2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Ruku Pal, Miami University (Farmer)

Rukmini (Ruku) Pal

Miami University, Farmer School of Business

“Pursuing my passions with my caffeine addiction & color-coded spreadsheets.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have visited 12 countries across 3 different continents.

Hometown: West Chester, Ohio

High School: The Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio

Major: Business Economics

Minor: Global Health & Political Science

Favorite Business Course: Game Theory with Economic Applications

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Student Fellow and Peer Team Coach, The William Isaac & Michael Oxley Center for Business Leadership, Farmer School of Business (Spring 2019 – present) 

The Isaac & Oxley Center for Business Leadership (the Center) is an innovative and world-class undergraduate leadership program, focusing on value-based leadership to develop future leaders from top Farmer School of Business students. As a Student Fellow within the Center, I have held numerous leadership roles and engaged in multiple experiential training programs. I currently assist in full Center operations and function as a Co-Lead Student Fellow. Through this role, I organize full Center events amongst our 50 student fellows, serve as a resource for multiple initiatives and a key contact for our Center’s faculty Directors. I organized and led students as Co-Lead for Recruitment (August 2020-April 2021) and New Fellow Engagement (April 2020 – December 2020) Initiatives.

Secretary for Academic Affairs, Miami University Associated Student Government (September 2020 – present) 

The Associated Student Government represents the entire undergraduate student population to promote communication and understanding between the student body and the University, promote and further educational experiences and opportunities, and  expand student participation and involvement. Elected to represent over 17,000 undergraduate students on all activities and policies related to academics, I serve on 5 administrative and faculty committees across the University. As Secretary for Academic Affairs, I chair the Academic Affairs Committee within the Student Senate. To date, I have collaborated with the Provost’s Office and faculty members to present 4 policy proposals and address student concerns. Thus far, 2 initial proposals have come to fruition, and another is being discussed.

Oxford Campus Undergraduate Student Representative, Miami University Undergraduate Education Dean Search Committee (January 2021 – May 2021)

Miami University assembled a search committee for the position of Dean of Undergraduate Education/Associate Provost. As the Oxford Campus Undergraduate Student Representative, I collaborated with other members of the search committee to interview candidates, choose finalists to bring to campus and ultimately represent student interests.

Undergraduate Student Representative, President’s Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee (May 2020 – April 2021) 

To respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Crawford created the President’s Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee. Nominated as one of four undergraduate student representatives, I represented student interest while advising Miami University’s actions and responses for returning to campus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vice President of Recruitment, Business Student Advisory Council (November 2019 – November 2020)

The Business Student Advisory Council serves as a liaison between the Farmer School of Business Dean’s Suite and student population at the Farmer School of Business. I had the privilege of serving as Vice President of Recruitment and Membership, facilitating the growth of the organization through the application and interviews of new Farmer School students.

Awards & Honors:

Business Honors Program (Spring 2019 – present): Selected to participate in the Business Honors Cohort based on academic excellence and interviews.

Economics Departmental Honors (Spring 2020 – Spring 2021): Identified as a high-achieving economics student and invited to conduct research alongside faculty advisors. In Spring, 2021, the culmination of this research was presented through an undergraduate honors thesis, “Economic Effect of Sole Hospital Closure and Rural Community,” and presentation at an honors  conference.

Miami University Presidential Medalion & Proclamation (Fall 2020): The President’s Medallion and Proclamation is the premier honor at Miami University to recognize individuals who exemplify Miami University’s values of Love and Honor.

Commendation from the city of Oxford (Fall 2020): Proclamation to salute the valuable contribution to the City of Oxford on the President’s Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee.

Commendation from Ohio State Senate (Fall 2020): Proclamation to salute the valuable contribution to the State of Ohio on the President’s Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee.

President’s List (Spring 2020, Spring 2021): Recognizing academic excellence among the top 3% of undergraduate students within the Farmer School of Business.

