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Leaders of tomorrow: HOLD capstone insights

Ahead of the 2024 commencement in May, students of the Human and Organizational Leadership Development (HOLD) program concluded their capstone projects and presented insights from their experiences at a range of different professional organizations during an April 24 symposium in Peabody Hall.

Throughout the spring semester, HOLD students applied their leadership knowledge and skills to professional projects at organizations in and around Chapel Hill.  

Launched in 2021, the HOLD program offers students the opportunity to develop their communication and organizational skills while gaining valuable experiences for leadership careers through cross-listed courses in Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Departments of Communication, Public Policy, and Sociology. This multidisciplinary major provides hands-on experiences for aspiring leaders in various fields, including human resources, education policy and administration, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.  

As part of the program, students are given the space to undertake collaborations with diverse groups of professionals and peers to address challenges within education and other sectors. The program continues to provide tangible skills that elevate students’ leadership qualities.  

The HOLD Capstone Symposium brought together members of the School community to celebrate the students’ semester-long experiences and their achievements.  

To glimpse the capstone experience, five HOLD students shared thoughts from their capstone journey and valuable lessons that shaped them as leaders of tomorrow. 

Meet members of the 2024 HOLD cohort and read more about their capstone experiences: 

Natalia Adamah
Natalia Adamah

Natalia Adamah 

Capstone site: we are  

Partnered with the equity-focused organization we are, Adamah focused her capstone efforts on uplifting the impact of branding and inclusive storytelling on anti-racism.  

“This experience has shaped my perspective on my field of study because it reveals that branding is a critical part of any organization,” Adamah said. “Understanding how to brand yourself and connect with your target audience allows you room for growth and prosperity.”   

Her capstone experience enabled Adamah to make connections and understand organizational communication that leverages diverse perspectives. She said she expanded her leadership knowledge to effectively build a space for growth and prosperity. Adamah said she will continue to carry this capstone experience through her career journey, aspiring to become a well-rounded leader like her mentor Ronda Bullock, Ph.D., executive director of we are, and curating a space for everyone to be their true selves in sharing ideas.   

Katelyn Boyd
Katelyn Boyd

Katelyn Boyd 

Capstone site: UNC Operational Excellence 

In collaboration with eight university departments, Boyd served as an integral member of the UNC Operational Excellence Team to improve the first-year student experience regarding fall registration processes. Boyd’s work on the project design team and her individual contributions to Operational Excellence will ultimately help improve the registration experience by providing personal advisory support and updated registration resources for future incoming classes at UNC. The changes made to the registration processes and resources were implemented on May 1 for the incoming class of 2028.  

The HOLD program and capstone project enabled Boyd to connect with fellow students and campus leaders to deliver new university processes that will elevate the overall Carolina experience for incoming students. Boyd’s participation at Operational Excellence helped cement her perception of explementary leadership and motivated her to pursue a career in consulting. “It really reinforced type of leadership that I want to be able to carry with me to my future career.”  

Next fall, Boyd will attend graduate school at King’s College London to pursue a Master of Science in Human Resources Management and Organizational Analysis. 

Ryan Crowell
Ryan Crowell

Ryan Crowell 

Capstone site: Red Hat  

At Red Hat, Crowell served as a product marketing intern, focusing his capstone project on the efficiency of the blog submission process for employees by automating internal systems and providing editorial guidelines and resources.  

Crowell said this experience provided him the opportunity to connect with employees of diverse needs, expand his problem-solving skills, and understand the root causes of challenges before implementing solutions. 

Being both a HOLD and Kenan-Flagler Business School student, Crowell said he has learned the important intersection of analytical and interpersonal skills within organizations that define leadership as the guide for positive impact.  

“In my professional pursuits, I will always prioritize understanding the people and systems I am a part of to ensure there is a clear purpose behind my work,” he said.  

Miller Ray

Miller Ray 

Capstone site: Toshiba 

For his capstone project, Miller Ray worked with the Learning and Development Team of Toshiba, focusing on the implementation of six critical practices of team leadership and how it can effectively influence the learning management system that employees use. This opportunity enabled him to incorporate his knowledge of professional development practices from his HOLD courses. 

Through the HOLD program, Ray has been  encouraged to pursue his passion for human resources.

“Coming into the program, I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally but figured this program would teach me how to be an effective team member and leader, no matter where I go,” he said. “They delivered on that.”  

Accepted to graduate school at the University of South Carolina to study human resources management, Ray hopes to carry his holistic experience of proactive leadership to build a collaborative space for all future colleagues and employees in his career.  

Kaleb Adair

Kaleb Adair  

Capstone site: McNair Education Foundation 

Having previously been connected with the McNair Education Foundation, Adair was ecstatic to join a team that helped him in his journey from K-12 to higher education as part of his capstone project. Adair said he felt inspired to support students from Rutherford County to be college and career ready. He also said he aimed to bring authentic leadership, a complex trait, to his capstone. 

This is something that I want to carry on into my professional life ,” Adair said. “I believe that as a leader I should be authentic with my employees or co-workers and really create a positive work environment.” 

Adair aspires to take this experience into his future teaching journey and hopefully his own non-profit organization, where he will encourage others to embrace their truth.  

Video credit:  

Samantha Morinville 

Sophomore, Human and Organizational Leadership Development (HOLD)  

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By Kaitlyn Chicas