NCAT Commencement Stage

AMBITIOUS 20-YEAR-OLD AMONG N.C. A&T FALL CLASS OF ‘15

WHAT: North Carolina A&T State University Fall Commencement
WHEN: 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 12; media is asked to arrive by 8 a.m.
WHERE: Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro, N.C.

When the fall 2015 graduating class of North Carolina A&T State University assembles for commencement exercises on Dec. 12 in the Greensboro Coliseum, among the graduates will be 20-year-old economics major Najjuwah Walden.

Walden entered N.C. A&T in June 2014 with six credit hours and a very specific goal in mind.

“I knew my ultimate goal was to have my Ph.D. by the time I was 28,” the 20-year-old shared. “I came in as an accounting major and I immediately established a relationship with the chairman of the accounting and finance department.”

She communicated that goal to the department chair and he advised her to come to N.C. A&T the summer before her freshman year began to get a gauge of the heaviest workload she could handle. Walden completed seven credit hours in the second session of summer school and entered her first year of college as a second semester freshman.

Keeping the momentum going, Walden took a full load of 18 credit hours becoming a sophomore in her second semester. With her sights set on graduating, she continued taking full course loads through each summer session and semester even through participation in the Bakers Private Equity Program, the inaugural class of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Inaugural Undergraduate Finance Leadership Summit and an internship with GE Capital.

“I didn’t like my job,” she said. “My manager and the people I worked with were great. I worked in risk management and I was bored.”

Walden called back to A&T for advice, she connected with a program, Target Hope, in her internship city, Chicago. She took a tour of a university in St. Louis and realized she wanted to complete research in that masters of social work program.

With just 18 credit hours left to complete her accounting degree, Walden changed her major to economics so that she could begin taking the research-centered courses that link to the research she hopes to do as a master’s student in the social work program.

On Saturday, Walden will graduate with a B.S. and a 3.88 grade point average and highest honors and have the opportunity to hear an alumna of the School of Business and Economics, Patricia Miller Zollar ‘84, deliver the commencement address.

Zollar, who will address approximately 800 graduates and their guests, earned her undergraduate degree in accounting with highest distinction from A&T. She is a managing director of Neuberger Berman, an independent asset management firm with $230 billion of assets under management. She is also a partner within Neuberger’s private equity division, managing the NorthBound Emerging Managers Private Equity Fund as well as a number of other strategies focused on private equity partnerships and co-investments.

The ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. Commencement will be streamed live online. The address will be made available Saturday morning via www.ncat.edu.

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