Tag: Undergraduate



Maxine Clark, founder of St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop, kicked off the semester’s first Women & Leadership class with a story of her childhood. This is a selection of my three takeaways from her talk.

It’s OK to make mistakes

Clark explained that her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Grace, was responsible for imparting a lesson Maxine has carried with her throughout her life: “Learn from your mistakes.” Every Friday, Mrs. Grace would hand out a red pencil to the student that made the most mistakes that week. Maxine Clark noted the uniqueness that for once it wasn’t the brightest or quickest student that was rewarded, but one that had made mistakes.

Taking this lesson forward, Clark was pleased to see that the retail industry also embraced mistakes. At her very first job in the executive training program at the May Company, she had the responsibility of marking down prices with a very similar red pencil. She thought, “Wow, I’m made for this job!”

As a student, whose value is measured often by test scores and grades, it’s refreshing to remember that making mistakes leads to growth. Looking around the classroom, I saw many young women also relieved by the idea that mistakes can lead to success. Clark’s words came at an important time as many of us are soon graduating and starting a new life chapter.

Know what you don’t know

Clark proudly admits, “One of my strengths is I know what I don’t know.” This acknowledgment helped her snag one an incredible promotion. As a new employee for the May Company, she was tasked with the job of traveling to Asia to pick out products for all of the May Company stores. Maxine knew immediately that she didn’t know what the other stores would need.

Without the support of her supervisor, she had to take it upon herself to travel to the Pittsburgh store to see their assortment. There, she ran into David Farrell, who would soon become the CEO. Impressed with her initiative, he continued a professional relationship, eventually promoting Clark to chief of staff. Knowing what she didn’t know both allowed her to prove self-initiative and feel comfortable asking for help.

Enjoy the journey

Clark emanates passion. With exuberance, she described every project she was involved in. She ascribes much of her success to her passion and her ability to “enjoy the journey.” Starting with Build-A-Bear, she felt that she could pour all of her energy into the company’s success and growth because she felt so passionate. Today, she invests her energy in projects surround education, women in business, and the St. Louis community.

Pictured above: Maxine Clark, founder of the Build-A-Bear Workshop, speaking in 2013 during Olin Business School’s Defining Moments lecture series. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.




Garrett Passamonti, Class of 2021, is a sophomore in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Garrett Passamonti, Class of 2021, is a sophomore
in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Garrett Passamonti, EN ’21, wrote this on behalf of Bear Studios.

My first year at Washington University was full of new experiences, from forming new friendships and discovering new clubs to the initial shock of a college course load.

All my energy was channeled toward doing well in classes and finding a new group of friends. As a cook in the kitchen, I did my best to follow the “standard” recipe of freshman year.

A new year

I came back to WashU for my second year knowing what to expect. The plan was to follow the same recipe I came to love by the end of last year. I already had my friends, knew how to handle higher-level classes, and had some solid extracurriculars.

But only a few weeks in, the dish I had finally mastered began tasting bland.

This year, it’s not all about the novel experience of attending a new school and meeting new people. Instead, it is about solidifying and deepening the relationships I’ve already cultivated. The recipe that defined my freshman year experience—do well in school and find new friends—is no longer there to follow.

Time to become a chef

My education so far has taught me how to follow recipes to cook. It is time to use my cooking skills to define who I am and how I will shape the rest of my college, and life, experience.

When I look at my friends, courses, and activities, I wonder how I am going to form them into my identity. I am afraid of making something I don’t like—but isn’t that why chefs taste test as they go?

What will I make?

Today, I am matching different interests, friends, and activities together, making frequent and careful choices about what tastes good to me.

This year I removed free time from my dish. The only reason I sought free time stemmed from a lack of passion for some activities—so I removed them from my recipe book. It’s not easy to make menu changes, but when I switched from biomedical engineering to systems science and engineering, it felt good seeing more room on my plate.

