Wyn Fox is always looking to make an impact.
It’s a drive that fueled his 10-year Army career that included four deployments to Afghanistan and Chad to gather military intelligence on terrorist groups.
It’s a drive that helped him earn a Bronze Star.
It’s a drive that also is now bringing him to Chapel Hill for a different kind of mission: earning a business degree.
“Just like in the military, I want impact,” said Fox, 36. “In the civilian world, if I do my job well and I’m working in the right company or leading the right organization, my positive impact on people is more direct.”
Fox is among the more than 4,300 new students who will arrive at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this week. A transfer student, he plans to apply to UNC Kenan-Flagler Business school.
“This was the only school that I applied to,” Fox said. “UNC is just an awesome, amazing opportunity. I’m already excited.”
‘Leap of faith’
Growing up, Fox never seemed like the kind of kid who would end up a solider, he admits.
No one in his immediate family had served, and as a self-proclaimed computer nerd as a child, Fox didn’t run his first mile until he was 25. But, the idea of serving his country – something he was raised to respect – had long been on his mind.
The death of his father and a high school friend became Fox’s tipping point.
At the age of 26, Fox enlisted as an Army cavalry scout and was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he served in an opposing forces training center that prepared soldiers for the direct threats facing them in Afghanistan.
Three years into that role, Fox wanted to find another way to serve his country. He took some time to figure out his next role in the military before deciding on counterintelligence.
After an 18-week counterintelligence special agent course, he was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. Within three weeks, Fox was on his way to Afghanistan for his first of three deployments with the unit’s 3rd battalion.
“Most of my job responsibilities were information collection about the enemy,” he said of his first two deployments. “I was also responsible for a staff of civilians to help me out as far as protection of our guys at their outstations.”
During his third deployment, Fox served as the unit’s special forces operating base counterintelligence agent, overseeing eight special forces detachments who served as the primary fighters in the area.
Fox also worked with Afghan locals to scout locations and gather better intelligence. That effort that led to noticing early signs of the Islamic State moving into the country, and helped Fox earn the Bronze Star.
After three combat tours in Afghanistan, Fox spent his fourth and final deployment in Chad as his battalion’s senior intelligence sergeant. While on the diplomatic mission, he developed and executed a program to train the African country’s Special Antiterrorism Group in intelligence analysis and mission planning.
Fox also served as an advisor for the advanced operations commander on intelligence about the terrorist group Boko Haram. Working with various United States government groups, including the State Department and the DEA, Fox and his team filled in the intelligence gaps in Chad for the rest for the intelligence community.
“The military is not a perfect organization, but I’m proud of the impact I’ve made,” he said.
An ‘amazing opportunity’
When it comes to decision-making, Fox typically turns to Excel spreadsheets.
After his third deployment, when he had been selected to be a warrant officer, Fox created a spreadsheet that laid out his future in the Army to determine his next step. He saw that for many years, his life would be planned out and hold no mystery if he continued on his path.
He decided it was time to move on.
With two years left in his enlistment, Fox began taking classes online.
“The first thing I did was Google ‘Best undergraduate business degrees in the United States,’ and Kenan-Flagler came up,” Fox said. “UNC was the only school that made sense. This place is amazing.”
He plans to study sustainable enterprise and ultimately go on to earn an MBA. The business world, he said, provides the impact and high-stakes he’s looking for in his new career. Fox said his experience in the Army will help guide him in the classroom and allow him to continue making an impact on the world.
“I think the one advantage that military people have is failure as a learning experience,” he said. “Military people learn what failure feels like just through the nature of the organization. You have to learn how to adapt to failure and be stronger for it.”