What’s ahead for college grads staying in Charlotte?

Five, four-year institutions in the Charlotte region – Belmont Abbey College, Davidson College, Johnson C. Smith University, Queens University of Charlotte and University of North Carolina at Charlotte — combined will graduate almost 5,000 students this May. I asked each of these schools to choose one May graduate staying in Charlotte to be interviewed. Each student was asked about their new job, their favorite experience in Charlotte and how they hope to contribute to the community. Here’s what they had to say:

David Freeman, 22

Photo 2 Credit Sam Ulrich

Hometown: Hickory, NC

Belmont Abbey College: Bachelor of Arts, Motorsports Management

Job: Manufacturing Coordinator at Joe Gibbs Racing. I will be working closely with each department creating, executing and closing jobs upon completion.

Charlotte favorite: NoDa in Charlotte. It’s a nice area to see art, free your mind after a long week and have some really good food.

Do good: I would like to help out with supporting community charities and nonprofit organizations through Joe Gibbs Racing.

Natalie Blundell, 22

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.40.42 AM

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Davidson College: Bachelor of Arts, History

Job: Education Special Projects Fellow at the Arts and Science Council. I will coordinate exciting projects and help engage Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in creative programming.

Charlotte favorite: About a year ago, I discovered the laid-back Sycamore Brewery. Their outdoor patio and dog-friendly culture remind me of Seattle. Later, my friends and I enjoyed Food Truck Friday, which poses a huge dilemma for any foodie!

Do good: I feel lucky to be moving to such a dynamic, authentic city upon graduation. I look forward to challenging community members, Charlotte-Mecklenburg students, friends and colleagues to think critically about how to foster inclusivity in their daily lives.

Ed Whitley, 51

Photo 4 Credit Ed Whitley

Hometown: Hamlet, NC

Johnson C. Smith University: Bachelor of Science, Business Administration/Management

Job: Owner at EW Lawncare. My degree will enable me to pursue more contracts and manage the business more effectively.

Charlotte favorite: My favorite experience in Charlotte has been raising my now two young adult children in a growing city.

Do good: I hope to inspire more African-American men to obtain a degree. With hard work and commitment, it is possible. It is never too late to go back to school and achieve your dreams and desires.

Jalen Burrell, 21

Photo 5 Credit Dominique Stone

Hometown: Fort Mill, SC

Queens University of Charlotte: Bachelors of Arts, Human Services

Job: Case manager assistant and life coach in practice at Q Foundation. I will help case managers provide services for recently released convicts. I will teach anger management workshops to middle and high school students.

Charlotte favorite: One of my experiences in Charlotte was enjoying the Panthers and Hornets games.

Do good: I will join the 100 Black Men organization and continue to mentor and strengthen children’s confidence to allow them to grow positively. In the near future, I hope to start my own basketball clinics for kids who are at risk in school.

Britt Nunn, 21

Photo 6 Credit Stephanie Chesson

Hometown: Apex, NC

University of North Carolina at Charlotte: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Finance and Management

Job: Leadership Development Pipeline Program at Wells Fargo. I will be working in the international group. At the end of the program I will be working in global treasury, managing international customers.

Charlotte favorite: One of my favorite experiences in Charlotte was attending Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time this (past) year. It was great to see the Charlotte community come together and a great way to spend Thanksgiving with my family and friends.

Do good: Volunteering for my community is a huge passion of mine. I hope to continue to give my time to help benefit organizations such as the Safe Alliance shelter, Crisis Assistance and the Food Bank.

Photos: Wade Bruton, Sam Ulrich, Aly Dove, Ed Whitley, Dominique Stone, Stephanie Chesson