2022 MBA To Watch: Kelsie Carter, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Kelsie Carter

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“A dog-loving adventurer with a passion for combating social determinants of health.”

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

Fun fact about yourself: I was a competitive swimmer for over 10 years and almost drowned at Australia’s Bondi Beach.

Undergraduate School and Degree: New York University, BA in Global Public Health & Sociology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Behavioral Health Specialist at Allina Health

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? DaVita Kidney Care, Remote

Where will you be working after graduation? DaVita Kidney Care, Redwoods Resident

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President of the Black Business Student Association: I supported the professional development and academic excellence of Black students by providing resources and hosting leadership and development events on how to become transformational leaders.
  • Consortium Fellow and Consortium VP of Internal Engagement: I supported first-year Consortium members in conference and interview preparation by hosting coaching sessions on recruitment and providing resources and networking opportunities.
  • Vetter Dean’s Fellow and Alumni Chair: I developed a consolidated database of Vetter Dean’s Fellows alumni and organized events for alumni and student networking opportunities.
  • Recipient of the MBA Core Values Award (Inclusion): Receiving this award for inclusion showcased my commitment to supporting an equitable environment and welcoming diversity of backgrounds, opinions, and experiences where all students feel valued.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

My greatest achievement was receiving the UNC Kenan-Flagler Core Value Award for Inclusion as a first-year student. This award was created to acknowledge and reward students who had a significant impact on the UNC Kenan-Flagler community with nominations submitted by peers, staff and faculty. It recognizes the work I have done to help promote inclusivity and belonging in the classroom while also celebrating diversity within business school. Receiving this award was an extremely proud moment, motivating me to continue my passions of creating workplace environments that allow all employees of diverse backgrounds feel they can be their authentic selves. At UNC Kenan-Flagler, we value all identities, cultures and perspectives and I hope to continue embodying the value of inclusion throughout the rest of my business school career and beyond.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest professional achievement was when I took on a leadership role for a performance improvement initiative within Alina Health’s emergency department. This was the first time I stepped out of my traditional responsibilities and represented the behavioral health unit on a cross-departmental initiative. This opportunity to work with numerous stakeholders outside of my department allowed for me to showcase my strengths and bring value to the organization, and it also strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in healthcare administration. This experience showcased my problem solving and analytical skills in creating impactful change for patients and team members as well as recognition of my leadership abilities from my supervisors.

Why did you choose this business school? I knew going into business school I wanted to continue my pursuit of healthcare operations. I wanted to choose a school that would help me strengthen my knowledge in healthcare and have a great network of healthcare companies UNC had all of the aspects I was looking for in a MBA program with their strong healthcare program, job placement rates and huge alumni network. However, the main driver that put UNC ahead of the rest of the strong culture of community and collaboration. In every conversation I had with a staff member or a student we discussed the tight-knit community and support students felt from alumni, faculty, and their peers. I was blown away by the number of conversations I had with UNC students and alumni and their willingness to make room in their schedules to chat with me about the school and their experiences. I could tell that students who leave UNC Kenan-Flagler love to pay it forward and continue supporting students. I knew that I wanted to go to a business school that emphasized community and belonging as a student with a “non-traditional” background. Having peers who support one another and push you to succeed made my MBA experience an extremely positive one.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have had numerous amazing professors throughout my two years, but my favorite professor has been Judy Tisdale. Judy is a phenomenal professor in the communications department where I took both her Management Communications and Communications for Developing Leaders course. Judy’s coaching style in the classroom built my confidence when speaking in a business environment. She also provides detailed feedback on ways to become a more effective communicator. Outside of being extremely compassionate, attentive and driven to develop strong leaders, Judy continuously went above and beyond to create an inclusive learning environment. The numerous actions Judy took to make sure her classroom was an environment where students could be their authentic selves and to recognize and celebrate our differences improved my classroom experience immensely.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? After my first year of business school being entirely virtual and almost two years of virtual social interactions, I loved attending UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Winter Formal. As we missed out on many traditions in the virtual environment, this allowed me to connect with my classmates in an in-person environment while also getting dolled up! It was amazing to see my peers and friend out of our casual clothing and to dress up and celebrate the holidays. Although I developed great relationships in smaller settings, I don’t think I realized how much these larger events allow you to interact and connect with peers I didn’t normally see in the hallways. It was great to mingle, meet significant others and visibly see and fell the closeness of our community.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back, I would have taken more time to connect and get to know my classmates. With the first year being virtual, I think I overly prioritized my academics and kept my head down at home instead of finding different ways to get to know my peers. During your MBA career, your peers will become your largest network and we are all connected from our shared experience at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Yes, the pandemic did hinder a lot of the traditional methods of socializing and networking, but I could have taken more of an initiative to reach out and schedule virtual coffee chats or happy hours. These two years go by in a blink of an eye, and now going into my final quarter of business school, I feel like I am catching up to connect with my peers and getting to know them on a personal and professional level.

