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Real Humans of the Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

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Madeline DuCharme, Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

Age: 29
Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia
Prior Education: University of Virginia (BA with a double major in American Government and Economics) and Columbia Teachers College (MA in Teaching Social Studies)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I taught high school history for five years, and prior to that I worked for two years as a political campaign consultant.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I loved a lot of things about teaching, but I wanted to have a more macro-level impact on the systemic problems I think about every day: educational inequity and climate change. I decided to go to business school to gain the skills and entrepreneurial mindset to pursue new ways of tackling these problems.

Why did you choose Washington Olin? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As someone coming from a nontraditional background, I was particularly excited about the opportunities for experiential learning as well as the prospect of being part of a small class where I would get to know my peers, professors, and Olin staff. WashU Olin has so many resources and opportunities, from the entrepreneurship community to the global immersion program, and I feel lucky to be able to take advantage of so many of them.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I bring a teacher’s mindset to the classroom. Spending the last five years thinking about how people learn and how to look at the world and systems critically has definitely helped me work well with my classmates and add new perspectives to our discussions.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I have been a vegetarian (technically pescatarian) since I was 8.

Post-MBA career interests:
I am very passionate about both mitigating climate change and educational equity, and I hope to find roles where I can work to better the systems that endanger the future of the planet and concentrate opportunities in the hands of the few.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I wanted to get out of MBA, which helped me make the decision to go as well as where to apply. Talking through my ideas, questions, and doubts with my family and friends was really helpful.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have started the process earlier. I decided I wanted to go to business school fairly late in the cycle so I applied during the third round. It would have been nice to apply earlier to better prepare for the transition.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Waiting to hear back after applying. I had a lot going on during that period (work, travel, family celebrations) so I did my best to be present and not worry too much about the future.

What is your initial impression of the Olin students/culture/community?
We got to know each other quite well on the global immersion before the core classes even started this fall! What stands out from that is the focus on relationships, both within my class and within the broader WashU and St. Louis communities.

What is one thing you have learned about Olin that has surprised you?
Olin, and WashU, more broadly, are intentional about trying to be part of and positively impact St. Louis. I have loved living in St. Louis so far, and I hope the school can find even more ways to help the local community flourish.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I have been thinking a lot about making choices with my limited time that will allow me to learn as much as possible and pursue my interests while also having balance in my life.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am starting a company called Convey that will use technology to help students organize their thoughts and write them in a grammatically correct, logical way, and I am really excited to move forward with the help of an abundance of WashU resources and mentors.

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.