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Joseph Graham

Joseph Graham described going to UNC Greensboro as a “rite of passage” in his family. His grandmother, mother, and brother were all Spartans.

But he was determined to make his UNCG experience different by leaving his own legacy on the University.

Graham, who studied English, wasted no time getting involved on campus. During his first year, he became a freshman senator for the Student Government Association (SGA).

“I had a great start to my college experience. Being involved on campus provided me with a strong network and reliable support system.”

In his sophomore year, Graham became the youngest student body vice president in the University’s recent history at the age of 19. And when the current student body president  stepped down two months later, Graham assumed the position, making him the youngest president in the University’s recent history, as well. He served two terms as president – his sophomore year and senior year.

As president, Graham played a part in several pivotal moments for the University. Most notably, he served as the only undergraduate student on the 24-member chancellor search committee in 2015.

“Welcoming UNCG’s first Black chancellor was a tremendous privilege. He became a real mentor of mine, and I was so grateful for his advice and guidance.” 

He also recalls helping Chancellor Gilliam and his wife understand the dynamics of the student body during their first year on campus and cutting the ribbon to the then-new Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness.

Although Graham describes representing the student body as a huge honor, his most fulfilling experience in college was studying abroad in Lyon, France his first semester of junior year.

“It was life-changing. It opened my eyes and my mind in a way that I couldn’t have experienced while staying on campus.”

Inspired by his experience abroad, Graham decided he wanted to pursue a more global career. 

Once he graduated from UNCG in 2017, he moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University for their International and Intercultural Communication program where he focused on public and cultural diplomacy. 

“I liked that program because I was able to  use my advocacy and leadership experiences from UNCG, and combine it with my old love of writing and my newfound passion for culture and international affairs from studying abroad.”

While in graduate school, he interned at the French embassy and spent another semester studying abroad at the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris before returning to the U.S. to intern at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Upon graduation he worked at Laurel Strategies, Inc., a CEO advisory firm, where he helped advise senior executives in the Fortune 500, world leaders, and business moguls on their messaging, strategy, and communications. 

Today, Graham works at The Executive Leadership Council, a membership organization composed of Black executives in the Fortune 500 and Global 1000, managing communications and media relations for the CEO and the organization.

What’s next for Graham? He hopes to continue being a trailblazer, just as he was at UNCG.

“I’d like to have my own firm one day and support leaders of color – from politicians to business leaders to entertainers – advising them on their communications, strategy, brand, and reputation. And of course, I want to stay involved with and give back to my alma mater.”

His advice to Spartans?

“Think beyond your major: explore more extracurricular activities, study abroad if you can, but most of all, create your own unique experiences that allow you to thrive. Find what you’re truly  passionate and curious about because once you do, you will have decided to live a life that’s full of intention, and there’s no better way to live.”

Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications

 
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