Alumni Spotlight: John Barrett

Headshot of JB

By: Krystal Peru

Graduating from NC State is one of the greatest accomplishments a member of the Wolfpack can achieve; however, the road to this achievement can be a hard one and, for many students, it can include a few obstacles.

For some, the most challenging obstacle they may face may be exploring their own self-identity. Alumnus John Barrett graduated from the Poole College of Management in the Spring of 2017 with his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He recently discussed his journey towards self-discovery and his time at NC State. 

Barrett, who is originally from Apex, NC, entered NC State in 2013 as a part of the Exploratory Studies program (formally known as the First Year College), where students are encouraged to learn about and explore the many different majors the university has to offer. While in the program, Barrett had the opportunity to learn about several majors and sought to find the one that was best suited for him. As a part of the program, he also had the opportunity to speak with students and faculty in a number of different majors and colleges. He participated in career assessments and even personality tests to help determine the major and other campus opportunities that may be the best fit for him. Through his journey, he discovered himself and felt confident in his ability to make a well-informed decision on his choice of major. 

By the end of his first year, Barrett narrowed down his major choices to two options, environmental technology and business administration. He recalls he was interested in majoring in environmental technology because of his passion for nature. Growing up, he was an Eagle Scout and was very active in outdoor activities and passionate about environmental education. During his sophomore year, Barrett transitioned into his new major and began taking courses such as soil science and chemistry; however, he soon found himself with a dilemma. Barrett’s passions and interests were no longer aligned with his academic goals, and he found himself curious about some of the other programs he had heard about during his time in Exploratory Studies.

After a great deal of thought and consideration, Barrett decided to return to the Exploratory Studies program. As an inter-college transfer student, Exploratory Studies helped him through the change of degree process while finding his new major.

In the summer of 2015, Barrett was feeling slightly discouraged about his academic path. He decided to arrange an advising appointment with Michelle Garoutte, his new academic advisor in Exploratory Studies, to discuss his future direction. Barrett expressed interest in the business administration program but knew the program had rigorous admissions requirements. He had not taken a business course previously and he believed meeting the academic requirements for acceptance could prove to be a challenge. Prior to his meeting, Barrett recalls he felt panic and discouraged. He states, “Being that I had not taken any business classes, and I was halfway through college, I didn’t know how it was going to be received. I thought she would say it was impossible to graduate in four years.”

During his advising meeting with Garoutte, he discussed his current degree progress and where he hoped to be in the future. To Barrett’s surprise, Garoutte was not dismissive of his goal of matriculating into Poole College of Management. “I am never going to tell a student that they cannot do anything. If that is something you want to do and you are serious about it, then let’s figure out what we need to do,” explained Garoutte. Together they developed a plan for Barrett to transfer into the business administration program. It wouldn’t be easy, but he would need to take several summer classes to meet the program’s requirements and do well in them. Feeling rejuvenated and inspired by his meeting with Garoutte, John registered for three summer classes. He was determined to do well in his coursework. Throughout the summer, Barrett worked diligently and stayed committed to his goal, and by the end of summer learned he had earned the grades necessary to raise his GPA and meet the CODA requirements for the Poole College of Management. 

“One of the things that I really appreciated from Michelle is she always took the time to let me know that things were possible if you put in the hard work.”

By the fall semester of 2015, Barrett was officially accepted into the Business Administration program. Looking back on the process, Barrett notes “one of the things that I really appreciated from Michelle is she always took the time to let me know that things were possible if you put in the hard work. She never made me feel as if I was out of the race.” He is very thankful for Garoutte helping him through his transformation and teaching him that some seemingly difficult things are possible if you put in the hard work. Despite changing his major and all the other obstacles, Barrett successfully completed his degree in the spring of 2017.  After graduation, he accepted a job offer to work in Charlotte, NC, as a brokerage specialist. Later he accepted a position with a large bank in Raleigh and quickly moved into his new role as the youngest investment and portfolio manager at his company. 

Barrett acknowledges his journey was not straightforward but appreciates all the help and advice he received along the way. His advice for future and current students is “if there is a road, then there is a way.” Barrett believes every student has the potential to fulfill their goals and hopes they understand all of the tools that the University has to offer to help them succeed. He also hopes, “every student feels like they are never out of the race and should never doubt self-worth.”

For students considering exploring various majors at the Inter-College Transfer (ICT) program can provide assistance and guidance throughout the process. Students can receive more information about the ICT program through walk-in advising. Students are also able to use the Academic Advising Programs and Services website to explore various majors and minors across campus.