There was finally space to join a Jazz Combo, take voice lessons, and add on a minor in healthcare management. For me, free time shouldn’t be sought out—it should be avoided. When my plate is full and I’m not trying to find excuses to avoid certain activities, then I know I am being true to myself, developing my own recipe to life, and becoming a chef.

My goal is to make a fantastic meal. This trial and error will take time and effort, but it is worth it. It is important, at the end of the day, for your meal to taste good to you.

Do what makes you happy, what inspires you to push the limits of your ability and grow. Cherish every moment while you cook (it’s supposed to be fun) and stay attentive—you never know when that one ingredient may come along to change everything for the better.

Pictured above: Garrett Passamonti with members of the Stereotypes a cappella group at a competition in Boston, MA last year. The Stereotypes is one of the activities that Garrett joined early his first year at WashU, making it a central ingredient.




Written for the Olin Blog by Caroline Suppiger, BSBA ’20, with contributions from Daun Lee, LA ’20, and a video by Lucie Kirk,  LA ’20. All are participants in the Madagascar Sustainability Initiative, an Olin class that is a joint educational project between Olin Business School and the Missouri Botanical Garden. One of the initiative’s programs, Project Period, creates panties and a sustainable source of menstrual supplies for women and girls entering puberty.

The women involved in Project Period recently participated in a regional “Art Fair” (see below) to sell panties and baskets. In addition, they gave a pair of the panties to Madagascar’s minister of arts (female) as a promotional gift. They are making the period panties and are thinking ahead about International Women’s Day festivities held every year in March. The panties should help to reduce infections and the need for a charcoal crop to pay for medicines.

My project was the third iteration of Project Period, a program first developed by students a few years ago. In the past, groups combatted the lack of feminine hygiene products available to women by creating underwear using local material, including a cloth pad filled with local moss and bark. Expanding on this prior project, our group focused on female empowerment as a whole, contributing in three distinct ways: economic support, education, and self-empowerment.

Economic support

Once we arrived in Mahabo, Madagascar, our group discovered that the previously made underwear was too large for young girls going through puberty. We developed an additional smaller size of underwear to support adolescent girls as they experience and learn about their changing bodies.

We applied for a grant to bring two hand-powered sewing machines to Mahabo. These machines help women make underwear more quickly, thus providing increased economic support and allowing more women to experience the benefits of this local product.

As part of our economic aim, we wanted to help women create a self-sustaining business resulting in a source of revenue. To do this, we priced the underwear, designed a sign, and taught the women how and where to sell the underwear. In just one week, we sold five pairs of underwear.

Project Period Team showing the girls club their video for the first time.
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Education

While in Mahabo, we provided a series of classes for women, young girls, and young boys in the community. We taught basic sexual education including: proper hygiene, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, puberty, and basic anatomy.

“In addition, we created a song, which outlined the purpose of our project and the importance of period panties, that the same middle school female students performed at big events, like the big presentation we gave to Mahabo and other involved parties,” Lee said.

Empowerment

The last part of our project focused on the Girls’ Club, an established group within the community made up of girls ranging from 12 to 16 years old. In order to encourage empowerment and self-confidence, we gave each girl a flip camera for approximately an hour a day to document parts of their lives.

We asked questions like, “Who is your mentor?” and “What is your favorite subject in school?” Because this village was such a male dominated community, we wanted to give the girls something of their own that they are proud of. At the end of our time, a team member compiled the videos and we showed the girls their video. There were laughs and tears because this was the first time any of them had even seen a photo of themselves.

We also taught the young girls a song and dance to help market the underwear at local events like soccer games and markets.

In what ways did it go as you expected—and in what ways didn’t it?

A few days in to our trip, after working with the women and girls of the village, we found out that the underwear made in the past was way too big for the younger girls who were one of our main focuses of the trip. Because of this discovery, we had to completely change our plans and redesignate our funds, designing two pairs of underwear instead of one.

“It was a success for the most part, because we were able to produce quite a few new sizes and we were even able to sell them at the Saturday market,” Lee said. “We found out that the mothers rarely buy the panties because they would rather spend the money on their daughters, so we were selling the smaller panties in hopes that the mothers would buy them for their daughters and then buy some for themselves.”

Going into the trip, I thought that our plans were a bit ambitious because we had so much to do, but fortunately, with the help of the Mahabo community, we were able to complete everything we had planned and more.

What were your biggest takeaways?

My biggest takeaway from the project itself is how amazing the women in the Mahabo community are. They were more than willing to answer our questions and come to meet with us day in and day out. There was a woman in the community, Madam Julienne, who volunteered to teach 40 women how to use the sewing machines for several hours a day throughout our time in the village. I was inspired by the women’s deep affection and care for both their own families and the well-being of the community as a whole.

After almost a month in Madagascar, it was evident how resilient the Malagasy people are. They are extremely big-hearted and work incredibly hard to support their families and greater community.

“While we thoroughly planned out our projects at school, actually going to the site and speaking to the Malagasy people and the women of Project Period made me realize that their inputs are a lot more important and useful than sticking to our timeline,” Lee said.

How has this class/project/experience contributed to your long-term goals—career or otherwise?

I think this class has contributed to my long-term goals by showing me the importance of an impact-driven job. As cliché as it sounds, this trip further demonstrated to me that I value impacting lives in a positive way through my personal and professional endeavors.

The Madagascar Sustainability Initiative is a class available to both undergraduates (UB B53 MGT 401M) and graduate students (B63 MGT 501 03). Pictured above: Xavier Bravo, LA ’19; Nick Murira, BSBA ’19; Caroline Suppiger, BSBA ’20; Lucie Kirk, LA ’20; Daun Lee, LA ’20; and Jonno Schneider, BSBA ’20.




Entrepreneurship education at Washington University in St. Louis—at both the graduate and undergraduate levels—has again earned top 25 status in the latest ranking by The Princeton Review in partnership with Entrepreneur Magazine.

WashU held firm on its No. 7 ranking for undergraduate programs and moved up four spots to rank No. 18 in the graduate program ranking.

As one of four key strategic pillars for Olin Business School, this week’s entrepreneurship ranking was particularly timely for Clifford Holekamp, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and Olin’s academic director for entrepreneurship.

“It is gratifying to see our focus reflected in the national rankings for entrepreneurship,” he said. “Olin, the WashU community, and the greater St. Louis community provide incredibly robust opportunities for students in entrepreneurship, but this ranking is as much a credit to the students’ entrepreneurial efforts in seizing these opportunities.”

The ranking released on Tuesday noted that WashU’s undergraduate programs offer “28 entrepreneurship-related undergraduate courses. Over the last five years, its graduates have started 84 companies and have collectively raised over $329 million in funding.”

Among graduate programs in entrepreneurship, WashU “offers 33 entrepreneurship-related graduate courses. Over the last five years, its graduates have started 58 companies and have collectively raised over $100 million in funding.”

See the complete ranking of top 25 undergraduate and graduate programs.




With the approach of the Scholars in Business dinner on November 8, Isaiah Straub, BSBA

In the wake of Olin’s Scholars in Business dinner on Thursday, we thought it would be appropriate the share a particularly touching thank-you note from an Olin freshman, sent to the sponsors of the Hochberg Scholarship. Named after, Gary Hochberg, longtime associate dean of Olin’s BSBA program, a group of Olin alumni established the Hochberg Tribute Scholarship Fund through a challenge that initially raised $325,000. They include Lee Fixel, BSBA ‘02; Michael Kaplan, BSBA ‘88; and Neil Yaris, BSBA ‘86.

The Hochberg Scholarship has provided funding to three students since it was established in nine years ago. Isaiah Straub, BSBA ’22, sent this letter to the scholarship sponsors on October 16.

Dear Hochberg scholarship sponsors,

I am a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis and a recipient of the scholarship that you sponsor. I wanted to write and let you know how thankful I am for your gift to me, and what a difference your gift has already made in my life.

