The class of 2021 have overcome the challenges of the last year and a half with perseverance and creativity to stay connected to their studies. As we look towards their future, Poole College of Management explores the relationships with family, friends and NC State community members that have impacted their academic journey.
“I am excited and proud to celebrate our 2021 graduates,” said Frank Buckless, Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean, This group of students have endured some challenging times but they have shown resilience and dedication toward achieving this incredible milestone. I feel confident that Poole College and NC State have equipped them with the skills, talents and experiences so that they are prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.”
Spring 2021 Graduates By the Numbers
3 Doctorate of Philosophy in Economics
34 Bachelor of Arts in Economics
606 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
39 Bachelor of Science in Economics
122 Master of Business Administration
43 Master of Management, Global Luxury
116 Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Meet Our Graduates
Kiara Richardson, Jenkins MBA Program
For many individuals, the work of being a full-time MBA student is enough to keep them busy. But in the aftermath of the George Floyd riots and heightened awareness of racial injustices, when Kiara Richardson realized there wasn’t an organization to provide resources and support to Black MBA students, she started one.
The Jenkins Minorities in Business Student Association (JMIBSA), founded by Richardson in 2020, seeks to support all minorities enrolled in the Jenkins Graduate School that experience discrimination, racism and microaggressions. To date, the association has built a community of more than 40 members and hosted events such as a diversity panel for prospective students and a talk on “A View from the C-Suite” from Microsoft CTO Gina Loften.
Richardson, who graduated from NC State in 2016 with a degree in chemistry, came to the Poole College of Management Jenkins MBA Program after a few years in the workplace.
Grace Lasarsky, business administration
When Poole College Ambassador Grace Lasarsky graduates this May with a degree in business administration and minors in leadership and entrepreneurship, she will take with her days packed full of opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally.
While at NC State, Lasarsky participated in the NC State University Scholars Program where she learned the importance of being well-rounded through cultural experiences and non-traditional coursework. She took an active interest in Poole College’s B Corporation Clinic where she was placed in a group with NC State students, Duke students and working professionals and collaborated with HQ Raleigh in order to improve their current processes to be more sustainable and beneficial for their stakeholders.
“This experience exposed me to the idea of ‘Using Business as a Force for Good’ and how much of an impact I can make in my career,” Lasarsky says.
Poole College of Management Student Ambassadors
When Ethan Conklin first stepped onto campus as a prospective student from New Providence, N.J., he didn’t know a single person – or much at all about NC State. But during an information session about Poole College of Management, he quickly fell in love with the university. So when a friend mentioned the Poole Student Ambassadors program to him his freshman year, he saw an opportunity to help students scoping out the college like he once did.
“When I learned more about who the Poole Ambassadors were, I realized that they played a major part in why I came to NC State,” Conklin says. “I wanted to do the same for other students deciding where to go to college, so I decided to join the program.”
Now, four years later, Conklin is president of the Poole Ambassadors – and he’s graduating with more relationships at Poole than he can count.
George Shara, accounting
Most anyone who has spent time in Nelson Hall has likely seen the smiling face of George Shara – either studying, talking with a faculty member or enjoying a cup of coffee at Port City Java. Shara, who will graduate from the Poole College of Management this spring with a bachelor’s in accounting and minor in economics, has truly made the most of his time on campus.
Shara has participated in organizations such as the Poole College of Management Student Ambassadors program where he served as public relations coordinator, vice president of the Arab Student Organization (ASO) and Alpha Kappa Psi. He also played an active role in Poole’s Spring Connect program.
“Being a Spring Connect student myself, I know how hard it can be to come to NC State in the spring after everyone else in your graduating class started in the fall,” Shara says. “It is for that reason, I made sure that I could use my Poole Ambassador position in order to reach out to Spring Connect students and attend their seminars and information sessions in order to give them a sense of comfort and let them know that it will be okay.”
Elizabeth Reidy, business administration
Elizabeth Reidy, graduating senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing, met her group of friends her freshman year at NC State and the group of five have remained close as roomates and classmates ever since. Reidy has great memories of classes in Nelson 3400, Port City Java and hanging out in their apartments and dorms.
“I have had many, many picnics and zoom calls with my friends and have also taken up the mind-set to say yes to anything that is safe,” said Reidy. “I have been able to take graduation photos with my friends, attend a University Honors and Scholars Program picnic for graduating seniors and attend a few football games! This last year has been incredibly different but I am grateful for my friends and the ability to be outside.”
Relationships with Patrice Nealon, senior lecturer in marketing; Tom Byrnes, senior lecturer in marketing; and Lee Craig, professor of economics, are those Reidy will cary with her into a professional career in digital marketing for advice and expertise.
