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G. Brint Ryan College of Business.

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Azure Bradger ('23)


Growing up, Azure Bradger remembers her parents separating and losing their house due to a series of poor financial decisions that they didn’t plan for after splitting up. Now, Bradger is becoming a financial planner to help others. 

“I'm certain if my mom had someone like me in her life, someone who could have educated her on the risks and consequences of bad money decisions, things would have turned out differently,” Bradger says. “My motivation is helping people like my parents and helping people in general.”

Bradger first tried her hand at college in 2014, when she majored in biochemistry at UNT. She became pregnant and decided to move closer to family. As Bradger juggled raising a new baby with work and school, she struggled with a low GPA. After trying community college classes and taking a pause from school altogether, she returned to UNT years later.

This past spring, she earned her bachelor’s degree in financial planning with a 4.0 grade-point average in two semesters — embodying perseverance, grit and determination. 

“My heart really found a joy for financial services, more specifically in helping people learn about how to save, plan, invest and reach financial goals. Everyone deserves to enjoy their life, not just work paycheck to paycheck.”

Bradger completed her UNT degree while working full-time at Fidelity Investments. She also has a 7-year-old daughter and helps take care of her disabled mother. Bradger would wake up early each day, work a partial shift, go to classes and then go back to work. Once she tucked her daughter into bed at night, Bradger spent her late evenings studying. 

“I know I’m being an example to my daughter,” Bradger said. “I have spent so much time driving, working early, working late, sometimes bringing my daughter to class and doing anything I can to balance work and school. She wrote me a note saying how she was proud her mama is graduating, and it brought tears to my eyes.”

Bradger plans to go for her certified financial planner designation this fall. The certification exam is a rigorous test that Bradger feels her time at UNT and experience with Fidelity have prepared her for. Her ultimate dream is to help those who need financial planning the most.

“Everyone, no matter their economic background, race or gender, needs resources to build and plan for long-term goals like retirement or buying a house,” said Bradger. “We all use money. Whether your salary is $30,000 or $130,000, everyone deserves to plan for their legacy.”

Published by UNT UBSC, May 2023



Andrej Najdovski ('23)

Andrej Najdovski, an international student from the European country of Macedonia, first learned about UNT from a stranger he met while playing online video games. At that time, Najdovski hadn’t even considered leaving his country to pursue higher education. 

“I found a friend who casually mentioned he had enrolled at UNT, and I guess that just stuck with me somewhere in the back of my mind,” he says.

He began to do research on the best places to go to school in the United States and Texas was number one on the list. He applied to a couple of different schools and was even accepted at Yale, but he ultimately decided on UNT. 

“It turned out to be the best choice that I could’ve ever made,” he says.

In summer 2019, Najdovski landed in America and hasn’t looked back since. Najdovski now plans to use his business degree to join the insurance and risk management industry as an underwriter, or pursue claims and risk analysis. He started an internship at Risk Theory, LLC in the summer. 

“Generally, I don’t have any huge dreams like becoming a CEO or anything. Considering where I started, even the ‘mediocre’ achievements are important to me,” he says.

In Macedonia, he initially planned on doing translation and interpretation as a career, but during his first two years at UNT, he took some business classes which piqued his interest and he decided to pursue logistics and supply chain management. However, while heading to an informational session about UNT majors, he walked into the wrong room. There, he met Nat Pope, associate professor of business, who convinced him to stay and learn about the insurance and risk management track. 

“He told me there were more scholarships than people in this major, so I decided to go into it.”

Najdovski hopes to come back to UNT to pursue a master’s degree. 

When coming to the U.S., he was determined to live a life that was completely different from what he had known back home in Macedonia. 

“There’s not a big Macedonian community in Texas and so I intentionally chose to live here so I could meet people from all different parts of the world. If I’d gone somewhere with a bigger Macedonian population, I know I would’ve just stuck with them.”

This decision didn’t come without its challenges. Najdovski was all alone in a completely different country, which meant he had to learn everything from scratch. 

He credits the advisors and professors at UNT for getting him acquainted with college life, specifically, Professor Nat Pope, and Sally Carne, the advisor for Gamma Iota Sigma, a fraternity Najdovski joined.  


Published by UNT UBSC, May 2023


Yardi Systems

Property management software company Yardi Systems has established The Yardi Scholarship at UNT through a generous $320,000 commitment.
Yardi Systems’ gift will benefit at least eight first-generation business students, in any degree-granting major, by qualifying them to receive partial tuition, annually, for up to four consecutive years.
“Supporting education is a core pillar of Yardi’s corporate philanthropy.  We believe in the life-changing impact of a college degree, especially for first-generation scholars, and we are thrilled to partner with UNT to help these students achieve their goals,” said Senior Vice President Jay Shobe.
Statistically, first-generation students come from lower income households than their counterparts, giving a Yardi Scholarship the tremendous potential for making a transformative difference on students working to launch their future through the power of education.
“We are delighted to announce the Yardi Scholarship and the potential it will have for our first-generation business students,” said Patricia Gregory, senior director of development for the Ryan College of Business. “We currently have more than 2,600 first-generation students enrolled in the Ryan College of Business, which means there is a large eligibility pool for those who can be impacted by Yardi System’s generosity.”


