2019 Best & Brightest: Lauren Epps, Wake Forest University

Lauren Epps

Wake Forest University School of Business

“A day-dreamer, idealist, creator, and most of all–a work in progress.”

Fun fact about yourself:

Hometown: Pleasanton, CA

High School: Amador Valley High School

Major: Business & Enterprise Management: Marketing Concentration

Minor: Sociology

Favorite Business Course: BEM 325: Consumer Behavior

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Student Manager, MRKT: WFU Graphic Design Team
  • Wake Forest University Undergraduate Business Council Member
  • School of Business Ambassador
  • WFU Clarinet Choir Member
  • Multicultural Ambassador
  • Dean’s List
  • Alex Sink Scholar
  • Price Scholar
  • Merit Scholar
  • Bank of America Leadership Award Recipient
  • Volunteer
  • Women’s Center
  • Dancer, AfriRhythmic: African & Caribbean dance group

Where have you interned during your college career?

Bay East Association of REALTORS – Pleasanton California: Communications Specialist Intern. During the summer of 2017, I interned at a non-profit called Bay East Association of REALTORS. An organization that seeks to give realtors the tools to succeed in the industry.

Emzingo – Johannesburg, South Africa: Global Impact Consultant   During this past summer I interned in Johannesburg, South Africa for a small social-enterprise called Emzingo that operates in the United States, Spain, Peru, and South Africa. I did consulting work for a company called eduSOIL that designs and teaches holistic learning programs for students in under-resourced schools.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Ernst & Young in their San Francisco office after graduation.

What company do you admire most? This previous summer when I did consulting work at Emzingo in Johannesburg, South Africa, I was exposed to and worked with multiple companies that function to better the lives of their surrounding communities. Whether it’s was working to serve artists, children in under-resourced schools, recent college graduates, or those living with disabilities, each organization has a purpose for social change. I have a specific admiration for companies with business models designed to create some type of change that directly increases the quality of life for those that it serves and hope to create one of my own in the future.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite business professors are Derek Avery and Kenny Herbst. Dr. Avery mentored me during my time in Johannesburg and, in times of hardship and self-doubt, he was able to give me great guidance and advice that helped improve my overall experience and bettered my performance as an intern. Dr. Herbst on the other hand, I’ve had for two classes now and can say that he’s one of the most insightful and enthusiastic professors I’ve had at Wake Forest. He really makes being in class fun. Lastly, both Dr. Avery and Dr. Herbst have done really important research on racial stereotypes and racial biases that I think contributes to a larger discussion on how we move forward in creating a truly equal society. So overall being able to learn from them both is something that I will carry with me.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? What I have enjoyed most about the WFU School of Business is the meaningful connections that I’ve been able to make during my time at Wake. My professors, career coaches, and advisers always go above and beyond to help me in whatever I’m preparing for or dealing with. This previous fall semester, I experienced two losses in my family. I remember reaching out to Mrs. Sharon Payne my adviser. She immediately called me on that Saturday morning and asked how I was doing. She told me that I could call her anytime to talk and was so intent on giving me comfort during that difficult time. I’m going to remember that moment for the rest of my life and will be forever grateful to Mrs. Payne and others like her in the business school who have helped me in all areas of my life.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I’ve learned from studying business is how many opportunities it has offered me and can be put towards in the future. I get excited just thinking about the possibilities and the confidence that I have to pursue them. Studying business has given me a foundation for the future as well as networking, and hands-on educational experiences that I’ll carry forward.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Majoring in business is all about what you make it! For me during my time at Wake Forest, it has opened doors to travel, meet people with different beliefs, nationalities, and perspectives; I have learned how business can be applied to everything and the impact that socially conscious business can play in creating change. Overall, business is such a broad and relevant field, so my advice would be to recognize what it can do for you and how to apply it to your specific interests – you’d be surprised where it can take you. It has given me the power to recognize my ability to create something out of nothing–and overall I think that’s what business is really about.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has surprised me most about business school is how close all of my classes tie together, inside and outside of the business school. With a sociology minor and a marketing concentration, there has been a lot of mutually applicable information from these two disciplines that I am able to use to enhance my learning in all of my classes.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Sociology definitely. I think it’s so important to understand as best as I can the ways in which our social institutions in America and other countries around the world function. By understanding this, it is easier to pinpoint the inequalities that different groups of people experience and find solutions to alleviate these issues.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I have a lot of strong successful black women in my life as role models. My mom, sisters, aunts, cousins, and mentors – I have been so fortunate! Pursuing a business degree was a bold choice for me. I’m a creative, artistic, and philosophically-minded person, so it didn’t at first feel like it would be the best fit for me. But having all of these inspirational women in my life, I see the fruits that life can bring when you choose to push yourself past of your comfort zone. The accomplishments they’ve made by way of pursuing their passions – whether it’s working for themselves, mentoring children, publishing insightful research, painting, and/or raising their own kids, they all worked hard to achieve their goals and have pushed themselves to do such. So having these representations of success for me was what made me want to leave my comfort zone and pursue business, knowing that I eventually want to work for myself one day in a form that is to be determined.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’m proud of my time working as the manager of MRKT, the student graphic design team on campus here. First of all, I love the job and the people who I work with. It allows me to be creative, meet new people, and improve my skills in leadership. Managing the team hasn’t always been easy, but it has and continues to teach me a lot about the ways in which everyone is different and people learn and thrive in different ways and to be a leader is to accommodate and adapt to different situations.

