When UNC Greensboro MBA student Carrie Longnecker Hall was asked to be the student speaker at December’s Commencement ceremony, she was amazed and more than a little nervous. In fact, she almost declined.

Ultimately, however, Hall decided to do what’s made the last five years of her life a resounding, if often challenging, success: She pushed through the fear.

“Why me? I am not valedictorian, class president or voted most popular,” Hall confessed to a packed Commencement crowd last Friday. “What on earth am I going to talk about, and how can I offer any of you wisdom for your future?”

She shared with fellow graduates her experiences with depression, working at unfulfilling jobs, and starting over. She also shared her triumphs.

“Honestly, the last five years of my life have been a whirlwind,” Hall said during her speech. “I have had two kids, bought a house, gotten married, received three degrees, completely changed careers, and found an amazing job at a great company. At the same time, I have made some great friends and learned some incredible things. They have been the best five years of my life.”

Hall came to UNCG in 2014 after years of working in the restaurant industry. During her first year as an undergraduate business major at UNCG, her son was born. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she dove right into UNCG’s MBA program in 2016. Hall’s daughter was born the first week of her master’s program. A combination of night classes and online coursework allowed Hall to be what she called a “very busy stay-at-home mom.”

“Here at UNC Greensboro, I found my future and the support network that has and will continue to help me reach my full potential,” Hall said. “I have achieved more since I have started to live with intention than I did in my entire life before then. Now, thanks to these decisions, the support of this University, and my family, I will be home when my kids are, be able to give them what they need, and enjoy my career even more because of the balance.”

Hall now works in procurement at Syngenta, a global agrochemical company. She says she now enjoys a fulfilling career and quality time with her husband and two children that may not have been possible without the years of hard work, dedication, and facing her fears. To her fellow graduates at December’s Commencement ceremony, she offered these closing words:

“If I can give you one piece of advice from the lessons I have learned throughout my experiences, it is this: Don’t let fear stop you. You are going to be scared and you are going to be overwhelmed. Go where you are uncomfortable. Pursue what makes you afraid. Take it one step at a time, one week, or day, or even a minute if you need to, just keep moving. The little steps add up and become big accomplishments, and you will one day wake up and realize how amazing your life has become, and then you can have an impact on others.”

Story by Victor Ayala, University Communications
Photography by Jiyoung Park, University Communications
Video courtesy of the Bryan School of Business and Economics