“As an alumna, I am most looking forward to being able to network with other alumni, recruit from NC State for my future employers and hopefully mentor future students,” said Reidy.
Maya Lee, business administration
Some students have a hard time deciding what extracurricular activities to get involved in during their undergraduate years. Maya Lee figured she’d make it easy and just do everything.
Lee, a Raleigh native who will graduate from Poole College in May with a double major in business administration and international studies, kept herself busy during her four years on campus. As a student-athlete, she was a team leader of the two-time, national championship-winning NC State co-ed cheerleading squad. She was also a Pack United Representative, University Ambassador, Poole College Peer Leader, social media manager for the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and an Alexander Hamilton Scholar.
The Alexander Hamilton Scholars Program is a dual degree program that allows students to earn a degree from both the Poole College of Management and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) – which was a perfect fit for Lee, who wanted to combine her two passions – marketing and global studies.
Gabriella Imbasciani, business administration and international studies
As a Raleigh native, Gabriella Imbasciani always dreamed of going to NC State. She began her college career in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, where she elected to pursue a major in international studies with a concentration in global relations. During her first semester, she was hired for a work-study job at the university’s Passport Services office, which allowed her to begin getting involved in the NC State Global community – which would soon bring her to the Poole College of Management.
“The international studies major comes with a lot of flexibility and I found myself taking a lot of interesting political science courses, which helped spark my interest in foreign policy and affairs. I soon realized that I could easily add a minor and had many free electives to fill, so I added a Spanish minor and decided I wanted to put all of my electives towards a singular area of study,” Imbasciani says. “That decision led me to the Alexander Hamilton Scholars (AHS) program, a dual degree program for students majoring in international studies and either accounting, economics or business administration.
Though she joined the AHS program later than most students – at the start of her junior year – Imbasciani found it to be an advantage.
Joshua Holley, Jenkins MAC Program
Born and raised in the small town of Silverhill, Ala., on the gulf coast, Joshua Holley had his sights on traveling the world.
“I attended the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama, for my bachelor’s degree in intercultural studies and a minor in business,” Holley says. “I knew that I wanted to one day be involved in business in some form and thought that gaining cross-cultural communication skills would be helpful in college, as well.”
After graduating from the University of Mobile in 2016, Holley applied to serve with nonprofit organizations in south Asia, where he worked on education and leadership development projects in places like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“It was an incredible experience. After I returned to the U.S. and got married to my wife, Emily, we settled in the Triangle area of North Carolina and I began to consider graduate programs where I could develop a set of technical, business-related skills and qualifications,” Holley says. “I wanted to enter a program that was high-quality, and a field that is in high demand. I remembered back to my undergraduate financial accounting courses and how much I enjoyed that. So, I came to the NC State Master of Accounting department to talk with Jay Arrington about the Jenkins MAC program.”
Jenna Reed, business administration
Jenna Reed, a senior in business administration with a concentration in marketing, has made the most out of her unique virtual college experience. She has stayed active in her sorority and other student organizations through Zoom has been able to listen to incredible speakers through virtual events.
One memory from her time at Poole College that will stay with Reed is of Jennifer McLamb, assistant director for academic advising.
“During my sophomore year at NC State, I suffered from a bad knee injury and needed to have surgery,” said Redd. I was left unable to walk for months and I was so anxious and panicked because I did not know how I was going to recover from my injury while also continuing my education on campus. Ms. McLamb helped me figure out my class schedules, how to physically get from class to class, and provided me emotional support throughout this entire experience.”
Following graduation, Reed will be working as a marketing specialist with NetApp, a data management company, and plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration.
Muhammad Yadudu, Ph.D. in economics
As a husband and father of two young children, master’s candidate Muhammad Yadudu has his hands full – literally. While pursuing his master’s degree in economics at the Poole College of Management, he wasn’t exempt from the issues many parents have to face. Like the time in 2019, when his wife and young daughter were out of town for the day and he had no childcare for his four-year-old son.
“I had a very important lecture that I couldn’t miss,” Yadudu remembers. “Thankfully, Dr. Will Phan was kind enough to let me bring my son to class.”
That kind of support will stand out in Yadudu’s mind when he thinks back on his time at NC State after he graduates in May.
“My class was very diverse, and as such, I have come to learn more about very different cultures – Turkish, Libyan, Ecuador, China and, of course, Americans,” Yadudu says. “Dr. Phan, Dr. Tom Vukina and Dr. Richard Ellison were particularly impactful in my journey.”