Beta Gamma Sigma (Spring 2020): Inducted into the international business honor society as among the top 10% of students in the top 5% of business schools around the world.

Dean’s List (Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019): Recognizing academic excellence among the top 20% of undergraduate students in the Farmer School of Business.

1N5 Youth Mental Health Innovation Challenge – Winning Team (Summer 2019): As a member of the Positive Pandas team, we utilized design thinking methods to innovate new methods of stopping the stigma and starting the conversation about mental illness. Our proposal won a $5000 grant to implement our innovative idea in a Cincinnati-area school.

Where have you interned during your college career? (List Companies, Locations and Roles)

Intern at Hart Research Associates – Washington D.C. (June 2021 – July 2021) Hart Research Associates is a leading public opinion research firm in Washington, D.C. As an Intern, I assisted on client projects with nonprofit and news organizations as well as corporations, compiling quantitative data to compare subgroup trends over time. I analyzed quantitative and qualitative survey results to uncover common themes and takeaways for analysis. A culmination of the skills I gained was presented in an examination of over 150 transcripts among survey participants to develop recommendations.

Intern at 1N5 – Cincinnati, OH (June 2020 – September 2020)

1N5 is a mental health awareness and education nonprofit dedicated to stopping the stigma and starting the conversation surrounding mental health. Over the course of my internship, I developed databases and analyzed data from 30+ Cincinnati-area schools to discover unique correlations and connections. I gathered and organized these findings as part of a Fifth-Third Bank grant-funded research project with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Loan Specialist Intern at LendKey Technologies Inc. – Cincinnati, OH, (June 2019 – August 2019)  LendKey Technologies facilitates the connection between lenders and consumers for  private student loans, student loan refinancing, and home improvement loans. As a Loan Specialist Intern, I trained to work with private student loans and refinancing  student loans, analyzed government issues identifications, proof of graduations and  current transcripts. Ultimately, I collaborated with other interns to present improvement strategies for customer service processes to upper management.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation from Miami University, I am excited to join Deloitte Consulting as a Strategy Analyst. I have spoken extensively with other Deloitte employees and am thrilled to begin my career there!

Who is your favorite professor? Dr. Megan Gerhardt is much more than a professor to me. She has been one of my biggest supporters, mentors, and advisors over the past 4 years. Megan pushes me beyond my comfort zone, encourages me to embrace my strengths and lead true to my values. In times of ambiguity or uncertainty, she has always been my sounding board. In times of celebration, she bakes the best chocolate chip cookies. Beyond always being there for me, she has irrevocably shaped the leader I am. Megan has shown me how to embrace my own unique, passion-driven leadership style, and never fails to expand my horizons as we explore new opportunities together. This is my final semester as her student, and she embraced the idea of an independent study together. As a result, I have been fully applying the skills I’ve gained to an experiential leadership opportunity, to assist her in redirecting the Isaac & Oxley Center for Business Leadership, where she is a faculty director. I can whole-heartedly say Megan is one of my favorite professors, and absolutely one of my favorite people.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Business is truly integrated into every field of study. I entered my college career with a very diverse set of interests and pursued various areas of study through my minors in Global Health and Political Science. These different disciplines have been easy to bridge with a business background, as it is a field embodied within every other. Studying business has made it easier to understand the world around me, and given valuable, adaptable tools and skillsets that can be applied well beyond business courses.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Studying business is challenging. There are a variety of disciplines, each leveraging a diverse skill set that will push you beyond your comfort zone. And the key to all of it is to find your people. You need to develop your network and find your people – the ones who will always have your back but are never afraid to challenge you. These are the mentors and advisors who will push you outside your comfort zone, while being your safety net when you need them. I would not be the person I am without my people. In any business-related field, it is the people you meet and the relationships you build that will shape your experiences.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I entered the Farmer School of Business as a business undecided major, unsure that business was even the right field of study for me. Majoring in business economics, I was absolutely surprised with how much I enjoyed the field and my classmates. My perception of business was very stiff and aloof, fully incompatible with my energetic and passionate personality. However, the Farmer School of Business quickly proved me wrong, providing an open and welcoming environment where I could utilize my own strengths to discover what business meant for me.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my growth and leadership within the Isaac & Oxley Center for Business Leadership. I joined as a very nervous freshman, unsure what I would gain from the Center. While I expected the leadership training and values-based coaching, I never dreamt of finding the incredible support system that would be my home at the Farmer School of Business.

