In 2017, Lieutenant Junior Grade Margaret Gresham who now currently works as a Civil
Engineer in Cary, NC, and serves in the Navy Reserves as a Civil Engineering Corps
Officer had an opportunity to completely shift gears in her career. She was feeling
unfulfilled in the engineering discipline and craved a career in which she could have
a greater impact on the nation's most valuable asset: its people. A position to
serve as an Officer recruiter became available in Durham, NC. She had never worked
in the recruiting space. As anxious as she was about stepping out of her comfort zone,
she was willing to take a risk and put in the effort to thrive in the HR industry
to impact an organization (the Navy) that she loves.
During the following two years, LT Gresham became one of the top recruiters in the nation, receiving a Recruiter of the Year award for the east region in 2019, 2020, and 2021. As she excelled in her new role, it became evident that this was the community she wanted to continue to serve within the United States Navy. To accomplish this goal, LT Gresham needed to make herself a competitive candidate, which would require a master's in Human Resources and some professional certifications.
She started the MSHR program at Western Carolina in January 2020. In her very first semester, she took HR 605 and HR 614. These two courses changed her life forever. As she read page after page of text, Margaret fell more in love with HR as a discipline. It became evident that it was her calling in life. Over the next two years, she threw herself into her studies while working. To date, LT Gresham has assisted over 100 Navy Officers in joining various communities ranging from chaplains, civil engineers, pilots, intelligence officers, cryptologic warfare officers, surface warfare officers, JAGs, and many more.
In 2020, because of her HR670 coursework, she presented a research paper on Leadership in the US Navy at the Association of Human Resource Development with the help of a class team and Dr. Germain as her advisor. In 2021, as a result of Dr. Lekshiri's Performance Development course, LT Gresham developed a performance management system for officer recruiters that has now been implemented across 13 districts in the Eastern region of the United States, impacting more than 250 officer recruiters. In June 2021, LT Gresham obtained her SHRM-CP certification, and in October 2021 her PHR. With these achievements under her belt, it was time for the ultimate test. In September 2021 she applied for the very competitive position of Human Resource Officer in the United States Navy. Subsequently, she was one of only 10 in the nation to be selected for this role.
Margaret will soon be picking up a department head tour in Washington D.C where she will serve as a Human Resources officer serving the Navy full time. She will be able to lead and manage a department of over 300 people working in the Human Resources field. Her leadership and work will impact programs that will be implemented across the Navy, which serves over 450,000 military personnel and over 280,000 civilians.
Margaret feels that the Master of Science in Human Resources program at Western Carolina University changed her life. Thanks to it, she will be able to change thousands of other people's lives through the HR community.
2019 Graduate Commencement Speaker
Since I graduated in 2019, I was promoted from an HR Manager to a Senior Manager, Talent Management. During that time I've led performance management, learning and development, and engagement and inclusion for a $4B business segment of more than 13,000 employees. One of my key accomplishments was leading a company-wide project team to design and deploy two leadership development programs - one online and another instructor-led - for more than 5,000 managers across the enterprise. Most recently, I am in the process of transitioning to a new role with another company. I'll be starting as the HR Director leading HR, talent acquisition, and benefits for a business unit with international scope in the defense industry.
Regional HR Business Partner, Aprio
Following the completion of my MSHR in 2018, I advanced my scope of work and experience in my former HR Generalist positon. I recently accepted the position of Regional HR Business Partner for a growing organization in the professional services industry. I'm confident the MSHR program helped to shape my strategic HR thought process, which is what set me apart from other applicants. I'm looking forward to continuing my growth path and this new endeavor.
William Stadler has worked in various disciplines throughout his career from technical
design engineering to software solution sales, coaching and mentoring. From a career
spanning over 15 years, nothing has brought him greater satisfaction than Human Resources,
which was the catalyst for him joining the WCU's Master's in HR program (MSHR) in
2016. Upon completion of the program, he has built HR departments from the ground
up in several different industries, including manufacturing and distribution, marketing
and advertising, and software as a service. The ability to utilize strategic HR to
meet business needs and client needs, in William’s estimation, is highly attributed
to his consulting coursework in the MSHR program's HR Consulting Initiative, which
has given him the tools to analyze complex problems and provide impactful solutions
to those problems. Today, William works as an HR Business Partner at the open-source
software organization Red Hat (an IBM company), focusing on strategic people development
and scalable organization development. This has been William's dream job for many
years and he attributes his success to the strong foundation he acquired through the
“The most important thing about Human Resources is being authentic. The HR Consulting coursework in the MSHR program taught me the importance of being true to my values and to the values of the clients I support. Without question, this has been my guiding principle in every conversation I have, in every platform I build, and in every decision I make.”
EVP & Chief of Staff, Tupelo Honey, Asheville
As a graduating member of the MSHR community from the class of 2015, I am pleased to share my post-graduation story. Shortly after graduation, I joined Asheville, NC based Tupelo Honey Hospitality as the founding HR team member where I’ve spent the past 7 years building at world-class people-centric organization. I am very pleased to share a few exciting announcements to culminate the last 7 years of hard work. This past January 2020 I was awarded the OnCon Icon Award as - Top 25 HR Professional. Award Winners were determined from over 4,500 votes, and selection based off of a peer recognition of performance, impact and contributions. Winners represent many of the most senior leaders from the world’s top organization. Perhaps even more exciting in February of 2020 my organization, Tupelo Honey, was awarded the 2020 Best Places to Work Award issued by the Business Intelligence Group, as voted on by our team members. I am so appreciative of the solid foundation for HR Leadership and business acumen that my professors, peers, and community through the WCU MSHR program provided me and am looking forward with much anticipation and excitement for the future of our company, as well as the many companies who will benefit from the past and future graduates of the MSHR program at WCU.
Alex Hall is currently the AVP & Sr. Director for Learning and Talent Services at Liberty Mutual Insurance based in Boston, MA. In this role, Alex oversees the company's enterprise-wide early talent development programs, digital products, project management office, and learning delivery teams for Global Leadership, Learning, and Talent. Alex's experience has included compensation design, succession planning, competency model development, performance management, and talent planning. Alex has held roles in program management, strategic planning, and now operational leadership, Throughout his tenure at Liberty Mutual, Alex completed his Master's in HR and will complete his MBA and Master's in Finance with Northeastern University in August of 2022. Passionate about hiking, running, and spending time with friends, Alex and his partner, Adam, live in the South End of Boston and travel often. Alex continues to be engaged with our program providing counsel to HR consultants and continues to serve on our MSHR program advisory board. Alex was an active pro bono HR consultant for the MSHR Consulting Initiative, a service for which he received the WCU Peak Performer award in 2015.
The MSHR Consulting Course at WCU has been one of my most favorite courses in the program.
I love the hands-on experience and it gave me the confidence to see that I can achieve
any of my goals as a human resource professional. Katelyn Kasper, MSHR Class of Fall 2018
One of my favorite courses within WCU’s MSHR program was HR 671.
You gain not only the confidence and know how to address a nonprofit’s needs and concerns, but valuable
HR experience and professional contacts that will help you with future work endeavors post-graduation. Brittany Noll, MSHR Class of Fall 2018