Accounting major passes all four parts of CPA exam prior to walking the stage

Vy Nguyen, recent accounting graduate from the UNT G. Brint Ryan College of Business, passed all four parts of the CPA exam before walking across the stage this spring. This significant achievement showcases Nguyen's dedication, meticulous planning, and the exceptional support she received from UNT's accounting program.

"I think UNT does a very good job of helping its students achieve their goals," said Nguyen. "One of my main goals was to pass all four parts of the CPA exam before graduation, and all the professors and classes that I took helped lead me to this achievement."

Nguyen also emphasized the importance of aligning the exam sections with her coursework to maximize her preparation.

"Planning in detail exactly when to take every section is one of the major steps in creating 'positive' pressure for me to get through this journey," explained Nguyen. "I also arranged my school schedule along with the CPA exam schedule so that I could do both to the best of my ability. I believe that knowing exactly how the 'game plan' should be, made the process much clearer and easier to get through."

In addition to passing all four parts of the CPA exam, Nguyen was selected as the department's 2023 Outstanding MS Accounting Student and graduated from the program Summa Cum Laude—testaments to her exemplary performance and commitment to excellence.

Nguyen's hard work is already paying off.

She has secured a position as an asset wealth management assurance associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, set to begin in September. This achievement reflects not only Nguyen's dedication, but also the recognition of her talent and potential by one of the Big Four.

"The UNT accounting program and department were amazing... I don’t think I could have ever achieved my goals without them. They were preparing me in every way they possibly could, from the technical foundation knowledge to the emerging technologies so that I could be a better-equipped accountant in the workforce."

HR team lands top three at statewide competition

Four students from the University of North Texas (UNT) recently showcased their human resources expertise at the Texas SHRM Student Competition and Conference, held at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

Ezra Poch, Alexis Rucker, Jericha Brock and Isabela Hunt-Riley formed a dynamic team that secured an impressive third place among eight teams representing different universities across Texas.

The competition involved analyzing a case study that simulated real-world HR challenges faced by a company. The team was presented with background information on the company's issues and was tasked with developing innovative solutions to address the situation.

"The goal of the competition was to help us understand the practical aspects of the HR field we will soon enter, while also encouraging us to propose new ideas and approaches to solve problems," explained Brock, an integrated studies major with a focus on human resources and entrepreneurship.

The competition served as a valuable opportunity to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-life HR scenarios.

"These competitions allow us to put the information we learn into practice," Brock stated. "It's fascinating to see different perspectives and hear my teammates' insights throughout the process."

The team's success was attributed to their diverse backgrounds and expertise in HR. With different levels of education and specific HR focuses, their collective knowledge brought a fresh perspective to problem-solving.

Brock noted that even though there were different viewpoints, they were all applicable to the case at hand—and she attributed her own success in the competition to the foundational knowledge she gained from Professor Aguilars' human resource course. The course covered a wide range of HR topics and provided the necessary tools for approaching case studies like the one presented in the competition.

Capital Analytics Associates spotlights UNT Ryan College of Business Dean Marilyn Wiley

What have been some of the biggest highlights for the University of North Texas in the last 12 months?

The University of North Texas is first and foremost very proud of the new campus that we’ve opened in Frisco. It’s a campus designed to serve at least 3,000 students and probably more than that. Our building opened in early January right in the heart of the market growth in the Frisco area next door to the PGA site and other businesses coming in. We will be continuing to offer many of our business degrees there at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels in addition to the broad portfolio of degrees we offer at our Denton campus. We’re still expanding. We are also increasing our focus on corporate and executive education at that campus. Next year, we’ll be offering our Doctor of Business Administration and our professional MBA, which will also be weekend-format programs. So, we are targeting the business community there with the ability to upskill, reskill and grow in their education and leadership.

What’s your take on the current state of higher education in North Texas?

Higher education is in an interesting place. We are still in a location where we’re fortunate to have an increasing student population. The University of North Texas and particularly the G. Brint Ryan College of Business have grown steadily over the past nine years. It’s partly because of the business in-migration and demographics. In the northeast and the central part of the U.S., we’re seeing high school student enrollment decline. So, the population of new college students is decreasing in many areas, in some cases dramatically, and it’s a challenge. We are fortunate to not be seeing that. Another change we’ve seen  was a strong and growing demand for the general business analytics degree, but that is evolving toward a more targeted emphasis on specialized areas within analytics. We are focusing on marketing analytics, healthcare analytics and accounting analytics. What we’re also seeing in higher education in the North Texas region are more students who want a menu of flexible choices in how they acquire their education and their degrees. We are offering some different format online degrees than we had in the past. We are partnering with Coursera for an online bachelor’s degree in general business, which is a very flexible business degree.

