Mackenzie Webel is usually more in touch with what’s happening at UNC Kenan-Flagler than her husband, second-year student Aaron Webel (MBA ’14).
As president of Kenan Connection – the partners' organization – Webel might attend a dinner party, bar night or a book club meeting with other UNC Kenan-Flagler partners during a given week.
Since MBA students have typically spent several years in the workforce – their average age is 28 at UNC Kenan-Flagler – many have partners or families to consider when deciding which MBA program to attend.
Support networks like Kenan Connection are a deciding factor for many prospective students. “I think for couples overall, when you’re trying to choose a business school program, you want to choose a place where your family will be supported as well,” Webel said.
Part of that support at UNC Kenan-Flagler includes the business network provided by Kenan Connection, a crucial element for partners who left jobs when they moved to Chapel Hill.
The group began more than 15 years ago as an informal social group and evolved into an officially recognized MBA club that caught Businessweek’s attention for the 2005 article “MBA Family Values.” Meghan Kelley Gosk joined the group when her husband, Chris Gosk (MBA ’98), was a student and says it now has about 120 members and dozens of regular activities. “It has developed into an extremely well-organized group that has strengthened its ties with the MBA Student Association and the MBA Program, said Gosk, now senior associate director for student development in the MBA Program.
“Knowing all that the organization had to offer partners made a difference for my husband deciding to pursue an MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler,” Webel said of Aaron, who is completing the dual MD/MBA Program at the UNC School of Medicine. “I sort of pushed him into this whole thing once I found out that there was so much in it for me,” she joked.
She was excited to have a support network while her husband devoted long hours studying and engaged in professional development activities. “When we started the MBA Program, I jumped into Kenan Connection and started going to everything,” said Webel, who works in the UNC Ophthalmology Department. “It just sort of rocked my world.”
Events fit a variety of interests: wine tastings, monthly yoga classes, Mom's Night Out events, movie and book clubs. “I think Kenan Connection is unique in the number and variety of programs that it offers,” Webel said.
In her leadership role, Webel has focused on building Kenan Connection’s programs for families and international students. One of her favorite events is the annual “Around the World” dinner, a potluck-style event at which students bring dishes from across the globe.
“For me, the experience of being able to make my own group of friends has been so important,” she said. “I can do my own thing. These are people that I’m going to keep in contact with long after we leave here.”
To learn more about Kenan Connection visit its website and Facebook pages.