2018 Best & Brightest: Rachael White, University of Pittsburgh

Rachael White

University of Pittsburgh

I’m smart, funny, fearless and routinely carry on conversations using movie lines.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am a Kukkiwon Certified second degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.

Hometown: Cranford, NJ

High School: Cranford High School

Major: Marketing

Minor: Accounting Concentration, Certificate in Leadership and Ethics, Certificate in International Business, Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Certificate in Business Analytics

Favorite Business Course: Projects in Marketing

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Treasurer of Mu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated
  • VP of Volunteer Management of the Pitt Pantry
  • Dinner for Dimes Corporate Relations Chair, Mr. CBA Event Committee member, and Service Committee member of Phi Beta Lambda
  • VP of Operations of the Sports Business Association
  • Co-Chair of Service Committee of Collegiate DECA (An Association for Marketing Students)
  • Active member of Women in Business
  • University Scholar for both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years (I stood in the top 2% of my class for those academic years.)
  • Dean’s List
  • Haller Scholar (I received the Haller Scholarship for Entrepreneurship, with which I worked with an Entrepreneur in Residence on starting up my own venture.)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Internal Audit and Financial Advisory Process Intern at Protiviti, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Data Curator at Othot (A predictive and prescriptive data analytics firm) in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Sales Coordinator at Othot in Pittsburgh, PA

Where will you be working after graduation?  I will be working as a Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I knew coming to Pitt that there were a bunch of opportunities that I wanted to take advantage of. Still, I have seriously enjoyed the fact that the number of opportunities for students in the business school is not just greater than I thought they were, but also have increased during my time here at Pitt. For example, I was sure that I wanted to study abroad at some point during my college career, but I quickly learned and was able to take advantage of the fact that I could easily study abroad more than once without being set back in four year graduation plan. In four years, I participated in five study abroad programs. In fact, two were brand new programs the year I participated and another one was one that I designed myself with the Director of International Programs and the Associate Dean of the business school.

In addition to my study abroad opportunities, there have been growing opportunities to pursue entrepreneurship, which has been an interest of mine for a long time. I was even introduced to an opportunity to receive a scholarship for entrepreneurship, which I was fortunate enough to receive and used to work on starting up my own venture with Entrepreneur in Residence Andy Hannah. Overall, I have been able to work with my academic advisor, professors, and mentors to truly craft the business program to fit my wide-ranging interests and to take advantage of opportunities as they arose during my time at Pitt.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? One of the biggest lessons I gained from studying business at Pitt can be captured by a personal motto that has stuck with me since it was first said to me: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” The world today is complex with different cultures, constantly changing technology, and much more – all of which have significant implications on the business world and how business is conducted. Business today is global, so it is imperative to understand how it has become so global and how varying cultures across the globe affect how business is done in all firms from small entrepreneurial ventures to large multinational corporations. The increasing complexity of business makes real-world experience for students a crucial component to their education and growth as a business professional. While this experience is crucial, it is even more important, in my opinion, for students to be put in uncomfortable situations in the real world to understand how to analyze, adapt to, and learn from a situation. I have learned and gained the most from the times where I was stretched out of my comfort zone in course projects, internships, and study abroad experiences.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My biggest piece of advice to any student looking to major in a business-related field would be to take the initiative and gain hands-on experience in your field of interest. Most opportunities will not present themselves on a silver platter for students to take. Instead, it will require them to seek them out or put in a little effort to be able to fully take advantage of them. So it is important for students to take the initiative to pursue any opportunity that interests them. This can be applied to anything from studying abroad to building relationships with peers, professors, and potential mentors. Try something new, go for what you want, and “be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Engineering or forensic science. I have always liked math and science growing up, and I find it fascinating how many types of engineering there are and how engineers innovate systems and processes to build things as big as bridges and as small as microchips. I also always enjoyed labs in middle school and high school and could see myself in another career path pursuing a laboratory research job.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One person who significantly influenced my decision to pursue business was my dad. When I was planning my course schedule for my freshman year of high school, I had room for two electives and many elective options to choose from. At the time, I was very interested in fashion, so my intention was to take both of my electives in fashion and sewing. However, my dad encouraged me to only take one fashion/sewing course during my freshman year and take a business course along side of it because as he put it, “Everything is a business, so it can’t hurt to be introduced to some of the basics.” That little pitch convinced me to take a business course freshman year, which was specifically an entrepreneurship course. Since then, I fell in love with business and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in business with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I have definitely surprised myself in terms of what I have been able to accomplish in my four years at Pitt, but I think I am most proud of my pursuit of an independent study for my senior year. I have been able to work with the Director of International Programs and the Associate Dean of the business school on an independent study of my own design. It really has allowed me to weave together many of my interests as they have developed over the last few years. My project is looking into the relationship between social entrepreneurship, the economic concept of the Bottom of the Pyramid, and my own design for a venture in the fashion industry. My project has also included two week-long study abroad trips to do primary research. Both of those trips have allowed me to grow personally, professionally, and academically as they pushed me outside my comfort zone and broadened my engagement with the world.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? There are very few things that I would change about the business school if I were the dean for the day because I value and enjoy the foundational mantra that the business school promotes to its students: From the Classroom. To the City. To the World. That being said, looking back on my experiences, I would change one of the courses in the business core curriculum to require that it be taken within the first year that a student is in the business school. The course is called Fundamentals of Business Communication. I believe that this will be a beneficial change because the content of the course is very much foundational to other business core and major courses, so this course will be much more valuable and interesting to underclassmen than they are to upperclassmen.

