Gloria Stocks hopes to smooth the way for others in her role as an associate escalations manager at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"I wanted to see more people like me in leadership roles, more of those who have done the foundational jobs," she said.
Stocks is on track to graduate from the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Financial Services program at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in December 2022.
"I have always wanted to get my master's degree," she said. "I thought I wanted a doctorate. I told someone I was going to be 'Dr. Glo.' That's how it started."
Stocks is an empty nester with two sons who are also in college. Miles (25) is a student at North Carolina State University, while Matthew (18) runs track as a student-athlete at Columbia University. The ability to do schoolwork around her schedule and still have family time is big for her.
"Online learning was an adjustment," she said. "I found my way around discussion boards and figured out how to manage my time with a demanding job.
"It was a tough transition because I also moved during my first semester, but I am one to stand up to a challenge. It smoothed out and got much easier. I'm in the home stretch now. It is very flexible."
The online MBA program at UNC Pembroke was appealing to Stocks for several reasons, including a sense of being at home.
"I knew that if I went back to school, I wanted to attend a state-supported school," she said. "I have been paying my taxes, and I wanted to make them work for me. I did not do that for undergrad. The recruiter for UNC Pembroke was instrumental in pushing me to take that leap of faith and get started.
"The friendliness and help they provided were fantastic. They sold me on the flexibility of the program, the ability to do the work when it was convenient for me, and the price."
Stocks was born in New Jersey and raised in North Carolina. After high school, she enrolled at North Carolina Central University as a computer science major. When her mother, Ann, passed away, she quit school and went to work in finance.
"I finally went back and graduated with a bachelor's degree in liberal studies with a concentration in psychology at Belmont Abbey College in 2016," Stocks said, the memory of her mother serving as inspiration.
Stocks still wasn't sure which direction to take her career after completing her undergrad, so she returned to a familiar role at Wells Fargo. While she now feels fulfilled in her role, she wasn't always confident she was on the right path.
"I've moved up the ladder quickly and landed in some great spots. This is where I am supposed to be," she said. "I felt lost for so many years. I've got my footing now. I want to be the best that I can be. I didn't think I was going to stay. Five years later, here I am."
So far, Stocks has especially enjoyed the Personal Financial Planning and Marketing Planning and Strategy courses in UNC Pembroke's online MBA program. She looks forward to the Human Resources Management course since it's in her wheelhouse.
"Personal Financial Planning helped me see my picture a little clearer, which I appreciated," she said. "A lot of what I have learned in the program applies to my current role. I am learning from a manager's perspective."
Once Stocks got into the rhythm of online learning, she hit her stride and continues to thrive in the program. She said it's important to be open-minded and flexible as a student.
"You're going to have rough roads with anything," she said. "With any growth comes some kind of hurdle. Once you jump over those hurdles, you realize that this is something you can do. Enjoy it."
Stocks hopes to move ahead to executive leadership and be a voice for her employees at Wells Fargo once she has the MBA in Financial Services under belt. She chose leadership in hopes of serving as a role model.
"I like to help my associates recognize the talents they already have," she said. "My success is driven by how successful I make everybody I cross paths with."
After Stocks completes the online MBA in Financial Services program, she plans to walk in the commencement ceremony at UNC Pembroke.
"My family and friends are very excited," she said. "It is fun being in school along with my kids. Everybody is excited and surprised I took that leap."
Stocks, who is an active member of Sigma Gamma Rho Inc., has come a long way since her college hiatus. She has no plans to stop learning, growing and advocating for others any time soon.
"I definitely believe that the degree will help open doors for me," she said. "I have had a couple of companies reach out to me about jobs."
She is trying to hold out because she expects to be more marketable in 2023, when she will have completed the online MBA.
"I have enjoyed this program," Stocks said. "I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a school — especially a state-supported school."
Learn more about UNC Pembroke's online MBA in Financial Services program.
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