Meet UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class of 2021

Rhian Carreker-Ford

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“There are always wars to fight, even if you don’t want to.”

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Fun Fact About Yourself: I chase eclipses, both solar and lunar.

Undergraduate School and Major: Fisk University, Political Science & Psychology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, Immigration Services Officer, Level II

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I organized a national seminar targeting men in Panama. I was working as the National Gender and Development/HIV Prevention Coordinator and I noticed a gap in the discussion of gender equity. Programs existed that addressed youth and women’s issues, but nothing existed for men. I felt that you couldn`t have a meaningful discussion about gender equality without men being a part of the conversation. After a year of preparation, we held the inaugural LeAD (Leadership and Development) Seminar in San Felix, Chiriquí, where over 20 members of communities came from across Panama.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I have only met a few of my classmates so far during Experience Weekend at UNC and other events hosted by UNC Kenan-Flagler. The classmates whom I have met made me feel as if I will be walking into a collaborative and resourceful environment. It is one thing to offer to help someone with something, but it is completely another thing to actually follow through with the offer. I feel that the majority of my classmates would fall into the latter category.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? There is no other way to say it, the people at Carolina were just nice. I felt as if everyone that I met was truly interested in what I had to say and were actually listening to the responses when they asked questions. I went to small schools and found that I thrive in collaborative environments, so a place like Carolina is definitely the MBA program for me.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? For that question, I have a personal and professional answer. Professionally, I am looking forward to the Consulting Club. My experiences have led me to believe that consulting is the perfect field for me. Personally, I am looking forward to getting back into Krav Maga. I started studying Krav Maga last year and it is a great physical and mental activity.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Tell me about yourself.” I am always thrown by that question. I really am bad at “selling myself,” so asking me about me is fairly difficult. I hope that getting an MBA will help me develop that skill. I am not sure whether it is my upbringing or my personality, but “tell me about yourself” always made me feel as if I was bragging rather than sharing who I was with someone.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Bridging the gap between the public and private sector-led me to pursue an MBA. The world is a very large place and problems are multi-faceted. I am currently pursuing a dual degree between UNC and Duke, earning an MBA and a master’s in public policy (MPP) respectively. Pursuing a master’s in public policy as well as an MBA will allow me to gain the practical experience and theoretical framework to tackle issues and see them from all sides.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Duke University Fuqua School of Business

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I had the opportunity to both speak with students and visit both schools. Those experiences were pivotal to me making my decision. I prioritized the culture of the school and how I saw myself fitting into the program. Luckily, both the schools were close so I could speak with students and alumni about their experiences, career paths, and how business school will help them succeed.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I was in high school, I had an experience where I was placed in a position of feeling like a victim. After being placed in that position, I had an epiphany. I began to think that circumstances will always change, but how I react to those situations is the only thing that is under my control. I promised myself to never be placed in a situation where I was a victim again.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself working at a consulting firm, specializing in humanitarian aid and disaster response, bridging the gap between the public sector and the private sector. On a personal note, in ten years, I hope to have a Wikipedia page that has been written by someone else.

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