Which classmate do you most admire? Definitely my sister. She’s also a senior here at Wake Forest University studying Anthropology & Communications (I’m a triplet). Not only is she one of the most hard-working and smart people I know, but more importantly she has an open mind and a heart for inclusion, creating community, and making sure everyone that she comes across feels included and valid. I truly believe that it’s one thing to be a “good student” on paper (which she excels at), but it’s a whole different thing to be a good person, and I’ve enjoyed having her as an influence during my time here at Wake Forest University. There’s no better classmate that I’ve had here.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? For my success, I would like to thank most of all my parents. They are my foundation and every reason why I have gotten to where I am today. From a young age, my parents have instilled in me the confidence to try new things and believe in myself, even when the statistics of a particular situation might say otherwise. They have shown me through action that the fear of failure is not a valid reason not to try and I think that’s what has fueled a passion for applying to and doing different things in life that push me. As my Dad used to say all the time, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Becoming fluent in Spanish is a major bucket list item of mine. There’s no substitute for being able to connect with others in their native language and I also think that being fluent would open new doors for me. The second item on my bucket list is to visit every continent (except maybe Antarctica).

What are your hobbies? Photography & photo-editing, creating bomb playlists on Apple Music, people-watching, and traveling.

What made Lauren such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Lauren is intellectually gifted and committed, as are many of our students. What stands out to me about her, however, is her maturity and passion. She is very clear about her core values and you can see them in the way that she approaches her life. She constantly challenges herself to grow by stepping outside her comfort zone in creative ways aimed at not just making her better qualified for a job or career, but also making her a better human being. I find this combination to be quite rare and highly impressive in a person her age.”

Derek R. Avery, Ph.D.
David C. Darnell Presidential Chair in Principled Leadership

“I have had the pleasure of working with Lauren in our Principles of Marketing course and in our Consumer Behavior course. Lauren’s work ethic is tremendous and her positive attitude, warmth, and enthusiasm for life affect those around her in very uplifting ways. Lauren’s comments inside and outside of class reflect a thoughtful and deep understanding of the world. She has been an asset to the Class of 2019 here in the School of Business at Wake Forest University, and both the School and the University are even better placed as a result of her presence.”

Kenny Herbst
Associate Professor of Marketing

“Lauren is that exceptional student that goes beyond preparing…she thinks deeply about the material. She listens to classmates, speakers and the professor and then when she finally speaks up, everyone listens. Her words are always thoughtful and insightful.  She does not react angrily to issues of race or sex, but is very open and empathetic to other perspectives and shares her insights without judgment or condemnation. She moves the discussion in class to a higher plane.”

Holly H. Brower, PhD
Associate Professor




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