Greensboro businessman Michael McMillan is the definition of “Aggie born, Aggie bred.” His parents met at North Carolina A&T State University, so it was only right he earned his bachelor’s of business administration from A&T in 1991. He served a stint in the U.S. Marines Corps and later worked in pharmaceutical sales before returning to A&T in 2003 for his master’s in adult education.
Go-getter McMillan owns several businesses including a beard hair care line and public relations firm, but his humble demeanor during an interview signals that he’d rather shed light on his alma mater and HBCUs. On July 3, 2022, he made his first post in Aggie Pride, a Facebook group he created in August of last year where alumni can discuss the university and its happenings in Reddit-like threads. The group has grown to more than 5,000 members.
There’s a few NCAT Alumni groups out there like NCAT Alumni and Ladies of NC A&T, so what inspired you to create your own? Did you feel like something was missing from the ones already established or did you just want to do something different?
No, I just wanted to do something different. Our lane is a little different. In the Aggie Pride group, we try to highlight all the positive things that are taking place around A&T and its campus, athletics or anything that happens socially and economically. We want to keep those things in the loop because we don’t have a lot of communicating threads like you have a lot of times where people can just chime in and go on a long tangent. We might ask a controversial question every now and then to spark interest, but we try to keep it along the lines of a news outlet. We keep updated information and don’t let things stay up for a long period of time. For example, if we have a football game, we want to pump up all the way to the game. Once the game is over we’re gonna leave the results for a couple of days, but then we’re gonna take it down because now we got another game coming up. That’s the only difference I think that I try to do is stay constant and current.
Any plans for the group to meet up for GHOE?
We’ll just post the information about different events and activities for GHOE. There’s so many activities and if you think about it realistically, the activities are based on your class. I’m in the ’90s, so everything that’s going on that I may attend is going to be all the ’90s-era people. So, we’ll just post information where various people are meeting up and having activities, but it won’t be a group thing because the age range in the group is a tremendous disparity. We posted a thread once saying, “Post when you graduated,” and we had people that graduated in the ’60s then we had some that graduated in 2020 so that’s not the same meet, mix and mingle.
Why did you choose to attend an HBCU?
I come from a family of Aggies. My mom and dad actually met at A&T. You know, you just have those exposures to HBCUs, because I had aunts and uncles that graduated from A&T. It was kind of a family thing. I had opportunities to visit other schools when I came out of high school but I chose A&T. I was on a football scholarship so that was one of the driving factors. Plus, the culture, the education, the environment, things of that nature.
What importance do you think HBCUs play in the academic landscape today?
The role of an opportunity is what they play. You have to look at what the majors are. With A&T specifically, our engineering program offers tons of opportunities to young people as it relates to wanting to pursue degrees in engineering. Our school of business is excellent, one of the top not just in the state but in the country also. You just have so many opportunities that individuals can take advantage of. The one thing the HBCU environment does give you is an opportunity to — you don’t really have the extremely large classroom setting that you might have at other institutions. You have small classroom settings, intimate relationships with your professors. You’re gonna still have that small, homely feel within that HBCU community because of the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Kids come from everywhere. A lot of times it’s about exposure and what you might not have been exposed to or relationships you might not have had. This at the minimum gives you an opportunity to feel linked in with your culture if you’ve never had those experiences.
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