Alumni Spotlight: Charles Rose, Jr., Class of 2014

Date Published: 
September 9, 2016

Charles Rose, Jr. commencement speech

UNC Charlotte civil engineering alum Charles Rose, Jr. started his journey to success as a high school student in the Bahamas. In September he wrote a book about it. The short autobiographical book, entitled Journey to Success: Defy the Odds and Realize Your Dreams, was self-published in August 2016, two years after Charles’ graduation from UNC Charlotte.

Story of Dreams

Smiling CharlesCharles started dreaming about being an engineer when he was in high school in Freeport, Grant Bahama. His friends and family thought he was crazy for wanting to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering from an accredited university in the United States. But this self-proclaimed ‘poor island boy’ didn’t care. He pushed past what he calls the close-minded mentality of island life and started saving money anyway. From the age of 11 until the time he graduated high school Charles had saved $1,550.73. He had been working in the service industry for years and during the last two years of high school, he worked as a summer intern for a civil engineering company.  

Gift of Faith

Knowing that his meager savings were not enough to cover his college costs, Charles pushed past awkwardness and tapped into his network of friends and family. He was able to get support from his local church and civic organizations like the Rotary Club in which he was active during high school. Some money came in the form of a scholarship from the government but he was still $26,500 short of funds on the day he boarded the one-way flight to UNC Charlotte. His biggest donor came after an appearance on a Bahamian TV station. The CEO of SkyBahamas had seen the news story and was moved to pick up the rest of Charles’s expenses. Charles recognizes that his success is a combination of the successes of those around him. Charles has strong faith in humanity but mostly in God.

A Grateful Heart

Journey to Success bookWhile at UNC Charlotte, Charles was active in the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the local church. Once called ‘Mr. Shy Guy’, Charles was seldom without a smile and a kind word. His mother, who sometimes worked five jobs to support Charles and his older sister, is his biggest inspiration. Charles is quick to also credit mentors in the CEE Department for his success. He sees his story as a catalyst to help others achieve their dreams. In 2014, Charles accepted the invitation to take the podium and tell his life-changing success story as part of the College of Engineering commencement exercise.

After years of keeping a journal of his pursuits, he self-published Journey to Success. Engineering continues to be his passion but he is also passionate about inspiring the next generation to discover and pursue their hearts’ desire. He’s come a long way from that small dot of an island in the middle of the Atlanta. Charles landed a job as a civil engineer with Blythe Construction, a nationally recognized Charlotte-based civil construction company, before he even graduated. We expect great things from this CEE alum who dared to dream big, walk in purpose, be thankful, and pay it forward.