Tag: 2017 Graduation



This article was originally published in the 2017 Olin Business Magazine.

Alex Borchert, BSBA ’06, is managing director of investments at Altus Properties and Olin Alumni Board president (2017-18 academic year). He was the keynote speaker at the Undergraduate Programs graduation recognition ceremony in May.

Olin just wrapped up graduation celebrations for 2017, with recognition ceremonies on Dec. 2 and Dec. 8. What better time to revisit Alex’s advice for staying connected?

What advice did you share with the BSBA Class of 2017?

I was honored and quite humbled to speak at graduation. I shared a few guiding principles I’ve come to live by over my career.

The first dealt with protecting one’s integrity. We’ve all heard the platitude: “It takes a career to build a reputation of utmost integrity, but only one dishonest decision to destroy it.” Integrity is one of the only things I’ve found to be completely within one’s personal control in business. I can only hope that I enlightened a few graduates to its importance—and its fragility.

Another related to the value of embracing challenge and learning from failure. I hope that Olin’s 2017 graduates continue to seek fresh challenges as their careers mature—and don’t give into the comfort that success can breed.

I also assured them that the value they receive from WashU doesn’t end at graduation, but continues to grow as alumni.

How can alumni take advantage of the school’s global network?

Should any graduate desire to reconnect with the school or broaden their professional network via alumni connections within a city or industry, I encourage them to reach out directly to our tremendous Alumni & Development department. Don’t be shy; simply call them. They enjoy nothing more than working with alumni to ensure that we are maximizing the value of our incredible network. The alumni network at Olin is as strong as it has ever been. I encourage all of my fellow alums to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity it can provide.

What are the easiest ways to stay in touch or reconnect with Olin?

Some of my favorite opportunities for connection include joining the alumni mentorship program through the Alumni & Development department, providing mock interviews or “lunch and learns” via the Weston Career Center, notifying the Office of Corporate Relations that you’re available to speak to a class or student club about your industry or company, and the easiest of all involves attending one of the many alumni events hosted by our active alumni chapters from coast to coast.


The below post originally appeared on The Source.

A campus classroom may seem like an odd spot to consider organ donation. But trust Sara Miller when she tells you it is better than a hospital waiting room. That’s where she and her family made the decision eight years ago to donate the liver of Miller’s older sister, Laura, who had been declared brain-dead days after being diagnosed with cancer at age 14.

“The hospital is the worst place to have these discussions,” the senior told classmates during the fall meeting of Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA). “That’s why I helped create this organization. I wanted to bring light to the importance of organ donation so that when others have to make a decision—whether it’s a yes or a no—they are making it from a point of clarity and education.”

Miller is one of about 300 students who will participate in the December Degree Candidate Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Athletic Complex. She will graduate with a degree in health-care management from Olin Business School.

Miller arrived at the university eager to join a club that promotes organ donation. When she learned that no such organization existed, she started one herself, with the help of two upperclassmen and the support of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.

Since then, she has trained 50 volunteers and hosted more than 30 events, including registration drives, conversations with bioethicists, panels with transplant surgeons and events with donors and recipients.

Sara Miller and Trish O’Neill present at a recent Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) meeting.

At a meeting this fall, Miller welcomed a very special organ recipient: Trish O’Neill, the schoolteacher who received Laura’s liver. They told students the story of their friendship and dispelled some of the myths surrounding organ donation, such as that certain faiths reject organ donation and that potential donors do not receive the same lifesaving measures as nondonors.

When a classmate asked Miller if her family experienced any unexpected consequences, she did not hesitate.

“The biggest surprise for us is how organ donation has helped us heal and to recover more fully,” Miller told the audience. “And then there is the gift of Trish’s friendship. We like to joke that we would be friends with her even if she didn’t have my sister’s liver.”

After graduation, Miller plans to work in health-care management, where she hopes to focus on the patient experience. Fellow leaders will continue SODA’s mission at Washington University. Miller will stay involved with SODA, too, guiding the expansion of SODA to Marquette University, in her hometown of Milwaukee.

“I am proud that SODA has created a dialogue about organ donation on campus,” Miller said. “I came here knowing this is what I wanted to do. WashU gave me the leadership skills and the support I needed to make it happen.”

Video by Tom Malkowicz




Friday, May 19, we celebrated the professional growth and accomplishments of more than 225 graduate and 277 undergraduate students. This year’s graduates not only graduated during Olin’s Centennial year, but also from the top undergraduate business program, one of the top 25 MBA programs, and the #3 Master of Science in Finance program in the U.S. That is something to be proud of.

Check out some of the photos of the big day, below, and watch our social media channels for more photos later this week! Congratulations, graduates!

Undergraduate Graduation Recognition Ceremony

Click image to expand. Photos by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

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Graduate Graduation Recognition Ceremony

Click image to expand. Photos by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

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Jon Slack, MBA’17, applied to Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis because of its stellar faculty and track record of placing graduates in top jobs. But he also chose Olin because of another veteran.

“I talked to the president of the Olin Veterans Association multiple times prior to making my decision,” Slack said. “I didn’t have that sort of communication at the other schools. This was important to me because I feel there is a bond of trust veterans share.”

The financial support also mattered — not just the money, but what it symbolized.

“At the other schools where I was accepted, they said, ‘You’ll be on the G.I. Bill. That’s great. But there will be a gap between what the G.I. Bill covers and actual tuition. When I visited here, they said, ‘Know that you will be taken care of. And we do that for every veteran,” said Slack, who will graduate among 10 veterans. “That told me something about the school. It was an above-and-beyond thing.”

Slack was studying economics and computer science at the University of Central Florida when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. On Sept. 12, 2001, he wanted to enlist. His parents urged him to finish his degree first. Slack agreed and joined ROTC. After graduation, Slack served in Afghanistan, Korea, Germany and Africa, where he learned a lot about the world and his fellow Americans.

“I’m from Miami, so diversity was not new to me,” Slack said. “But serving in the military opened me up to other types of diversity. The people alone provided me a great education.”

Initially commissioned as an engineer officer, Slack went on to serve as a civil affairs officer, helping local people develop the capacity to rebuild their institutions. While deployed, the goal, he said, was to work himself out of job. While there was still much to be done, after 10 years he decided it was time for a change.

Slack initially thought of law school; his wife is an attorney and both of his parents are retired police officers. But he soon discovered business school would be a better fit.

“I realized things I enjoyed doing in the Army — leading soldiers, building teams, solving problems — were the focus of business school,” Slack said. “I’m a state-school kid, the son of cops. I never thought I’d go to business school, much less at an elite university. And, to be honest, after 10 years out of school, the first semester hit me like a ton of bricks. But now I love it.”

Read more 2017 Class Acts here.

Photo credit: James Byard/WUSTL Photos


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