Tag: Scholars in Business

Mark Taylor, approximately 10 years old in Warwickshire, England.
Mark Taylor, approximately 10 years old in Warwickshire, England.

On most Friday nights in the 1970s, you might find teenage Mark Taylor outside a pub in the UK’s working-class Warwickshire community hawking “American hotdogs” to the patrons who had just tipped back a pint or two.

Taylor made the circuit throughout the weekend, from the pub until 2 a.m., to the soccer ground on Saturday afternoon, to a nightclub on Saturday night, pocketing 20% of the proceeds to cover basic needs—school supplies, clothes and a few meals here and there.

Taylor knew he needed to ease the burden on his parents and three brothers—who either worked for—or were destined to work for—the local auto plant in the gritty industrial town. He had different dreams in mind.

Skip ahead six years. With innumerable hotdogs and a year working as a tutor behind him, Taylor had become the first in his family to complete the British equivalent of high school. With straight A’s on his exit exams—and intervention by a visionary headmaster—Taylor became the first in his family to attend college.

And not just any college: The oldest campus in the English-speaking world—tracing its origins to the 11th century—Oxford University, where Taylor had earned a seat to study philosophy, politics and economics.

Mark Taylor with his parents in Warwickshire, England.

“I suppose arriving at Oxford and being able to measure myself against people with different backgrounds—that was the first time I realized how transformational this could be,” Taylor said, recalling his early days at university. “Without financial assistance, it would not have been possible.”

That financial assistance came in the form of British government-sponsored scholarships available to high-achieving students who had been accepted by a university. With straight A’s on his exams, a seat at Oxford and working-class parents, Taylor not only qualified to have his fees covered, but he received a small government stipend to help with living expenses during his studies.

“You’d get one check at the start of each term, so you had to be very careful not to blow the lot in the first week,” Taylor said.

Taylor is particularly keen on the importance of undergraduate scholarships, which he views as the first and most formidable barrier. Once he had earned his undergraduate degree, Taylor was able to leverage that to get his first job in a professional career track.

From there, he could finance his further education, including a master’s in economics at Oxford, a PhD in economics from the University of London, a higher doctorate in finance from from the University of Warwick and a master’s in English renaissance and romantic literature from the University of Liverpool.

“For me, education was a totally transformational experience,” said Taylor. “The difference is not only in material well-being, but also in terms of ways you can enjoy and view the world in different ways.”

Learn more about the ways Olin works with scholarship recipients and donors—and learn how you can become one—on WashU Olin’s scholarship page.




“When I found out that our offices were literally across the street from each other,” Amanda Signorelli, BSBA’13, said, “we had to meet.” The newly named CEO of Chicago-based TechWeek, a conference and media company focused on building startup communities, couldn’t wait to meet Rick Weisberg, BSBA’81. After all, he had made it possible for her to graduate from Washington University.

Signorelli had just been named one of the Top 20 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017 by CIO.com and was preparing to share her success story at the Scholars in Business dinner last fall. Meeting Weisberg would provide an important piece of the story from her undergrad days.

During her sophomore year, Signorelli learned that her family was in financial straits and could not afford to pay for college; she would have to drop out of WashU. “It was terrifying,” Signorelli recalls. The prospect of leaving the school she had worked so hard to attend, and where she was happily pursuing interests in languages and entrepreneurship, was devastating.

Signorelli was unaware of the Scholars in Business Program and the generations of students, like her, that it has helped since 1979. She was overwhelmed when she learned that she qualified for a scholarship and would be able to stay in college and earn her degree at WashU. “It was amazing to see how connected the Olin network was, to sense I needed help, and they were there,” she said.

Signorelli was a recipient of the Lawrence Krulik Memorial Scholarship created in 1991 by Rick and Sheryl (BA’81) Weisberg in honor of her father. More than 25 students have benefited from the fund. Each year, the Weisbergs have received notes of appreciation and thanks from grateful Olin students, but until this past year, the Weisbergs had never actually met one of their scholarship students in person.

At their first meeting in a Chicago coffee shop, Signorelli told Rick Weisberg, “I don’t think you have a sense of just how important this scholarship was for me.” Amanda remembers the meeting as, “Very surreal. It was a really special moment for me.”

Amanda Signorelli and Rick Weisberg chat during video shoot for Scholars in Business Dinner.

The feeling was mutual for Weisberg. “Frankly it really hit me in a very, very positive way. I was very touched that she reached out to me. I never really fully understood the impact that the scholarship had made on her and others who received it because I never saw the outcome.”

Weisberg is quick to add that he takes no credit for Amanda’s success. “If I helped her on her path that’s one thing, but you know it’s up to the individual to find their path and be successful at it.” Weisberg found his path and passion in finance while at Olin. He says he will never forget the support and encouragement he received from Dean Bob Virgil when applying to graduate school at New York University. “Dean Virgil set up an interview for me with the dean of NYU’s business school. Thanks to that conversation, I was accepted into the MBA program right out of WashU and it changed my life.”

On Giving

“I’ve been involved in a lot of organizations, whether it’s been in in the theater, religious, or otherwise, but I have not found a better organization than Washington University both in terms of the purpose of donations and in terms of the operational side of the equation. The attention to detail in terms of the care that you feel from the university prior to the contribution, during the contribution, and after, it seems seamless and effortless and actually makes it a very pleasurable experience, and it’s just a great place to be a part of.”   – Rick Weisberg

After 26 successful years with Goldman Sachs, Weisberg continues to work as a private investor. He has remained connected to WashU through the Eliot Society and the regional cabinet in Chicago where the Weisbergs have lived since 1988. Meeting Amanda, Weisberg admits was a learning experience. “It has re-motivated me in a very positive way to re-think my philanthropic process. When you give to a large organization you know you’re doing something good, but you never directly see the outcome. In the case of the scholarship program, you know there is a proportionate and direct impact from what you provide.”

Amanda Signorelli will never forget the impact that the Weisberg’s generous gift had on her life. And now that she has connected with the fellow alumnus and donor who made it possible, she realizes she is a part of the Olin network that will be there to support the next generation of students with time, money, mentoring, and friendship.

Link to Entrepreneur’s Business Rockstars video with Amanda Signorelli.

Link to 2016 Scholars in Business Dinner video featuring Bob Virgil and Amanda Signorelli.




“Getting to finally sit down for coffee this week with my Scholars in Business Scholarship Sponsor, Dan Manoogian, BSBA’82, was truly a highlight of my semester thus far,” said Lexie Sprague, BSBA, Class of 2017. “It was so fun to be able to share with him everything that I’m doing at Olin and on the soccer field.” (more…)


Last week over 500 scholarship students, scholarship benefactors, faculty, and staff filled Knight and Bauer Halls for this year’s Scholars in Business dinner. Students and benefactors mingled before hearing opening remarks from Dean Mahendra Gupta.

A video showcased the impact of scholarship funds for multiple students within Olin before Khalyani Sankar (BSBA ’16) and DeRoyce Simmons (MBA ’15)  spoke on behalf of all scholarship recipients, sharing their personal stories and the impact their scholarships have had on their time at Washington University in St. Louis. (Click on video above.)

Chris McGrath (BSBA ’89) shared the impact scholarship dollars has had on his family and how he’s appreciated being able to give back to a current student. McGrath recently established his annual scholarship, the Jake Cusano Memorial Scholarship.

Dinner was served on the third floor of Knight and Bauer Halls and allowed for further dialogue for the night. Donors fly in from across the country for this event and it allows scholarship recipients the opportunity to get to know and thank their scholarship donors for their generous contributions to their education.