Through the Center, I not only learned about myself, my leadership style and how to work (and coach) teams most effectively, but was provided the opportunity to flourish. Our cohort was a remarkable group of high-achieving students, building a network of individuals that remain close friends to this day.  Through the Center, I was able to explore my interests and grow my leadership, innovating the New Fellow Engagement Initiative. Ultimately, I co-led the Initiative to engage new recruits since we were virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My role within the Center continued to grow, as I was Co-Lead for the Recruitment Initiative, and later the Mentorship Initiative. Today, I am a Co-Lead for the Center as a whole, assisting the faculty directors in the daily functions of the Center. It is a far cry from the nervous freshman who initially joined the organization. This semester, I am working with Megan Gerhardt, one of the faculty directors, through an independent study to redirect the mission of the Center, and hope to leave a lasting legacy for future students to discover their own potential.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire is Amitoj Kaur. Her genuine leadership and determination are an inspiration, but this is not the core reason for my admiration. Amitoj leads with her heart, selflessly working for others. She has taken her life in her own hands, climbing every obstacle in her path with ease. As a first-generation college student and a commuter to Oxford, she ambitiously pursues her own education. Amitoj is never one to back down from a worthwhile challenge, and continuously pushes herself beyond her comfort zone, particularly for others. As one of two Student Trustees on Miami University’s Board of Trustees, Amitoj was nominated by Governor DeWine to represent the student body. She redefined the role, rebuilding past connections with the Associated Student Government and implementing frequent student organization visits across campus. Amitoj’s determination, perseverance, and willingness to  always fight for what is right with tact and grace is an inspiration, and I cannot wait to see the incredible  ways in which she changes the world.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mama has always put her family first. She immigrated to the US with $750 and a suitcase, married my father, and created a base for our extended family in the US. While building a life for herself, she broke barriers, becoming the first non-white female tenured professor in Miami’s Economics Department. My mama focused on empowering those around her, and her mission never changed though her position in her career would, as she became the Associate Dean at the Farmer School of Business. Her passion and courage were never unnoticed, and the leaders she created around her were always exceptional. Her current role is Dean of the Chaifetz School of Business at Saint Louis University. My mama is my inspiration, my rock, and has shaped the person I am today.

I cannot thank her enough. It is not just the home-cooked meals and laundry assistance over breaks, the late-night phone calls before exams, or the early morning wake-up calls before an interview. It is simply her; her fiery spirit that is never diminished by anyone or anything. She proved how far you can go by being true to yourself and supporting those around you, and it has fueled my own endeavors. Mama, I have had successes before (and hopefully will again), but the true joy comes from celebrating with you.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I hope to pursue a master’s degree. Education has been a formative part of my life with numerous professors in the family and has fueled a life-long desire to learn. My great sadness come May will not be due to graduation, but rather leaving school! (Though I am thrilled to know my next step and begin my career at Deloitte Consulting.) I hope to one day return to school and continue to expand my knowledge and understanding of the world.

Another goal on my professional bucket list is to work in another country at some point in my career. I love to travel and want to embrace my career to its fullest. Living and working in another country will allow me to embrace a new culture and learn more firsthand than I ever could from a textbook! I absolutely loved studying abroad in Southeast Asia before COVID, and hope to grow my travel experiences through my career.

What are your hobbies? I love to travel, and hope to one day visit every continent! I spend a lot of time with my friends and family, usually over coffee or board games, but can also be found curled up with my cat reading.

