A second cohort of five students have joined WashU Olin as entrepreneurship fellows, a program initiated last year to continue leveraging the school’s reputation for fostering student innovation and to attract diverse and creative thinkers.
Entrepreneurship fellows receive tuition support for their MBA, networking and relationship-building support within Olin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and alumni mentorship and coaching. Fellows are housed within the Lewis Collaborative, which offers co-working and classroom space to facilitate idea generation and contact with other entrepreneurs. The fellowship attracts students who want to influence business and society in areas such as sustainability/environmentalism, social responsibility, global impact, and inclusion, diversity and equity.
This year’s fellows, all MBA 2025, are Jacob Hibbert, Chris Pitts, Maria Kamila Severiche, Kenneth Thomas and Helena Valentine.
Hibbert hails from from Edinburgh, Scotland, which he proudly describes as “not just the land of rolling hills, smoky whisky and endless rain,” but also as the birthplace of television, electricity and golf. He comes to Olin after working as a self-employed product consultant and earning his undergraduate degree from Durham University in England.
Pitts’ background in electrical engineering (bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham) and project management has contributed to a passion for supporting minority and women-owned small businesses in the St. Louis area. He’s determined to to help these businesses raise capital and gain valuable insights into entrepreneurship through acquisition.
Maria Kamila Severiche
Severiche comes to Olin with a master’s degree in human resources from EAFIT University in Colombia. She says she embarked on her first entrepreneurial venture at age 8 when her mother became her first investor, accounting teacher and boss as she started a candy-selling business. After working in HR, sales, international affairs and other areas, she went on to create a clothing brand, “Element,” with handmade products in Colombia.
Thomas comes to Olin with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Lindenwood University and work with WashU’s medical school in its division of oncology. A first-generation college student, he navigated a new culture, broadened his perspectives and fueled his passion for entrepreneurship and youth soccer development. He is keenly interested in private equity and venture capital with the goal of driving change and increasing representation.
Valentine, half-Swiss and half-German, earned her BSBA from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland before moving to the United States late last year. She grew up around the biggest hop-producing area in the world and often joined her father in hop-grower meetings, which developed her passion for beer and its brewing process. After working as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in London, she knew she wanted to start her own business. She’s already working on opening a brewpub in St. Louis focused on European-style beers.
Pictured at top: Back row: Chris Pitts, Maria Kamila Severiche and Helena Valentine. Front row: Jacob Hibbert and Kenneth Thomas. All five members of the MBA class of 2025 started their fellowship at the beginning of the academic year.