Which classmate do you most admire? Honestly, I admire many of my classmates and friends because no matter what obstacles they faced or how frequently things didn’t go as planned, they kept pushing towards their goals. That being said, I most admire my classmate, Alexa. We met abroad and became instant friends, and I truly value her friendship for many reasons. Perhaps most importantly, she constantly motivated and pushed me to do more just by pursuing her own goals along side of me. She always set aside time to complete all of her work on time, if not early, as she set goals for herself in which she had to complete an assignment before she got dinner with friends or something similar. She also made a decision one year to fit a consistent workout into her schedule. By doing so, she motivated me to do the same, which has been extremely valuable to me. In addition, she balanced everything at school from academics and extracurricular activities to going home to Ohio to work at her job and spend time with her family. I admire how she was able to balance all of that and how committed she remained to everything that was important to her.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would want to thank my professor, employer, and mentor Andy Hannah for my success. Fall semester freshman year, a few upperclassmen friends of mine reached out to me and strongly encouraged me to meet with Andy to interview to be in his elective course in applied data analytics. Despite the fact that Andy didn’t accept freshmen into his course, he was happy to meet with me to talk about the course. After meeting with Andy, not only did he accept me into the course, but he also encouraged me to continue pursuing my interest in entrepreneurship and offered to help me along the way. From that moment, Andy grew to be an incredible mentor for me academically, professionally, and personally. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and has constantly pushed me to reach my potential, especially when I couldn’t see it myself. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Andy and all of his support and guidance. For that reason, thank you, Andy.

What would your theme song be? My theme song would be “Where you Lead” by Carole King because it is the theme song for my favorite TV show, Gilmore Girls. I have watched the entire series multiple times because it always cheers me up, and I value the presence of multiple strong female lead characters who subtly push a message of female empowerment. In addition, the message in the song itself resonates with me, as I will be there for my friends and family whenever and wherever they need me.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? The top two items on my bucket list right now are to plan a trip to Germany to trace my grandmother’s family back to her hometown before she left to escape the Holocaust and to continue to travel the world and experience new cultures.

Favorite book: Sula by Toni Morrison

Favorite movie: Keeping Mum

Favorite vacation spot: My favorite vacation spot is Vermont because it was always a family tradition to spend a couple weeks in the summer in a small town in Vermont.

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include:

  • Travelling locally and internationally
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Listening to music
  • Taekwondo
  • Exploring Pittsburgh
  • Volunteering

What made Rachael such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“I am delighted to recommend Pitt Business student Rachael White as one of your “2018 Best-and-Brightest Undergraduate Business Majors.” In over twenty years at Pitt Business, I’ve encountered many high achieving students. However, Rachael stands out among even the most accomplished. Rachael is that unique student that comes along once in twenty years. Rachael’s contributions to Pitt Business and the Class of 2018 are significant and, I believe, will have a lasting effect after her graduation.

As a Pitt Business student, Rachael has held leadership positions in numerous organizations, both business-oriented and University-wide. She has involved herself in community service and developed a highly impressive record of professional and international experience. She is enrolled in the Pitt Business Honors Program and has customized a rigorous academic program incorporating her unique interests, goals, and talents. As a senior, Rachael has undertaken an honors capstone project incorporating several of her interests, including social entrepreneurship, an economic concept called “Bottom of the Pyramid,” international travel, and her design for a venture in the fashion industry.

These accomplishments alone are significant. However, what makes Rachael exceptional is how she has pushed the limits of the Pitt Business student experience and redefined our idea of what can be achieved by an individual student.

Rachael is a trailblazer. Her cultivation of international experience is evidence of that. Rachael has participated in five different study abroad programs on four different continents while at Pitt Business (a record!). She designed one of the programs herself, along with the Director of International Programs and our Associate Dean. Rachael has been a strong advocate for the value of study abroad and its positive impact on students’ lives, both personally and professionally. She has spoken to many groups about the transformative nature of her international experience and provided encouragement to numerous students to take part.  Rachael has left a lasting mark on international programs at Pitt Business.

Rachael has also served the school as a Pitt Business Student Ambassador. In this role, Rachael meets with prospective students and speaks at admissions programs. Rachael is an outstanding Ambassador.  Rachael’s accomplishments could be daunting to prospective families. However, Rachael is genuinely warm, friendly, and down-to-earth. Because of this, she is highly impressive but not intimidating.  Rachael is particularly effective with prospective honors students. She is a fantastic representative of our program and the ways that students can thrive in it. Rachael has inspired many students to follow her example and begin their journey at Pitt Business.

Rachael’s greatest contribution, in my opinion, has been as a positive role model. She is well liked and respected by faculty, staff, and students alike. She leads by example. On a daily basis, Rachael demonstrates the benefits of throwing oneself wholeheartedly into the undergraduate experience, and of being open – to international experiences, academic and professional challenges, and to personal development. She illustrates, above all, how to make the very most of a college experience. She has forged her own unique path and done it in a graceful and unpretentious way.  I have no doubt that Rachael will continue to do so throughout her life and am eager to see where it leads.”

Lisa Cherok
Director of Admissions
University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration