Introducing CASE Scholar Meghan Spell

Meghan Spell

I began my career as a healthcare attorney in a large defense firm in Louisiana. I left a comfortable, but unfulfilling, career in the corporate legal world to work in nonprofit, safety net healthcare systems, where I partnered with patients every day to help them become engaged, activated and valued consumers of healthcare services. Working with individuals from all walks of life, including people who use drugs, those living with infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, transgender people and sex workers, opened my mind to a world beyond the courtroom and corporate boardroom. My experiences working with these various groups of people ignited a fire in me that has simmered within for as long as I can remember. In fanning those flames, I have been profoundly changed.

Born and raised in small town Louisiana, one of the poorest and least educated states in the country, I have been privy to the negative stereotypes about the disenfranchised my entire life. I saw firsthand how that environment reinforced the community’s homogeneous self-image, leaving little room for differences of race, sexual orientation or social class. Leaving that world – and worldview – behind and transitioning to the nonprofit work that I did prior to coming to Fuqua reinforced the ways that our society divides and stigmatizes and forced me to challenge preconceptions I might otherwise have simply accepted. In the process, my capacity for understanding the systemic reasons for poverty and social position has expanded far beyond anything that a girl minding the cash register in her Louisiana town would ever have thought possible. I received my B.S. in Human Ecology: Family, Child and Consumer Sciences and J.D./D.C.L. from Louisiana State University. I am also a graduate of the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program.

Why Fuqua?

The primary reason I chose Fuqua’s full-time MBA program as opposed to the executive program is to fully immerse myself in a new city and to engage both in and out the classroom. I was craving the chance to leave Louisiana for the first time, move to a different state and create a lasting change in my new environment. I first learned about Fuqua when I was reading a book that discussed the important work that the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) was doing. At the time, I had no idea that a business school would be focused on supporting combining crucial business skills with the social sector. As I researched further, I quickly realized that, at Fuqua, I could have the opportunity to continue developing the necessary skills to make my goals a reality, given CASE’s rich history of working in this space. When researching, I particularly loved the Day in Durham event because it allows students to engage immediately in the local community and speaks to Fuqua’s commitment to community involvement.

One of the things that appealed to me most about Fuqua initially is its emphasis on social impact and healthcare. I knew that I wanted to remain in the healthcare industry following my MBA and it was important to me to get my MBA at a place known for its healthcare program. Fuqua’s Health Sector Management program is one of the best healthcare programs and gives me the opportunity to further explore and develop my passions in both healthcare and social impact.

Visiting campus for the first time solidified that Fuqua was the place for me. Besides its aesthetic appeal, everyone I met was friendly and went out of their way to ensure that I had a great experience. Being in a collaborative environment is especially important to me and I have been able to feel the “Team Fuqua” spirit from the beginning. Fuqua’s emphasis on developing leaders of consequence who do good while doing well captures the essence of the leader I want to continue to be. Lastly, Fuqua’s six paired principles (authentic engagement, supportive ambition, collective diversity, impactful stewardship, loyal community and uncompromising integrity) really resonate with me.

In summary, Fuqua provides me with several options for exploring my personal and professional interests, while also allowing me to participate in the local community. All of these things combined make Fuqua the perfect fit for me and I fully intend to capitalize on these opportunities during my tenure.

What impact do you hope your Fuqua education will allow you to have on the world?

I believe the challenge of making quality healthcare accessible to all lies in learning from the myriad experiences of society as a whole. Understanding the funding mechanisms and key partnerships that promote successful and sustainable healthcare delivery will provide the basis for a holistic approach to universal care. By addressing the social determinants of health on a scalable and sustainable level, I hope to use my business skills to make healthcare more attainable for the people who need it most. Eventually, I hope to use this knowledge to help fix the broken healthcare system in the United States. Gaining the necessary business skills at Fuqua will empower me to fulfill my calling of promoting the dignity and innate humanity of each individual who seeks health and wellness, meeting adversity and inequity with empathy and ethics and helping make healthcare accessible and attainable for the world.

Share one of your 25 facts from your application essay.

I love dancing and have danced the night away the last three years at Martin Garrix’s closing night performance in Ibiza, Spain, Calvin Harris’ show in Las Vegas and David Guetta’s concert in Miami.

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business offers scholarships each year to individuals with social sector backgrounds who are looking to acquire business skills for use in their pursuit of social impact. The CASE Social Sector Scholarship brings in amazing students who add a richness to the Fuqua student body and bring their unique perspectives to the classroom. We are proud to announce our newest CASE Scholars. You can read about our other scholars here.