Gary Hochberg

Gary Hochberg

I grew up in Vancouver, Washington, where my family struggled with poverty. Money was almost a foreign concept, my school lunches were free, and the food at home was obtained through stamps. Looking at colleges my junior year, I recognized that at the vast majority of colleges, attendance was simply financially unfeasible. Military service, partly as a means of affording higher education, caught my eye. However the education at Washington University seemed unmatched and the financial aid I received, now through your sponsorship, allowed me to shed the burden of a service commitment.

Working with the excellent faculty and my exceptional peers has instilled in me a sense of extreme fortune. Attending Olin Business School is such a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful to be here. Washington University has surpassed my expectations. This education will prepare me for the future and provide me the tools needed to carve my own path through life. Your contribution has already irreversibly altered the course of my life, and it has allowed me access to an invaluable education.

Thank you again for being my sponsor. I hope to put your generous gift to good use.

Sincerely,
Isaiah Straub




Omoluyi Adesanya, MPH/MBA

In 2017, two organizations joined forces to launch what has now become an annual event: the First-Generation College Celebration. The Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success created the annual commemoration to “celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on (our) campus in any and every way possible.”

For our commemoration of first-generation college student day, WashU Olin introduces you to two members of our community: Omoluyi Adesanya, MPH/MBA ’20, and David Leon, BSBA ’20. Both speak of overcoming obstacles and their desire to capitalize on the sacrifices their families have made.

What does it mean to you to be the first in your family to go to college?

Adesanya: To me, being a part of the first generation in my family to go to college (after my elder brother) means overcoming the obstacles and challenges that have penetrated my family for generations.

Leon: Being the first in my family to go to college means making sure all the sacrifices my parents and family made to get me here don’t go to waste.

Adesanya: My mother’s family German heritage and immigrated to the USA from Germany. In the USA, they live in rural America as generational farmers in southern Illinois. At the age of 23, my father immigrated to the USA from Nigeria in pursuit of a more promising future filled with opportunity. My father was not familiar of the pathways of higher education in the US. My paternal grandmother, whom I am named after, was an illiterate, she never had the opportunity to attend school due to the fact that in Nigeria females did not have the right to obtain an education during her era.

Leon: I want to be an example for all the students who come after me, especially my siblings. It means paving a path and continuing to strive for change that will allow others the opportunity to be successful.

Adesanya: Being from a family of immigrants and having lived in both rural and urban America, I have seen first-hand the value of education from my own family’s lack of opportunity to obtain an education. Through these various setbacks, I do not look at the negative aspects; instead I see these disadvantages as a positive part of my life—times to make sure I accomplish my future aspirations. To me, having obtained a college degree and continuing my academic journey in a graduate program allows me to realize that knowledge truly is power. Throughout my educational pursuits and knowing my family’s humble beginnings, I have been inspired to build my personal resilience and determined to obtain an education, which much of my family did not have the opportunity to pursue. This is what being the first in my family to attend college means to me.

How do you envision using your education going forward?

Leon: I will use my education to continue to foster positive change in the communities I belong to, while exploring my passions and allowing my curiosity to lead me to new opportunities.

Adesanya: I am a dual-degree student doing the MPH/MBA program at the Brown School and Olin Business School. Based off of my past experiences, I have endured various circumstances which have inspired me to obtain an MPH/MBA degree. Having lived in both urban and rural areas of America, I have witnessed disparities particularly in the healthcare sector.

Leon: WashU has provided me with an education and skills that will continually allow me to make an impact throughout my career.

Adesanya: Throughout my education, I came to realize that the regions of which I grew up were very economically disadvantaged and medically underserved. Medically, there is a county hospital in my hometown, however the nearest academic healthcare center is over one hour away. The county hospital provides primary care but does not have on-staff specialists available for people in our hometown.

In personally experiencing these hardships, I have been and continue to be inspired to keep pushing across my own academic hurdles and challenges to one day serve society through the integration of public health and business by changing the accessibility, affordability, and delivery of healthcare services. Looking at my future education pursuits, right now, I do not have any concrete plans if I will pursue further education after my MBA/MPH program, but I do know I want to provide a positive impact and actively engage with communities.

