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April 2, 2024

Gracie Mayer Wins in the Classroom and on the Soccer Field

Guilford's standout soccer player loves Guilford's business perspective of stressing people as much as profit. 

With graduation approaching in the spring of 2023, Gracie Mayer ‘23 wasn’t exactly sure what her next steps would be. And then she was encouraged to apply for a Guilford College Presidential Fellowship within Guilford College’s MBA program. That step brought a new direction to her life, and has opened doors for her future.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Gracie to talk about her experience within the MBA program and its impact on her life.

"I think it’s important to find something you're passionate about, and find a way to learn more, whether that’s pursuing graduate school or just learning from other people."

Gracie Mayer '23
Guilford MBA student

What made you decide to get an MBA?
Coming out of Guilford with a major in Environmental Studies, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do as far as a career. But one of the great things about Guilford is the relationships you make while you’re here on campus. I heard about the MBA program, and was invited to apply. Talking with Michael Dutch (Director of Guilford’s MBA program), I could see how business is a part of everything. Whatever career path I choose, whether it’s in sports, environmental agencies, non-profits, or education, having a masters’ degree in business provides a great foundation and really opens up a lot of possibilities.

Why did you choose the program at Guilford College?
Of course, having gotten my undergraduate degree here, I was already familiar with the campus and love everything about Guilford and the values it presents. Within the Guilford College MBA program there is a strong focus on ethics. I thought it was important to see a perspective in the business world that teaches us how to be changemakers and see people over profit. For me, that is what sets it apart from other MBA programs. Staying on at Guilford also gave me the opportunity to finish out my soccer career. During my freshman year, my soccer season was cut short because of COVID, so I had one more year of eligibility. I wasn’t planning to stay and play soccer, but when the MBA Fellows opportunity came up, I was able to continue to play. I really appreciate the opportunity to have another season with Coach Justin and this team. They are like a family to me, and have been an integral part of my experience at Guilford.

What is your trick to balancing school, work and soccer?
To be honest, you really don’t realize how busy you are when you’re in the moment. But once soccer season ended and I had a chance to look back, I said, ‘gosh, I don’t know how I did it!’ For me, the key is learning to focus. When I’m at work, the task at hand has my full attention. Then when I’m at soccer I’m fully committed to the practice or the game. And of course, when I’m in class and studying, that has my full attention. On top of that, I find it’s important to schedule down time. Taking intentional time to rest is very important to being successful in all facets of my life. I’m not the only one in this program wearing multiple hats, some of my peers have full-time jobs and are parents as well. The professors are great at helping students adjust and being flexible when necessary.

What has been one of the highlights of the program for you?
My favorite class was Marketing in the Digital Age, taught by Dennis Cole. We learned how to market to different audiences based on age, demographics, and backgrounds. One thing we did was we analyzed last year’s Super Bowl ads, we talked about the different media strategies. When this year’s Super Bowl came on, I saw the commercials completely differently.

What advice can you give for students overwhelmed at the thought of life after college?
I think it’s important to find something you're passionate about, and find a way to learn more, whether that’s pursuing graduate school or just learning from other people. When you talk to people and expand your network, you never know where it will lead. Networking has been a big benefit of being within the Guilford College MBA program. I’ve learned so much from my professors, my peers, and all the people we’ve been able to speak with through the program.