Published by Capital Analytics Associates, June 2023


UNT SHRM Mentoring Program connects students with opportunity

The UNT Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Mentoring Program has been matching students with mentors to help build their network, sharpen their skills and become workforce-ready since its inception in 2017. 

And for Cece Lieberman, Fall 2023 OBHR candidate, she is already reaping the program’s benefits thanks to her mentor and UNT alumnus, Laney Lockhart (’00).

“The biggest benefit from our relationship is the connections I have made through him, and having someone in my profession to give me advice and steer me in the right direction,” explained Lieberman.

With her academic career being supplemented by monthly meetings of guidance and support from someone in her desired field, the mentoring program has enabled Lieberman to grow both personally and professionally.

“The most exciting aspect of being a mentee, in my opinion, was having someone to celebrate my accomplishments with,” explained Lieberman. “[Laney] is always rooting for me and encouraged me to apply to different internships; so when I received the good news of an offer letter I knew he would be there to cheer me on.”

Lockhart, who serves as the CEO of Exceptional Life Coaching, helped Lieberman secure a competitive internship with Peterbilt Motors Company last May, which she hopes will serve as a valuable stepping stone in her HR career.

But Laney is not the only one benefiting from the mentoring program.

“I decided to apply to be a mentor because I have had the opportunity to see, firsthand, how learning and career development can be expedited through this process,” explained Lockhart. “My biggest takeaway is that both party members get to learn from each other and enrich their lives.”

Laney and Lieberman’s mentorship is just one of many success stories to come from the UNT SHRM Mentoring Program. Most participating mentees land respected internships as a result of the connections they make—and nearly all recommend others to follow in their footsteps.

“Overall, I believe this program helped me more than I could have thought, and I would recommend others to join,” said Lieberman.

If you are looking to enrich your life and the lives of others through UNT’s mentorship programming, please consider setting up a profile on Mean Green Mentors, or contact UNT’s SHRM chapter advisors: Mariya Aguilar ( and Erin Welch (

More than a Museum

Jarred Howard ('95) had a calling.

He wanted a site that would celebrate Juneteenth while also accurately reflecting the passion and culture of the Historic Southside neighborhood in Fort Worth — his hometown.

But, he says, "For the first several years, it was just me."

Since he came up with the idea seven years ago, he has built a foundation for the development. He laid out plans, sought out real estate and recruited board members, staff and other stakeholders.

Now, he is CEO of the National Juneteenth Museum, which will commemorate the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned that they were free—two-and-a-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The site is expected to open in 2025.

"The vision is, quite frankly, God-given, but it's mine," he says. "The board wanted me to be the guy that executed it."

Leveraging the latest technology, the museum will tell the story of Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday in 2021.

"We hope to inform and educate as much as anything else," he says.

The 50,000-square-foot space, on the corner of Rosedale Street and Evans Avenue, also will include a food hall, theater and a business incubator with retail space. The organization already launched Uniting Voices, the National Juneteenth Museum Speaker Series, featuring activist and Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson.

"This development is more than the museum," Howard says. "The museum is the anchor that will catalyze economic development in Fort Worth."

The museum boasts other connections to UNT. Lauren Cross, assistant professor of interdisciplinary art and design studies in the College of Visual Arts and Design, is the museum's executive strategist — a role in which she will develop the museum's curatorial plan, programming and organization. Board members include Deah Berry-Mitchell, a doctoral student in history, and Sydney Jones, a doctoral student in political science at UNT and adjunct faculty at UNT Dallas.

And Howard frequently talks to Opal Lee ('63 M.Ed.), who earned the title of "Grandmother of Juneteenth" for her tireless advocacy to make it a federal holiday. Lee recently received an honorary doctorate from UNT.

"We work in lockstep with each other," Howard says. "She was one of the first people I connected with this."

Howard was working on this vision while maintaining a career in various corporations. The marketing major, who grew up in Fort Worth, says he learned much of the principles of business from the late Barbara Coe, a professor in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business.

Published by Jessica DeLeón, UNT, 2023



Alumnus Wilson Jones (’85) and his wife, Jane, donated $5 million to the college in 2022 to create a new career center in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business. This generous gift will not only go towards the build out of a space that will serve to better prepare students for successful careers, but it will also fund the hiring of new staff and resources to support the college's growing student body. Working in conjunction with this gift, the Wilson Jones Endowment for Ryan College of Business Career Support Services will provide additional assistance to reach these goals and support services that promote career readiness.

Frank Dudowicz was an ardent supporter of the G. Brint Ryan College of Business. Before he passed away on May 1, 2022, one of his final requests was to have memorials be made to the Ryan College of Business Communications Support Fund, a testament to his ongoing efforts to be a positive force in the UNT community. Donations made to the Communications Support Fund aid Dudowicz’s most recent board efforts to increase brand awareness for the Ryan College of Business. Click here to honor Frank's memory with a gift.



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