Having grown in a disadvantaged background and having personally experienced both income and health inequities, I aspire to use my knowledge gained in my MPH/MBA program to help the communities of which I represent and come from.

Briefly describe your academic journey.

Adesanya: During my formative years, my family lived in a small rural town of 5,000 people. This town is close to my mother’s family, therefore, it was great to grow up near extended family and know the importance of family especially while a child. Through the national A Better Chance foundation, I was provided the opportunity to attend a boarding school for my high school education at The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas.

Leon: My academic journey has been filled with figuring out the intricacies of this country’s education system. My parents moved me across many different schools in an effort to provide me the education they never had.

Adesanya: While at Hockaday, the transition to an all-girls, urban, boarding school from a small rural, co-educational, public school was not easy. At times, I had to teach myself how to re-analyze certain topics in the classroom, and I had to constantly push myself to re-learn certain material with the help of tutors and professors at Hockaday, but with my constant perseverance and will, I graduated from a top-tier high school and matriculated into The University of Chicago for my undergraduate studies.

Leon: I attended an elite Chicago high school and eventually arrived at WashU as someone who continued to defy the societal expectations set before them.

Adesanya: At UChicago, I was presented with a rigorous and humbling collegiate experience. During college, I worked part-time in a laboratory doing research for not only the better learning of science and healthcare, but also, as part of my student work-study to pay for some of my fees to attend college. Working, being a campus leader, and going to school at the same time allowed me to prioritize my time effectively while remaining engaged in the campus community. Through my tested will and work ethic, I majored in the Biological Sciences with a specialization in Endocrinology, and I minored in Human Rights.

After college, I was accepted to the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Training Award Fellowship Program in Bethesda, Maryland. Being at the NIH allowed me to have a three-year work-experience while growing both as a student and as a professional. After the NIH, I became motivated to apply to graduate school and pursue a career focused around population and preventative healthcare, therefore, I matriculated to WashU for my MPH program. After the first semester of my MPH program, I was exposed to a wide variety of course topics and began to realize the importance of business concepts in the healthcare industry; therefore, I became motivated to apply to the dual-degree MPH/MBA program.

As a second-year in the three-year program, I am able to see the vital importance of integrating the healthcare and business fields together as it provides me with the enriching opportunity for trans-disciplinary learning.

When looking at the past disadvantages that I have endured, though at times it was challenging to overcome these hurdles, they continue to leave a positive impact on my academic performance and personal outlook on my future goals. From my family’s lack of education, I ensured that I will be resilient throughout my academic journey, so that I can best be equipped to represent and serve the underserved communities that I call home.

Why WashU?

Leon: I chose to come to WashU because of the opportunity to make a difference on campus. The ability to change the campus as a member of many marginalized communities as well as the prestige of Olin Business School made my decision very easy.

Adesanya: After working in DC, I knew I wanted to relocate to the mid-west region of the states as it is closer to home and to my family. Knowing WashU’s strong reputation for equipping students with a well-rounded and strong academic experience, I became inspired to apply to WashU for my graduate school studies. Moreover, at WashU I had the opportunity and flexibility to obtain a dual-degree, MPH/MBA, and with my interest in both fields, I knew that WashU would provide me a unique, enriching graduate school experience.

Not only did the academic reputation and positive student experience motivate me to apply to WashU, but also the city of St. Louis. As a student, I firmly believe the importance of civic engagement on campus and within the surrounding St. Louis community. In many ways St. Louis represents a microcosm of many other American cities, it is a growing and thriving city with opportunity, especially for students.

Being interested in public health and improving the healthcare industry, the cities’ urban environment allows me to learn from the current health disparities and inequities which persist in the city. Thus given my personal ambitions at improving community health, the city of St. Louis also influenced my decision.

As a second-year graduate student, at WashU, I continue to find that not only do I have a well-rounded educational experience in the classrooms, but also, I am able to be active in civic engagement within the metropolitan St. Louis community.