While it’s not uncommon for students to come to the Bryan School later in life to reshape their career, Fabiola Henriques’ life change was a bit bigger than most. Formerly an optometrist in Brazil, Henriques came to the Bryan School to launch a new career in finance.
Henriques never enjoyed working in ophthalmology, so she changed the focus of her career to medical commercial sales. When her husband’s job took them to the United States, it was time for a major decision.
“I checked what I needed to do to work with optometry here in the United States and then I would have to go back to school anyways. And I said, ‘You know if I’m going back to school, why don’t I do something that I love?’” Henriques had always had a passion for business and finance, so when the opportunity arose for her to change careers, she took it and never looked back. “I decided to start over from scratch.”
Henriques earned her associate’s degree from a community college in Michigan and went on to the University of Michigan. Not long after starting her degree, her family packed up to move again. This time they were headed to North Carolina, as her husband was offered a job at Volvo. “When I was looking for local colleges here, not every school had a finance degree.” Henriques was initially drawn to the Bryan School for its location and variety of majors. “I was very surprised when I joined here,” recalled Henriques. “The faculty were approachable and academic advisors were nice and supportive.”
One enrolled in the Bryan School, Henriques did not hesitate to get involved. She took it upon herself to reinstate the Spartan Investment Club and soon became president of the organization. Through the Spartan Investment Club, Henriques had the opportunity to engage with other student leaders through the Bryan School’s President’s Council. “Being a real local leader for a group, I think it was a good experience for me, I got good learning experience and you get good exposure within the school.”
In addition to being involved in student organization, she also took advantage of professional development opportunities such as Company Spotlights. “I think I attended all the Company Spotlights during my time here,” said Henriques. “Those are the things that I think really make a difference.” She didn’t just show up at events. She always made sure she was prepared to network and make connections. “When I came to Company Spotlights, I brought business cards and exchanged business cards so when they had, for example, an internship position that came open I would go back and contact that person that was at the Company Spotlight.” It was the extra efforts like leading a student organization and attending networking events that helped Henriques become a successful student. “If you are really dedicated and get involved inside the Bryan School, I am going to say that you will succeed here,” said Henriques.
Prior to earning BS in finance in May 2019, Henrique accepted an offer from BB&T for their Leadership Development Program. This eight-month program is designed to provide an in-depth study of BB&T’s services, leadership, and the financial services industry. Upon completion, there will be opportunity for her to receive another offer for a full-time position within the organization.
This program only accepts roughly 15 students each year and Henriques was the only student selected from UNCG.
Henriques’ success at the Bryan School did not come without determination and a strong work ethic. “Since day one at community college I set the bar high.” To be a successful student, she advises others to keep up with assignments to maintain a high GPA. “A lot of people say, ‘Your GPA doesn’t matter.’ I’m going to say it still matters. You really need to dedicate yourself and work hard from day one.” She also stresses the importance of getting involved with on-campus organizations. “If you are involved, you are going to meet more people, you are going to meet more professionals, and you’re going to have better chances of networking. You never know where you are going after school.”