Gelbert Duarte celebrated the start of 2022 by landing a new job and enrolling in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Supply Chain Management program at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Duarte works as a transportation compliance training specialist at East Coast Migrant Head Start Project in his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, near Raleigh-Durham.
"It's a nonprofit organization," he said. "I make sure the drivers are compliant. I also create training material and conduct annual refreshers for the drivers. I enjoy what I do."
After researching online master's degree programs, Duarte found what he was looking for with the online MBA in supply chain management.
"It wasn't just the length of time to get an MBA — it was the low tuition cost," he said. "I saw that UNC Pembroke has a good MBA program. The university has a good reputation in North Carolina."
Earning a degree in an online format was also important for Duarte. He and his wife, Hillary, have a 1-year-old son named after him, and the couple is expecting their second son in July.
"I enrolled in the MBA program because I want to advance my career," Duarte said. "UNCP's program is very manageable and has a lot of flexibility. Being online works well for my schedule."
After completing high school, Duarte went on to graduate with an associate degree program in criminal justice at Pitt Community College in 2014.
"I wanted to be in law enforcement," he said. "It's very competitive and a higher risk for lower pay, so I decided to go into the private sector. I was a manager at a pawn shop for a while. I wanted to make more money, so I went to truck driving school. In 2016, I started a new career as a truck driver."
Because most of his credits were transferable, Duarte completed a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Southern New Hampshire University in 2021.
"It made more sense to finish that degree," he said. "I got to see the whole country driving a truck. I especially liked the desert — New Mexico and Arizona."
After gaining real-world experience on the road, Duarte also became a truck driving instructor for A2Z Trucking Academy, where he still teaches in his free time.
He is eager to learn more about his industry from a managerial perspective in the online MBA in Supply Chain Management program.
"I am looking forward to the supply chain and logistics courses," he said. "The first two courses that I took were finance and accounting. I have been able to use what I learned in those courses in my new role."
The transition to the master's degree program was a quick one for Duarte after he completed his undergraduate degree online.
Duarte was already a first-generation college graduate when he enrolled at UNC Pembroke. When he crosses the finish line of the online program in May 2023, he'll raise the bar higher as his immediate family's first advanced degree earner.
"My family and friends are very excited for me," he said. "I'm excited, too. I didn't walk at graduation for my bachelor's degree, but I am planning to for the master's degree."
As Duarte continues along in the program while settling into his new job, he looks forward to taking his career to a new level sometime down the road.
"I'd like to be director of transportation for a company or a system one day," he said. "Having an MBA will help create some of those opportunities for me in the future."
For anybody considering the online MBA in Supply Chain Management program at UNC Pembroke, Duarte recommends thorough preparation before enrollment.
"Understand why you want to get into it," he said. "Know which concentration is best for you. Do the research before starting the program."
With so much going on in his life, Duarte is glad that earning a degree online helps him make time for his family — especially because he also travels often for work.
"Everybody at UNC Pembroke is great," he said. "It's easy to get in contact with the professors. They get back to you quickly when you have a question. The faculty members definitely know what they're doing. It's a great program."
Learn more about UNC Pembroke's online MBA in Supply Chain Management program.
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