Sharon Harris, accounting and business administration
When she first entered Poole College, Sharon Harris, a double major in accounting and business administration, did not know what she wanted to do with her accounting degree. Thanks to the ACC 450 on IT risks and controls class taught by Joseph Brazel, professor of accounting, she found her passion for auditing.
“Dr. Brazel provides super hands on learning with cases where you can put what you are learning in the classroom to practice,” said Harris. “He also has awesome career experiences to draw from that make the class fun and interesting.”
Harris has tried to make the most out of her last semester at NC State by taking walks around campus even when she doesn’t have classes on campus and staying connect with classmates and faculty through Zoom.
“Starting in June, I will be working in Deloitte’s Raleigh office as an audit intern. In the fall I will be pursuing my Master of Accounting at the University of Virginia and will likely return to Deloitte to join their audit team full-time upon graduation,” said Harris.
Victoria Gervasi, Jenkins MAC Program
Sometimes, when Victoria Gervasi stops to think about her educational path to become an accountant, it’s hard for her to remember how it all began. There’s one thing she does know though, for sure. It’s that without the encouragement of her Poole College of Management professors and classmates, she would not be graduating this May with her master’s degree in accounting.
“I went straight into the Jenkins MAC program in the fall of 2020, after my internship with EY last summer. My undergrad intermediate accounting professor, Robin Thomas, was the first person to believe in my future as a public accountant, along with Jennie Dirienzo,” Gervasi remembers. “They were so influential in pushing me to try another accounting course, and then another, and before I knew it I had majored in accounting and was applying for the MAC program. I still don’t even know how that happened.”
After graduation this spring, Gervasi will be working on her CPA exams and serving as a graduate assistant for MAC faculty – after which, she will head to Charlotte where she has a full-time job lined up with EY’s FSO tax team starting in January. To push through these next few months, she’ll be channeling the energy of Dirienzo, her mentor.
Mikayla L. Morrison, Global Luxury and Management
Trying to break into the fashion industry is hard enough. Trying to do it with a degree in urban studies and public policy and a background in local government is even harder, Mikayla Morrison jokes. It is why, when learning about Poole College of Management’s Global Luxury and Management (GLAM) program, Morrison jumped at the opportunity.
“I had a conversation with a friend who had the same interests and he told me about another student who had been in the GLAM cohort of 2014 and all of the things he had done professionally after the program,” Morrison remembers. “I Googled the program and the first thing I saw was ‘Two degrees. Two continents. One powerful year!’ and I started gathering my application materials immediately.”
GLAM program participants receive two master’s degrees upon graduation – a Master in Management with a concentration in Global Luxury from NC State, and a Master of Science in Global Luxury Management from SKEMA Business School in France. Students spend the fall semester in Raleigh and the spring semester in Paris.
Supply Chain Resource Cooperative Practicum
As COVID-19 spread across the world, countless companies and organizations found themselves having to significantly reduce or halt travel to help reduce the spread of the virus.
So, as many other companies have in the past, the American Red Cross reached out to the Poole College of Management’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) to see if its faculty and students could assist with a current business challenge. The American Red Cross has partnered with the college’s SCRC for five years. As part of the program, students apply their classroom knowledge to solve real-world problems for industry, which allows the students to come away with an experiential understanding of supply chain management.
“The Supply Chain practicum projects are a fantastic opportunity for the students to gain real-world experience by working directly with a company to solve a business problem.
As a team, the students meet weekly with the company, as well as with their faculty advisor, to work on their project. The students learn about the supply chain issue, as well as develop other skills such as project management, business communication, presentation skills, problem-solving and teamwork,” explains Tracy Freeman, Poole College senior lecturer in operations and supply chain management.
Siyan Liu, Ph.D. in Economics
When describing the culture of a doctoral program, particularly in a field like economics, phrases like rigorous, demanding or grueling may be expected. But collegial and friendly? That seems less likely. However, it’s exactly that atmosphere that attracted doctoral candidate Siyan Liu to NC State’s Polle College of Management Economics Ph.D. program.
“I knew I wanted to get a Ph.D. in economics during my senior year in college,” Liu says. “Economics is a field where I can apply quantitative analysis to inform real-world policymaking and to, hopefully, make a difference. I was attracted by the friendly atmosphere between students and faculty in the Econ Ph.D. program at Poole College.”
Liu, who was born and raised in Beijing, China, went to Hong Kong and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance at the University of Hong Kong. Before coming to NC State, she received a master’s in economics from Vanderbilt University.
Her choice to pursue her Ph.D. at Poole provided Liu with relationships that she found impactful both personally and professionally.