Trent Michels

Program (Full-Time, Part-Time): Full-Time

Concentration/Area of Emphasis: M.S. in Real Estate and MBA

Anticipated Graduation (Month & Year): 2021

Undergraduate Institution and Degree: The United States Military Academy - B.S. Defense and Strategic Studies with a Minor in Counter-Terrorism and an Environmental Engineering track

Favorite Place in Charlotte: Lucky Dog Bark and Brew

Hometown: Salem, Oregon    

Dream Job: Real Estate Developer

"I wanted to be able to be part of a detailed investment program that would allow me to experience both sides of the development coin while also getting hands-on investment experience."

What degree are you pursuing and why?

I am pursuing a dual MBA and Master's in Real Estate Finance and Development in hopes of bridging the gap between my military career and a successful civilian career. On exiting the military I really struggled to transition from being medically discharged to a career path I could grow and develop in. I started my own security firm with other West Point graduates to give civilians access to Special Forces tech, but that went under. I then transitioned to being a Police Officer until it became too stressful for my family life, and eventually pivoted into commercial real estate. The firm that I was attached to lacked the capabilities to grow my understanding of the real estate process and fulfill on development opportunities, so I went looking for it myself. This ultimately led me to UNC Charlotte. The MBA and MSRE programs at UNC Charlotte will give me the tools, network, and support to better myself, my family, and all those I come in contact with. I feel it will also ensure that whatever organization I find myself with, I will be prepared to be a contributing member of their management team. 

Why did you choose the Belk College of Business over others?

I chose the Belk College of Business over other schools because of the access to the student-managed real estate investment fund. I wanted to be able to be part of a detailed investment program that would allow me to experience both sides of the development coin while also getting hands-on investment experience. It’s a very unique opportunity that UNC Charlotte offers. The Belk College of Business also allows for a dual program with an MBA. This allows me to overlap required courses ensuring that I am the most well-rounded graduate I can be.

What activities are you involved in when not working/studying?

When not working/studying, I try to spend as much time with my wife and one-year-old son as possible. This involves either hiking or getting out and about around Charlotte. I also have been powerlifting since 2010 and never go more than a day without stepping foot in a gym. I run a remote strength training company,, that works with athletes, soldiers, bodybuilders, and powerlifters. Helping people achieve their ideals in fitness has always been a joy of mine.

What has been the best part of your academic experience so far? 

The best part of the experience so far has been the staff and instructors at the business school. They have been more than helpful and instrumental in my development. They continue to not only make each class instructional but fun and engaging. 

How would you describe the Belk College of Business to someone considering a master’s program?

The Belk College of Business is something that you need to experience to truly understand. From your fellow students, instructors, and support staff, everyone here is invested in you succeeding in the program. I would recommend it to anyone in Charlotte who is looking to not only improve their knowledge base but to increase their community and opportunities.

How valuable do you feel this degree will be to your career?

This degree means everything to me. Coming from the United States Military Academy, I never dreamed I wouldn't be in the Army. After exiting due to injury, I believe that an MBA and a Master's in Real Estate Finance and Development is the only way to ensure my marketability and create a positive future for myself and my family outside of the military. The pursuit of this degree has given me hope for a much brighter future.