UNCG alumnus found lesson in rocky start: ‘I want to light the way’

Posted on May 25, 2023

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The start of Gene Mance Jr. ‘18’s college career at UNC Greensboro was anything but smooth. But looking at him now — a Bryan School of Business and Economics Business Administration graduate, senior project program manager for AT&T, and recent alumni panelist at the Bryan School’s Bright Futures Dinner — you’d never guess Mance was academically suspended for falling behind in his freshman classes. 

“I learned a lot during a semester back home, and I just knew I had to get back to UNCG,” he said.  

After taking courses at a community college while at home in Gastonia, N.C., he did just that. Mance excelled in his courses while serving as a Bryan Student Ambassador, completing two internships with Reynolds America and Charles Aris, and networking with employers during Company Spotlight events.  

He was also a part of the National Millennial and Gen Z Community and sent on a professional development trip to Los Angeles to represent the Bryan School. It was during that trip that he connected with his future employer, AT&T. 

Mance speaking at the Bryan School’s annual Scholars and Donors Luncheon in 2018.

Beyond his list of Bryan School extracurricular activities, Mance carried out several leadership roles on campus as a member UNCG’s student government, as well as a part of the community and culture organization, The Conversation. By the time Mance graduated in 2018, he was a completely different student than he was four years before. 

“I really found my way. I saw the way people at UNCG, and the Bryan School invested in me, and I felt emboldened to be a leader. I felt that my voice mattered, and I’ve taken that into my current job,” Mance said.  

Mance took the confidence gained at the Bryan School to the workforce, landing a role in client solutions after completing AT&T’s sales development program. He eventually worked his way up to a senior role in project program management where he leads an employee engagement team and focuses on employee retention, among other duties.  Mance also spends time working with the Chamber Young Professionals Board and the Chamber Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board in his current city of Dallas.

Describing himself as a “big goal writer,” Mance recalls writing out a goal at the beginning of the year to get more involved in the Bryan School. 

“This place and these people gave me the foundations and expanded the way for me,” Mance said. “I want to do that for another student — I want to light the way for them.” 

Mance speaking at the Bryan School’s Bright Futures Dinner in March 2023.

When he was invited back to campus as an alumni panelist for the Bryan School’s Bright Futures Dinner in March, Mance accepted without hesitation, eager to pay it forward and share his lessons with students and fellow business leaders.  

“Being back here felt like coming home,” Mance said. “Interacting with students reminded me of how much UNCG and the Bryan School shaped me. There’s a diverse population here that brings all kinds of perspectives to the table, and I think that is really important in business.” 

Mance said he hopes to continue his involvement with the Bryan School and would like to eventually mentor students. 

“There is a quote by Maya Angelou that has always resonated with me: ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give,’” he said. “That’s my why — to use business as a vehicle to do impactful work.”  


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