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YOUniversity Drive's Masterminds, Millionaires & Moguls at UNC Charlotte

Courtesy of Darling Media Group

The third edition of YOUniversity Drive’s Masterminds, Millionaires and Moguls™ drew a capacity crowd to UNC Charlotte on Wednesday.

The event marked the one-year anniversary of the organization, which was founded by Michelle Horton to help first generation college students. The event in UNCC’s Student Union movie theater marked an expansion of the program that started at Johnson C. Smith University.

YOUniversity Drive is a finalist in the 2012 Charlotte Venture Challenge competition organized by UNCC’s Charlotte Research Institute and The Ben Craig Center.

Masterminds, Millionaires and Moguls is one of YOUniversity Drive’s signature events. The goal is to make students aware of and provide access to the numerous successful business leaders in the Charlotte region. UNCC’s Division of Student Affairs, the Multicultural Resources Center and United Black Professionals co-hosted Wednesday’s event.

Panelists were: Manwell Bynum, president of Connectivity Concepts; Masherrill Koonce, owner of Charlotte Optometric Center; Nigel Long, founder of Trade Street Advisors; Mimi Sabates, business director at Legacy Talent & Entertainment; and George Forrest, owner of five Charlotte-area McDonald’s.

Forrest, like many students in the audience, is a first generation college graduate. His parents didn’t finish high school. Other panelists grew up in entrepreneurial families. Their mix of life and work experiences is a key element to Mastermind’s formula.

“There’s no one set way to become successful,” Forrest said. “We all have different experiences, we all come from different backgrounds. We all overcome different challenges. The key is what you can glean from it.”

Wednesday’s Masterminds, Millionaires and Moguls drew at least 200 people. The audience consisted of a mix of community members as well as students from high school, JCSU and UNC Charlotte. Panelists shared personal stories and practical advice. They addressed everything from starting a business to finding success at a corporation to balancing work and family.

Joshua Smith, a Livingstone graduate, said he was particularly impressed by Long, Bynum and Forrest .

“It inspired me to jump out and not be turned down,” said Smith, who described himself as a struggling young black man. “Seeing three black men like that really touched my heart.”

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