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Alumni Spotlight: Chelsea Gardner

Chelsea Gardner in Spain

In this edition of the Alumni Spotlight, we had the opportunity to chat with Chelsea Gardner (Class of 2015) about her post-graduate career with Edelman (a global communications firm) and her current pursuit of an MBA at UNC.

Chelsea earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. As a member of the University Scholars Program (USP) Chelsea had the opportunity to travel to Madrid and Barcelona, Spain for Spring Break – among other adventures. She credits her time in the University Scholars Program as instilling a sense of academic adventure and cultural curiosity that propels her to this day. Read on to learn more about what things Chelsea is currently working on.


USP: So, since you graduated you’ve worked a while in public relations for Edelman. What were some of your main responsibilities working there?

CG: As a Health Media Executive, I had the opportunity to provide strategic counsel and spearhead media engagement for global pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and technology companies to drive awareness of brand and products. My main responsibilities included conducting media outreach and securing client placements in local and national media, e.g., Associated Press, NYT & CNN.

USP: That sounds very cool. What would you say you learned from your experiences with Edelman?

CG: Wow, I learned so much from my time at Edelman. From a professional perspective, I learned about “managing up,” which requires you to anticipate the needs of your managers, so you can exceed their expectations. I learned how to assess data to bring client and patient stories to life. From a personal perspective, I learned about the importance of workplace culture and how to be your own advocate. I also learned the value of being courageous and speaking up for what I believe in, even when that may not be a popular opinion. Edelman was a constant learning experience!

USP: Those all sound like very transferable lessons you could apply anywhere in life. So you’re currently pursuing an MBA; what inspired you to start that?

CG: I knew that I wanted to pursue an MBA when I graduated from NC State in 2015. Upon graduating, I took strategic steps to ensure I could position myself well for the application process, e.g. work experience, etc. It’s no secret that there is a lack of underrepresented minority women in business leadership positions. I feel compelled to break this proverbial glass ceiling and equip myself with the tools to ensure equitable representation in the business world.

USP: That is an awesome goal and one that we know you’ll do well at. How would you say your time in

the University Scholars Program prepared you for these experiences?

CG: The USP granted me a number of amazing opportunities. The domestic and international experiences helped me build a cultural competency that I’ll never take for granted. The USP provided me with a supportive community & network that has extended way beyond NC State. My USP experience started off with this Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  And, I did just that! This quote has, honestly, been ingrained in my memory since freshman year. USP opened me up to a new world of learning. I now approach academia as an adventure, including my MBA. In these two years, I plan to make the most out of learning about my classmates, who are from all different walks of life and backgrounds, and travel the world! I also plan to lean into new experiences and take classes that stretch me out of my comfort zone.

USP: It sounds like you took a lot of the lessons of the program to heart and we love hearing that. What would you want other University Scholars to know as they prepare for work life, or to pursue further education?

CG: Do your research! Visit programs, talk to current students, and start crafting your personal story. The application process is rigorous and demanding, but it is very similar to your experience during your first year. Although you will certainly experience some difficulties, I can say without hesitation I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do.

USP: That’s so true. Okay, last question Chelsea, what’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

CG: This is a tough question. Hmm, my sorority sister shared this with me recently, “Each experience prepares you for the next in ways you may or may not always see in advance. Endure and trust the process.”

USP: Those are sage words of advice. We wish you the best of luck Chelsea and we look forward to seeing where your path takes you once you’ve finished your MBA. Keep us posted!