Charles Stewart

The Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Engagement and Leadership is one of the most prestigious awards the University of Minnesota offers. Presented once a year by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, this award is open to those students who have also earned a President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, which is only bestowed on one-half of one percent of the student body.

The McEvoy Award is given to the one graduate and one professional student best possessing a sense of outreach and dedication to the community. This year’s graduate student winner is Charles Stewart of the MBA Class of 2015.

During his time at the U, Stewart has engaged the community in numerous ways. As a Carlson Ambassador Fellow, he reaches out to prospective students by answering questions, providing interviews, and giving tours of the school. As a member of the Graduate Volunteer Consultants, he offers free business consulting services to non-profit companies in the Twin Cities. And, as a student of color, he speaks with high school students about the importance of higher education and offers tips about selecting and preparing for college. He recently became a mentor in the Black Graduate and Professional Students Association’s Each One Reach One mentoring program, where he mentors a student of color at the U.

However, as a Marine Corps Captain, Stewart recognizes that most of his meaningful work at the U has come from being president of the Carlson MBA Veterans Club. Last year, he held a leadership panel to discuss the difference between leading and managing, featuring panelists from 3M, Deloitte, and Polaris, as well as an active duty Brigadier General. Besides being successful business leaders, all the panelists had military experience. This year, the club hosted an active duty Major General to speak about the importance of mentorship. In addition, the club has held several events with major employers in the Twin Cities who have an interest in connecting with veteran MBA students.

Stewart also spearheaded the Carlson School’s annual Toys 4 Tots drive last year. Run by the U.S. Marine Corps, Toys 4 Tots collects new toys for less fortunate children in the local area.

Finally, Stewart initiated an event called Military 101 designed to educate non-veteran students about the backgrounds of their veteran classmates (now numbering 35 in the MBA program). Military 101 also served as a forum of open discussion where attendees could talk about the challenges veterans face as well as the attributes they could bring to the class and potential employers.

“Open, honest communication between employers and veterans is necessary to pinpoint the friction points in the hiring process, identify the value that veterans can bring to an organization, and to identify the gaps in skills in knowledge that veterans possess,” he says. “Only when you have done these three things can you develop a process to bring employer and employee into a voluntary, mutually beneficial agreement that fulfills the needs of both the organization and the employee.”

Stewart says that with the support of the Carlson School, these three items have been achieved in the local community.

“One hundred percent of veterans who have completed the MBA program since the focus on veterans began have found employment, and the average compensation level has been significantly higher than the school’s average,” he says. “In addition, employers in the Twin Cities have a greater understanding of their own hiring processes and needs, which is enabling them to better evaluate the candidacies of veterans who do not come to them from the U.”

Stewart receives a $1,000 scholarship as part of the McEvoy Award and will be honored at the President’s Award Banquet on April 28.