "Being able to give my student perspective to students who may be younger than me and to make sure that the students I am meeting with know all of their options and for them to have someone they can rely on to ask questions and make sure their academic career is on the path they want is really important."
Green has learned business practices while working with the professionals in the Niblock Student Center. "I’ve gained experience talking with students, creating and delivering presentations and working in an office setting," she said. "I also have gained leadership and mentoring experience working with other peer advisors who just joined us in August."
She also benefited from having her own advisor, Belk College Senior Assistant Director of Academic and Career Coaching Kim Lawrence. "That has really helped me stay on track and helped build me as a professional and as a student," Green said.
Green also credits faculty and other staff for helping her learn and grow. "Professors can really make or break your education," she said. "It is really great that our professors in the Belk College have so much real-world experience and are able to bring that into the classroom, as well as our professional development team working super hard to connect students with opportunities — internships, full-time jobs, part-time jobs. They’re here to push every student to know that they have access to the resources to be successful. I have had so many professors who have so many connections, and they just want to see their students succeed."
A significant development for Green was to set her sights on lifelong learning. "My professors tell us that being in the classroom and earning a degree is not going to be enough for the rest of our lives," she said. "Being able to adapt and learn new things is what is going to take us to the next level over and over again. Also, seeing my professors who have done that in their own lives, I realize there is always a next step."
Her progression has been dramatic, Green said. "I have changed so much," she said. "I am a completely different person than I was when I first came here when I was a teenager. The Belk College has helped me grow into a person who strives to do bigger things and better things. Becoming an adult is hard, but all of the resources that the Belk College and Charlotte in general provide really help students be successful. Being able to take advantage of all that and be my best self is priceless."