Real Humans of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class of 2021
Nkasano R. Fullerton, UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Class of 2021
Hometown: St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, and Coral Springs, FL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Florida; B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Criminology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I have eight years of pre-MBA work experience. I taught sixth- and eighth-grade mathematics with Teach for America and most recently worked at JCPenney Corporate as a senior assistant buyer.
Why business school? Why now?
For me, the decision to get an MBA was both personal and professional. I saw an MBA as the perfect opportunity to pivot my marketing career by gaining the skill sets needed for leadership in a diverse and competitive environment. Coming from a nontraditional business background, I wanted to explore my passions for data analytics, strategy, and marketing.
However, I quickly realized that the only way to acquire those skills was to get an MBA, so I began flirting with the idea of business school in 2017. As I took some time to reflect on my life, I started down a path of self-exploration. I knew now was the perfect time, because based on my years of experience, I had both the drive to be a leader and the passion required to excel in a rigorous MBA program.
Why UNC Kenan-Flagler? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Coming from Jamaica—an island with a very firmly rooted culture—I wanted to attend a school whose values would mirror these strong traditions, beliefs, and norms and would enhance my perspective on business. From my interactions with admissions and current students, it became evident to me that Kenan-Flagler’s community fosters a sense of belonging.
The driving force behind my attending Kenan-Flagler was the people—the level of communication and commitment I experienced was remarkable. During my first visit to Kenan-Flagler, I was very impressed with the quality of the program. Most importantly, I didn’t feel like just a number. I felt valued for my unique characteristics and felt that Kenan-Flagler’s core values aligned with my own, making KFBS the ideal school in which to receive my MBA education.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
My most valuable contribution comes from the skill sets I gained from being a teacher and a buyer, especially my ability to build relationships and use those relationships to improve outcomes. As a teacher, I was able to lead over 500 students to academic excellence by developing trusting relationships, thus allowing me to motivate my students daily.
Transitioning to JCPenney, I was able to build upon those skill sets, using my relationships with multiple vendors to generate millions of dollars in revenue for my team and establishing profitable business strategies for JCPenney and our vendors.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
My love for Pokémon. I’ve played every single Pokémon game, from Pokémon Red to Pokémon GO. I’m a skilled Pokémon trainer who competes online in competitive battling.
Post-MBA career interests?
Upon graduation, I plan to go into marketing analytics/brand management for a major consumer goods company.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Take more prep courses in finance, accounting, economics, and business statistics. The more exposure you have to these courses, the easier your first semester will be.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
In hindsight, I would not be so consumed with the MBA rankings (I spent hours trying to dissect them). My best advice is to find a school where you feel you can be your authentic self.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GRE/GMAT. I would recommend either Magoosh.com or getting a tutor (I did both). Also, I suggest making sure you have a detailed study schedule and that you are studying for six to eight hours a week.
What is your initial impression of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s students/culture/community?
UNC Kenan-Flagler has strong traditions, and my classmates are very humble. Since it was one of the first public institutions, it has an endless list of traditions, from ringing the bell at career services when you receive your internship and drinking from Old Well on your first day of classes to bonding with your classmates at Carolina Casual.
Kenan-Flagler has certain cultural traits that help define our business school experience. Lastly, my classmates—I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the quality of the students I’ve encountered, who have been very humble and willing to go the extra mile to ensure that I feel valued.
One thing you have learned about UNC Kenan-Flagler that has surprised you?
I have been genuinely impressed with the faculty; the fact that I’m being taught by some of the best professors in the world is humbling. The professors are not only intelligent but passionate about teaching, and they want to see you succeed.
On the first day of classes, our accounting professor provided us with an optional review session because he didn’t want anyone to feel left behind, and he provided us with a refresher on the basics of accounting (debits and credits).
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Mod 1 (which other schools call THE CORE). Currently, we are taking Leading and Managing, Financial Accounting, Financial Tools, Microeconomics, Business Statistics, and Marketing. Mod 1 is designed to provide a good foundation geared toward readying us for internship interviews—the courses are very heavy, so you must keep up with your readings, homework, and group projects, along with case-interview prep.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Finishing my first year and starting my internship in June 2020. One of my primary reasons for attending business school was to develop the skill sets that will enable me to use quantitative analysis to drive change in a business, so I am super excited about using the knowledge from my first year to hit the ground running.