2020 First Generation MBAs: Rose Telus, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Rose Telus

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Class: 2022

Hometown: Cap-Haitien Haiti; Houston, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a flutist and a lover of classical music. I marched in the band in high school and throughout college, but I enjoy playing in trios and quartets.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Louisiana at Lafayette, B.S., Petroleum Geology and M.S., Geology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Petram Consulting Group, Operations Geologist

What did your parents do for a living? My father is a carpenter and works for the City of Houston and my mother was a merchant in Haiti.

What was the highest level of education achieved by your mother and your father? My father completed high school and went on to trade school. My mother dropped out of high school after giving birth to me.

Which family member or mentor is your biggest inspiration or role model? Why? My biggest inspiration are my grandmothers. Both women were merchants in northern Haiti, where they sold mangos, avocados, sugar canes and cooked food. They were taken out of school to help with their family and married off to raise their own family. Even with the lack of education, they were great negotiators and entrepreneurs, influential – and no one could cheat them out of their money. I used to go to the market after school and observed different transactions and be in awe with how sharp and witted they were. I enjoyed every moment because they allowed me to participate in decision-making and negotiations.

What was the moment that led you to decide to pursue higher education? There wasn’t any particular moment when it clicked to me. Higher education is an expectation in my family and I was encouraged to seek a terminal degree from a young age. I also participated in the Federal TRIO programs and was a McNair scholar. Those programs pushed for higher education and provided resources needed to be successful.

What was your biggest worry before going for your undergraduate degree? Taking out loans scared me. I did not understand the process, and proper guidance was not given to my family nor me. But more so, I was afraid to start over if I didn’t pick the right major. I knew there wasn’t a refund, so I put a lot of pressure on myself not to make any mistakes.

What was the most challenging part of getting your undergraduate degree? I was challenged by the academic rigor and working multiple jobs. I had to work an equivalent of a full-time job to support myself and my family in Haiti. I worked in retail, numerous on-campus jobs, private tutoring and at a community center with unrepresented children to pay for my living expenses.

What didn’t your family understand about the higher experience that you wish they would understand better? I don’t think they understand any of it! I wish someone educated the Haitian community on the college experience and for that education to get to my family. I couldn’t answer their questions because I was new to the process and did not know what to expect of how to project into the future. There were so many misconceptions going around about the college experience. Some Haitian families did not allow their children to attend college outside of the city because of misguided information. I wish they were educated about the process holistically.

What led you to pursue an MBA degree? When I was on the board of directors at the National Society of Black Engineer (NSBE), I was exposed to leadership development, finance, marketing, and fundraising within the engineering society. I was so intrigued that I fully immersed myself in the position and wanted to be in the business sector.

How did you choose your MBA program? I chose UNC Kenan-Flagler through my interaction with the school at a Forte MBA fair. I attended many webinars with students and alumni. Everyone I spoke to kept mentioning the “Carolina Way” and the collaborative culture of the school. The more research I conducted, the more in love I became.

What was your biggest worry before starting your MBA? Finances! I was worried about not getting any fellowships/scholarships and being in debt for the rest of my life. I couldn’t wrap my head around the tuition price and overall cost of attendance for two years.

How were you able to finance your MBA as a first-generation student? In 2018, I became a member of the Forte Foundation. I went through the MBALaunch program and created lifelong relationships with my cohort. Fortunately, I was awarded a Forte Fellowship that put me at ease.

What advice would you have for other first-generation college students? My advice to first-generation students is whether you think you can or you can’t, you are absolutely correct. Believe in yourself and think positively, and you can accomplish anything.

What do you plan to pursue after graduation? I plan to pursue finance and get a broad understanding of how to create wealth.


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