Sara Miller Q&A: Organ donation nonprofit grows since WashU founding

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Sara Miller, BSBA ’17. Sara is putting her healthcare management studies to use in her role as process improvement analyst at Mount Sinai Health System. Additionally, she continues her work with Student Organ Donation Advocates, an organization she founded while a student at WashU.

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

As a process improvement analyst at Mount Sinai Health System, I am part of a team that collaborates with both inpatient units and outpatient practices to improve their operations through both a data-focused and interpersonal approach.

Studying healthcare management at WashU provided me with a foundation to work in the healthcare sector and I often find myself referencing finance, operations and economic concepts learned through classroom discussions.

As a first-semester freshman at WashU, I founded an organization called SODA: Student Organ Donation Advocates. Since graduating in December 2017, I have been working with a team of passionate leaders to expand SODA to 13 campuses across the country.

In this volunteer role, I have the opportunity to build partnerships, support student leaders across the country and encourage more organ donation education and registrations. Our organization has already educated more than 1,500 students and there are 75 chapter leaders across the country.

I can’t wait to see the impact these students will continue to make during the coming years. You can learn more about SODA by visiting sodanational.org.

What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

During an elective called, “Women in Leadership,” I learned negotiation and conflict management skills and I developed close connections with other classmates and the professor. I loved learning about common challenges and opportunities within the workplace through case studies, discussions and self-reflective writing assignments. If you are a student at WashU now, I highly recommend that you take the course.

How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?

I am grateful for the many friends I made through my time at Olin and my favorite way to stay in touch with classmates is to visit them—which is what I’m actually doing this weekend. I’m also looking forward to attending our class reunion this spring and reconnecting with my classmates and brothers from my business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi.

Why is business education important?

I value business education because of the ability to learn a diverse set of technical, problem-solving and communication skills. For me, these skills were helpful in preparing for my work at Mount Sinai and in founding and leading the nonprofit, SODA: Student Organ Donation Advocates.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

I recommend writing handwritten thank-you notes. These notes can be especially meaningful when thanking an adviser who has given you a valuable piece of advice, a professor who went above and beyond to make her class engaging or a mentor who shared a job opportunity that steered you in a new direction.

In today’s technological age, people might no longer expect a thank-you note, but it’s an effective way to communicate your appreciation for how someone contributed to your life and it leaves a memorable and positive impression.

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