Within a 20-minute drive of the small town in Tennessee where I grew up, I could be in either an exclusive neighborhood of golf-course-adjacent mansions or in a rural area nearly absent of paved roads, good public schools and access to dental care. At an early age, I saw the difference that wealth, education and social connections can have in setting the tone for how people view themselves and how they treat each other. This inherent unfairness may be just the way life is, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to change our society to proactively promote economic opportunity for all.
While preparing for college, I read about microfinance, knew that I liked math, and thought I’d study economics and finance. Throughout my college career I dived into the social innovation world: pay-for-success funding, microcredit, corporate social responsibility, impact investing, etc. I shared my interests with others by founding a student council dedicated to educating and engaging students from all majors in social innovation and entrepreneurship.
After graduation, I served in AmeriCorps for a year and then joined a community development financial institution that provides loans and technical assistance to cooperative businesses across the United States. These businesses promote a broad base of stock ownership by employees and communities so that everyone involved in the business is invested, engaged and shares in the wealth created from their labor.
Dean Boulding has said Duke’s famous “Team Fuqua” really means “a great team will always beat a great individual.” I saw this attitude embodied in students, staff, alumni, and even prospect students when I came to interview at Fuqua. The eagerness I saw from the entire Fuqua family to do good, be good and help others made the “is this the business school culture for me?” question an easy one.
Academically, I knew I would be challenged by Fuqua’s excellent faculty and stretched in all the right ways to grow my technical and leadership abilities. Career-wise, the reputation and programming of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) was perfect for my long-term goals. Getting to live back in the beautiful (albeit hot) South was a serious plus in my book, too!
What impact do you hope your Fuqua education will allow you to have on the world?
In a nutshell, I hope to inspire people to view their money differently—to see it as a resource that they can carefully invest to improve their community and the world at large.
I look forward to learning more about what is happening in impact investing, especially at the intersection of technology and social ventures. I’d like to use my background in finance to spur more traditional asset owners to consider social and environmental metrics in their investment choices—and to push those already open to environmental, social and corporate governance investment products to use their capital even more intentionally. I also want to help foundations, other asset owners and capital providers better coordinate their efforts to support social entrepreneurs solving critical problems facing the environment, cycles of poverty and access to quality education.
Share one of your 25 facts from your application essay.
I love to rate and rank things. In college, I created a program to compare and rank all of my 4,000+ songs, then compiled a list of my top 250 favorite songs in order. “Girl Sailor” by indie-rock band The Shins was my favorite.
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.