Coffee and Statistics To Go
In the past four years, Michael Evans has been on the go: moving from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, studying abroad in Prague, changing majors, growing into an entrepreneur. His next big leap is graduation and focusing on the nonprofit coffee shop he founded during his time here.
Evans is graduating with his bachelor’s degree in statistics in December. As part of the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s degree program, he’s also on track to earn his master’s in statistics from NC State next summer.
He and his dad visited campus the summer before his senior year of high school and fell in love with the university. He decided to apply for the Park Scholarship, but he already knew he wanted to join the Wolfpack even if he didn’t get it. “I was already pretty in love with NC State, and I knew this is where I was going to be regardless,” Evans said.
He got the scholarship. And through his connections within the program, he helped found 321 Coffee, a coffee shop that employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Knowing that 80% of people with disabilities are underemployed, Evans and his fellow co-founders wanted to create a space where those people could find meaningful employment. What started out as a student organization that used dorm rooms as test kitchens evolved into a permanent stand at the State Farmers Market. He and his team didn’t know how successful they would be; the night before opening day, they were focused on figuring out how to work the espresso machine.
“The next day, a crazy number of people showed up,” Evans said. “It’s still one of the busiest days we had. It was amazing to see there was a lot of support around this, and that was the moment we realized this would actually work.”
Although Evans came to NC State majoring in engineering, a conversation with a professor about data analytics in sports piqued his interest in statistics. That’s served him well, as he can see himself continuing to work at 321 Coffee after earning his master’s in statistics next year. He already deals with the business’s finances and logistics, and he’d like to see the company grow.
“The vision for 321 is to have multiple locations and, at least in the Triangle area, 321 Coffee would be a household name,” he said.
It was amazing to see there was a lot of support around this, and that was the moment we realized this would actually work.
He recommends future students be open about trying new things — like trying out statistics despite starting as an engineering major, or traveling across the world to study abroad in Prague for the summer. “We spent eight weeks in Europe, taking great classes and seeing things we’d never seen before. It was an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.
“Take advantage of the opportunities at NC State because there are so many of them to explore what you are passionate about,” he added.