Mother-Daughter Duo Share Graduation Day
Mother and daughter, Michelle and Lauren both enrolled at NC State in fall of 2018. Little did they know that Michelle, a Jenkins MBA student, would be sharing her graduation day with her youngest daughter, Lauren, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology.
Once Lauren Muir finished high school ready to start college, it freed up her mother, Michelle, to do the same — and at the same school.
They didn’t know when they enrolled in fall 2018 — Lauren as an undergraduate studying biology and Michelle in Jenkins’ MBA program — that they’d both graduate in December 2021. Lauren finished a semester early. Michelle, who works full time, thought she’d take four or five years to complete her program but enjoyed it so much, she accelerated to finish sooner.
Before Michelle applied to NC State, Lauren didn’t know her mother had been considering graduate school. “It makes a lot of sense because she’s a very accomplished person,” she says, “and she’ll have even more credentials with her MBA.”
Graduating on the same day “is a really exciting accomplishment for both of us,” Lauren says.
For Michelle, “It’s awesome” to graduate the same month as her youngest child. “Lauren’s been a good sport about it. The closer it got, the more we’ve thought this is really cool…It’s a good feeling partly because of the challenges of the pandemic. There’s a particularly sweet sense of accomplishment that’s beyond what we expected.”
The MBA program also was beyond Michelle’s high expectations.
“The flexibility of the online program and the quality ranking of the program drew me to this option for an advanced degree,” says Michelle, who was in Jenkins’ professional online MBA program.
“The return on investment for the NC State program is in line with what I was looking for. It’s a great value.”
The MBA will help Michelle bring more value to her position as regional operations director for the North Carolina Department of Commerce in Raleigh. She manages 75 people and oversees a workforce program that supports economic development and job growth in 15 counties.
“I wanted the MBA so that I can better understand the challenges our companies are facing, from a nuts and bolts approach,” Michelle says. “We’re at the intersection of business and government. The better I understand the challenges, the better the services we can provide…I want to do the best possible job for our employers.”
Her ability to do the best job for employers is enhanced by the graduate certificate in policy analysis she earned this year from NC State’s School of Public and International Affairs. That school and Poole College agreed to accept credits from courses Michelle took in both programs, so she could finish the MBA and certificate at the same time.
For potential career advancement, “It’s very helpful to have a foot in both spaces,” Michelle says.
With the MBA and certificate, she has vital analytical tools on the business side and policy side to find solutions to challenges in her current position and in potential future work as a consultant. “I love solving problems, strategizing and being able to think analytically, critically and holistically,” she says.
One of the most valuable parts of the MBA program for Michelle was the Jenkins consulting practicum, which provided hands-on experience as her team helped a Henderson County company. In working with Survival Innovations, a military safety-equipment provider, key for her was “understanding the consulting process and the data research and analysis that could lead to implementable solutions,” she says.
The MBA capstone Creating Value in Organizations also allows students to work directly with a company by developing a business plan that addresses covid-19 challenges. “The course has content that makes a difference,” Michelle says.
“We integrated all the theoretical things we’ve learned and applied them to analytic models.”
Aside from the courses, Michelle appreciates the MBA faculty. “They’re so supportive of students. They understand the need to balance family life with jobs and school. They make the work challenging but achievable,” she says.
She expects her MBA to broaden career options. “On the level I’m working at, the MBA is going to be critical to any future career growth,” she says.
Lauren’s initial career plan is to continue working in the fitness industry. She’s a coach at Orangetheory Fitness in Raleigh. With a minor in sports science, she worked at NC State’s gym for awhile, and that reinforced her interest in the field. Her practicum was at Orangetheory, where she applied her classroom learning.
As Michelle and Lauren developed new skills at NC State, they leaned on each other to deal with the pandemic’s impacts. “With covid, we absolutely needed each other’s support,” Michelle says.
Others in their family have an NC State connection although Lauren is the only one with an NC State bachelor’s degree. Her brother, Cameron, enrolled in the master’s in higher education administration program in fall 2018 and now works at Marquette University. Her oldest sister, Erin, used to be on staff with NC State Entrepreneurship.
“The minute I chose NC State, so did everybody else…My mother went to Carolina for undergraduate, so it makes total sense that she’d come to the better school to get her graduate degree,” Lauren, a Wolfpack fan since high school, jokes.
Given Michelle’s experience at NC State, she’s fully on board with the Red and White. “If people want to get an MBA, they really can’t do better than the Jenkins program,” she says. “And I’m proud to be part of the Wolfpack.”