What is the biggest myth about your school? When I first began my business school journey, I was told by mentors and others I look up to that coming in with a non-traditional” background would put me at a disadvantage in business school. I was very worried coming from a public health background, without any financial or accounting experience, would make it more difficult to recruit and succeed academically. To compensate for my perceived inadequacy, I took multiple online courses to prepare for the August start date. As they were helpful, I would tell other “non-traditional” students that your experiences really benefit the classroom experience and provided a different viewpoint to foster more robust discussions. I never felt behind, or inferior to my peers. There were times that I would study a bit harder than others on certain quantitative courses, but overall my peers and faculty valued my different perspective on businesses policies, managerial decision-making, and ethics coming from a healthcare delivery background.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by the large number of professional development that happens outside of the classroom. In business school, I was constantly juggling multiple priorities, classes, recruiting, networking, conferences, and more. However, despite my courses being rigors and extremely beneficial, I realized how much I have learned within and outside of my industry from my peers and extracurriculars. By taking on leadership positions, I learned from some of the hardest-working individuals through event collaborations, speaker events, and faculty interactions. The diversity of thought and background that I have encountered during this program has helped my professional development immensely.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? The largest thing I did to differentiate my application was to showcase the impact that I planned to make within the UNC Kenan-Flagler community. I had done significant research of UNC before submitting my application and made sure that the school’s core values aligned with my personal and professional goals. I specifically mentioned how my goals aligned with the mission and values of the school and then described the community groups that I hoped to engage with such as the Black Business Student Association and the Healthcare Club. Overall, tying together my goals and interests with the values and resources available at UNC strengthened my application.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are numerous classmates who initially came to mind, but one person I really admire is fellow Consortium member TJ Scott, who is also the PRIDE Club co-president, a diversity club for the LGBTQ+ community. TJ is a double Tar Heel and has immense pride and love for the UNC Kenan-Flagler community which he shows in his activism and engagement with the community. TJ has taken on multiple leadership positions as an MBA ambassador and on the dean’s advancement council. TJ and I bonded over our passion for improving the business school experience for minority students and driving initiatives that foster discussion around intersectionality and allyship. TJ is one of the greatest advocates for our peers and perspective students as a mentor, school ambassador and leader. He has constantly inspired me to tackle challenges and opportunities that push me outside of my comfort zone to foster greater leadership development. TJ has been integral to my MBA experience, and I am so proud to have him as a classmate and friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father was a huge influence in my pursuit of business school. My father was also a Consortium fellow from the class of 1986, had a successful career in marketing and loved his experience at the University of Rochester. He really inspired me to put in the work and recognizing the vast array of opportunities that can open up to me with an MBA in healthcare. He has always encouraged my dreams and has been a huge support for mentorship and guidance during some of the more difficult times in my first year of school. His motivational words, late-night calls, and expertise has helped me immensely during my MBA journey.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Become a mentor to other POC business students and young adults, as I hope to help bring more diversity in the business environment
  2. Lead a global project/initiative within healthcare operations

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? Now two years into the pandemic, I have strengthened my resolved for a healthy work/life balance and have recognized the importance of having a flexible work environment. With the first year of business school being entirely virtual, then moving to an in-person format for my second year, I recognize how invaluable it is to adapt in a working environment. Productivity does not always mean going into an office from 9-5 or reaching a certain quota of in-person meetings. Consistent communication, in both in-person and virtual formats can be just as, if not more, valuable and allows for employees to meet their personal needs while also getting their work done.

Personally, I have enjoyed a hybrid model of work more than I expected as someone who always wanted to go into the office. I missed the in-person school and internship experience but have recognized I enjoy having flexibility in my work week. The pandemic has made me question but also recognize my career priorities, such as having a healthy work/life balance. Hybrid models have many benefits for employees, and I hope they are here to stay.

What made Kelsie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“As a member of the 2022 Class, Kelsie Carter is one of our most valuable and engaged students. Kelsie’s leadership especially shines in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). She has served as the co-president of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Black Business Student Association, and a her allyship in this role with other clubs can be seen in a recent podcast from MBA Schooled. In this episode Kelsie, along with her MBA peer TJ Scott, spoke as student leaders about how the role of allyship and intersectionality play in creating a diverse and inclusive environment that allows all individuals to thrive.

As a Dean’s Fellow, she worked on a DEI project that produced recommendations on how to support a more inclusive classroom experience. In addition, I personally asked Kelsie to serve as one of my teaching assistants in my MBA core “Inclusive Leadership” course. In this role, I personally consulted with Kelsie for how to improve the course experience for students.

Finally, as a Consortium Fellow, she has studied interventions to address social determinants of health. Kelsie has shown her immense passion for DEI and health equity through her numerous leadership roles and engagement with the UNC Kenan-Flagler community. Simply put, UNC Kenan-Flagler’s culture is forever improved because of Kelsie’s contributions.”

Elizabeth Dickinson
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Clinical Associate Professor of Management and Corporate Communication


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