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Megan Coates: Facing New Challenges with Lessons Learned from Poole

Megan Coates addresses her fellow graduates in 2018 Poole Commencement Ceremony.

Megan Coates, from Kenly, N.C., presented the NC State Poole College of Management’s student address at the college’s Spring Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 12. In her remarks, she reflects on her education with Poole and challenges her fellow graduates to “learn to swim” in this new season of life.

Megan graduated Summa Cum Laude and as an NC State University valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in operations/supply chain management, and a minor in political science.

Megan distinguished herself as an exceptional student during her time at NC State and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies. She also served in leadership roles across campus, including homecoming director for the NC State Alumni Association Student Ambassador Program, founding member and treasurer for the Women in Business Club at NC State, and peer leader with Poole College. Megan was also an active member of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.

Megan is a 2018 recipient of the NC State Alumni Association Mathews Medal, the highest non-academic distinction awarded to students.

Megan completed internships with the NC State Student Alumni Association and the U.S. Congress. Following graduation, Megan plans to teach English and conduct missionary work in Thailand before applying to law schools.

Read her remarks below.

2018 Student Commencement Address by Megan Coates

“Good afternoon, faculty, family, friends, and fellow graduates. As a little girl, I needed to learn to swim. There was just one problem – I was afraid to get into the water. Hoping to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, I told my dad. “When I’m 12, I’ll learn to swim.” My thinking was I would be fit for the task at that point or at the very least it would buy me a few years before I was plunged into the pool. That’s when my kind, encouraging, always positive dad looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Oh, then you’ll never learn to swim.” I was stunned. Did my dad really tell me that I couldn’t accomplish something? Seeing my puzzled look he explained. “If you don’t learn now your fear will only grow. If you conquer the challenge you’ll learn a valuable lesson that you’ll always use.” As badly as I hate to admit it, dear ole Dad was correct, and I faced my fears and learned to swim.

As incoming students at NC State, we were challenged to take initiative and learn in another kind of Poole. In Poole College of Management, we’ve all stepped out of our comfort zones to embrace the many opportunities to learn. In doing so, we have met amazing people, gained memorable experiences, and learned valuable lessons.

For me, it all began with my first class in Poole College: M100. I expected to learn about business, but I didn’t expect to meet so many people who would become influential in my life. I couldn’t have known in that very first class that the girl to my left would become my close friend, confidant, and roommate. The advisors and professors I met became trusted mentors. I still remember walking into Ms. Van Hook’s office the first week of Freshman year. I was freaking out about a Chinese class I that I was NOT ready for. She advised me of my options when dropping the class and was a voice of experience and wisdom encouraging me to excel in my other classes. Through the many courses I’ve taken in Poole, I’ve worked on MANY group projects. I’ve learned to appreciate diversity, differing viewpoints and work with different schedules. Along the way, these group members have become trusted colleagues and friends who over the last four years have encouraged me along the journey.

As we met new people, we’ve taken on new experiences together. We’ve experienced moments of triumph – winning football games, rushing to the Belltower after beating Carolina, studying abroad, getting that first internship, or simply arriving to an 8:30 accounting class ON TIME! We’ve had fun – Just hanging out with friends or joining new organizations like the Finance Club of AMA. We’ve had struggles – That really challenging class – accounting, business law – we all had one, or two… And there is always the universal challenge of deciding what you want to do with your life – many of us are still struggling with that even as we’ve made plans for next year. I’ll be spending next year in ministry in Thailand. Stepping out of your comfort zone and adapting to a new setting – new country, new city, new job – can be daunting, but we can go forward with confidence knowing that every triumph or challenge has taught us valuable lessons that have made us capable of overcoming the obstacles that lie ahead.

We came to college expecting to learn. And we’ve gained a great deal of academic and professional knowledge. I’m graduating with a supply chain management concentration. Before I came to NC State, I couldn’t tell you what a supply chain was, but thankfully I’ve come a long way. Our studies in accounting, economics, English, and history have given a newfound perspective and understanding of the world that allows us to not only be informed citizens but also to make informed decisions. The lessons didn’t stop in the classroom. I’ve learned to lead others. I’ve learned to take initiative, persevere, the importance of integrity… most importantly, I’ve learned to ALWAYS check the weather before I leave class.

Every lesson, every experience, every person has shaped us into the capable people that we are today. Arriving at NC State we jumped in and found our way. Now it’s time dive into a new pool – a new season of life. As we begin (or continue) “adulting” we go forward with knowledge that will assist us along the way. We’ve overcome the challenges. We’ve rejoiced in the triumphs. We now seek to conquer the next challenge. Whatever the path, we all face the new challenges it armed with lessons learned while in this Poole. We can change our corner of the world and leave a lasting impact – I can’t wait to see all of our incredible accomplishments. Thanks Dad for pushing me into the pool and teaching me so much more than swimming. So let’s work class of 2018. It’s time to swim!”