Congratulations to J.T. Cunningham, Andre Goldsmith and Claire Lewis, who were awarded The Brindell Family Scholarship over the summer. The scholarship, which covers the cost of their tuition in the Undergraduate Business Program at UNC Kenan-Flagler, is awarded to rising juniors with an expressed interest in studying commercial real estate, an outstanding academic record, impressive leadership potential, and financial need. The award can be renewed for the scholars’ senior years if they choose to continue pursuing commercial real estate as a career.
Charlie Brindell (‘71) is a member of the UNC Wood Center Advisory Board, a longtime supporter of the UNC Real Estate Program, and the benefactor for the scholarship. Brindell is a strong believer that leadership skills are honed over time and therefore a sub-initiative of the scholarship outlines exposure to leadership training.
“I view this as a hand-up and not a hand-out,” Brindell said. “I’m seeking to identify students, who not only have the potential to be successful but will diversify leadership in the industry.”
Cunningham, Goldsmith, and Lewis are all business administration majors and also completed real estate internships over the summer as a part of the Real Estate Diversity Initiative in the Wood Center.
Goldsmith, who interned with The Johnson Group, believes commercial real estate is a great fit for him because he is business-minded and has an entrepreneurial spirit. Throughout his networking, he said everyone he has met in the industry has been genuine and helpful.
“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and want to thank the Brindell Family,” Goldsmith said. “This opportunity will allow me to continue pursuing commercial real estate as a career and learn from great mentors like Mr. Brindell himself.”
Cunningham said even though he has family members working in commercial real estate he didn’t initially know if it was the path for him. But after his summer experience with Kane Realty, his sparked interest ignited into a burning passion.
“I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to continue pursuing commercial real estate with the guidance and assistance of the Brindell family,” Cunningham said. “This opportunity means so much to me because I was able to witness and research the lack of diversity within the commercial real estate sector, and I long to expose the industry of commercial real estate to marginalized groups. This scholarship will be a great resource for cultivating my commercial real estate knowledge, as well as passing this knowledge down to those that come after me.”
Lewis said the first time she thought about commercial real estate as a career was when a mall in her hometown closed down and was left abandoned for more than a decade. She said she remembers having ideas about how the building and the land could be better used for the community. Her initial interest in retail came full-circle this summer during her time on the shopping center team at Berkeley Capital Advisors in Charlotte.
“The realization that every building and every development holds the potential to bring about positive change is a driving force in my excitement for commercial real estate,” said Lewis. “I am inspired by the idea that my work could foster economic growth, community development, and enhanced quality of life.”
As a woman, Lewis said receiving this scholarship for an industry that is traditionally male dominated is especially validating.
“Being selected as a Brindell Family Scholar is an incredible honor and a meaningful accomplishment for my career,” she said. “It gives me the confidence that I have the capacity to excel in the competitive field of commercial real estate, especially as a woman. It signifies that my goals and aspirations have been seen as worthy of support, and I intend to make the most of this privilege.”
Though Brindell lives in Dallas, he said he intends to take a personal interest in academic and professional journeys of the Brindell Scholars.
“I intend to meet with the cohort twice each year and use these meetings to develop a personal rapport, so that I can best serve as a mentor for each of them as they launch their careers,” he said. “I ultimately hope this award will inspire and motivate others to give of their time and treasure in a similar way to continue diversifying leadership across the real estate industry.”