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Real Humans of the Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

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Cherise Brookes, Washington University Olin’s MBA Class of 2024

Age: 34
Hometown: St. John’s Antigua & Barbuda
Undergraduate Institution and Major: The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago; Bachelor of Science in Psychology & Sociology (double major)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I have 5 years mostly in the Social Services Industry, but I dabbled in Sales and Marketing as well.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?:
I have always felt that my career goals would take me beyond the small twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.  I am determined to place my home country on the world stage through my future social media aspirations. My intent is to incite the next big women’s movement. My goal is to be the next leader in the digital space. My true passion is in women’s empowerment and development. I will be creating a social media platform just for women. I knew that I needed to fill my skill gaps to pursue this dream and the only way that I could do this was to go to business school.

Why did you choose Washington Olin? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I wanted to attend a school that offers a global educational experience. With Washington University in St. Louis, I had the opportunity to experience global immersion in my first semester, which took me all around the world to amazing destinations such as Barcelona, Paris, and Santiago. I also wanted to study in a small, tight-knit community that was inclusive and diverse. My class has over 13 countries represented. I also wanted to study in a school that had a strong entrepreneurial focus, and a huge entrepreneurial eco-system. Washington University in St. Louis is ranked the #1 MBA program for Entrepreneurship for 3 years in a row and has an extensive alumni network in New York and Silicon Valley! Additionally, with professors like Doug Villhard, who are dedicated to helping you develop any startup idea and provide resources to build it from the ideation stage, picking WashU Olin was a no-brainer.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I am the only Antiguan & Barbudan in my cohort, so I am able to enrich discussions about the Caribbean region and its unique position in the world. I also have a very strong background in social services. Unlike other professionals, social workers are mandated to focus on micro and macro problems concurrently. This allows me to be uniquely proficient in understanding cultures, systems, and organizations with my enhanced EQ skills. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I am currently writing a fictional book about a 13-year-old girl (Zara) from Antigua who discovers she has supernatural powers. Zara also learns she is from a secret world called Gemisle. In this world, humans are gifted with extraordinary gifts that make them super beings. I hope to publish this book in 2024.

Post-MBA career interests:
I am interested in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation. I hope to find a company that allows me to work in a role that intersects with all of these functions.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would definitely do extensive research on each MBA program before applying. Every program has unique aspects that may not align with your post-MBA goals and it’s important to do a deep dive into each curriculum and really find one that resonates with you and your career path. Also, find time to connect extensively with anyone from your chosen school. Current students are the best gauge of program fit.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have applied to Olin Business School in 2021. My MBA experience has enriched my life so much that I keep wondering how my life would have been different had I enrolled in Olin earlier. I am excited to use my voice, fearless despite all odds, and poised to make a resounding impact with my MBA.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped interviewing with other programs after I got into Olin. I knew after learning about Olin that I had to go, period. What helped me get through interviewing with other business schools was knowing that I already found my dream school, and this was just a formality.

What is your initial impression of the Olin students/culture/community?
Olin’s students are very smart, intellectually curious, opinionated, and collaborative. We have students from many different backgrounds, for example, law, entertainment, finance, engineering, education, social services, healthcare/medical, etc., and everyone is willing to share their knowledge during classroom discussions or with guest speakers. We also have extremely engaging conversations and students are amazing at supporting their arguments with strong data.

What is one thing you have learned about Olin that has surprised you?
Olin love to invest in its students. Olin loves to see its students succeed and its faculty and staff go above and beyond to ensure that your journey from start to finish in business school is the most rewarding to you and your ambitions.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I was most anxious about my fit at Olin. With my non-traditional background, imposter syndrome was a reoccurring feeling, but when I entered the program, I met other students who did not fit the stereotypical MBA student profile. This made me feel right at home.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I was most excited about the global immersion and experiencing different cultures in each destination. Plus, going to Paris was on my bucket list so getting to go with my entire class was crazy and exciting.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Covid-19 has not affected my personal application or admission process in any way. Olin is very intentional in ensuring that students have the best possible educational experience and go out of their way to execute this despite the ‘ongoing pandemic’. 

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.