What made Ruku such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“As you know she is a Business Economics major with minors in Political Science and Global Health, and when I think about her, this all makes sense.  She is amazingly bright and very diligent, but she truly cares about others and what is going on around her and the world.

She fights for fairness for others and I think when you look at her activities on campus, they reflect this passion.  Being part of CBL, BSAC and ASG demonstrate her involvement, but also her interest in the process and her concern that others are treated appropriately.  She will do great things and those accomplishments may not be entirely focused on her success, but more so on helping others.

Jan Taylor
Senior Lecturer & Director of Farmer School of Business Honors and Scholars Program

“I have known Ruku Pal for three years as a professor of management and leadership and as Director of the Isaac & Oxley Center for Business Leadership at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University. In my 18 years of being a college professor, Ruku has been one of the most impressive students I have encountered. While her accomplishments speak for themselves, I am happy to share my perspective of her academic abilities, the tremendous leadership impact she has made across campus.

Academically, Ruku exemplifies intellectual curiosity. She is a stellar student, as evidenced by her strong GPA, but her impact is more significant than that. I have had the opportunity to have Ruku in two of my intensive leadership labs, where students explore how their core values and strengths allow them to add unique value and inspire others. She set herself apart very early on, thinking deeply about the questions posed to the class. She was among the first to identify and share her driving core value with her classmates: passion. She articulated how her passion drives her to mobilize herself and others to take action for causes she cares about, including mental health. She worked hard to challenge herself to be more intentional on where she spent her time to maximize the impact she would have on campus. Her engagement, whether arguing in support of a topic or against an issue in question, motivated her classmates to become more engaged and think more carefully about what was being discussed. Ruku makes the class better by being part of it, and those in the room learn more because she was there.

I can speak most specifically about Ruku’s leadership potential. I have worked closely with her as Director of the Center for Business Leadership, where she is a Student Fellow. Since joining the Center, she has been proactive in demonstrating inclusion and responsibility. Ruku is a wonderful example of a servant leader. As stated by the Center for Servant Leadership, servant leadership is “a lifelong journey that includes the discovery of oneself, a desire to serve others, and a commitment to lead. Servant-leaders continually strive to be trustworthy, self-aware, humble, caring, visionary, empowering, relational, competent, good stewards, and community builders.” These are the things I see daily from Ruku.

While there are many, I want to share two specific examples of Ruku’s leadership. I believe these examples also speak to her ambassadorial potential, a key element of the Marshall Scholarship. First, after less than one year as a Student Fellow in the Center for Business Leadership, Ruku proposed a new program designed to welcome and engage our new Fellows in the values and work of the Center. She felt strongly that our newest students needed to be allowed to connect and learn from older Fellows as early as possible. She took the initiative to design and execute this program over the summer (when our students have no formal responsibilities to the Center). This was amid the pandemic when most of us had little capacity for taking on extra responsibilities. She recruited members of her cohort to work with her, reached out to our newest Fellows, planned (virtual) programming, and succeeded in fully welcoming these new members into our Center with a spirit of inclusion and by setting a powerful example of what it means to step up and lead. Ruku has continued to set this example during her senior year by volunteering to do the thankless work of handling the administrative details of running the Center, a job she does seamlessly and without need for acknowledgment.

The second example of Ruku’s leadership and ambassadorial potential comes from our time serving together on the Safe Return to Campus Committee, a team formed in Summer 2020 to support the difficult work of keeping our campus open amidst the pandemic. Ruku was appointed one of the student members of this committee, which met for 4 hours each week throughout the summer and fall. In her role, she represented the student’s voice and shared the concerns of her classmates, asking the tough questions and helping us understand how to better support the needs of our students during this time of chaos. After one particularly difficult meeting, Ruku reached out to me for advice. She felt the students she represented were not being heard by key stakeholders on the committee and wanted to understand how to successfully advocate without stepping on toes. We spent many hours on the phone discussing this challenge. She was both thoughtful and resolute, firm in her conviction that she had a responsibility to fulfill but understanding that there were sometimes competing needs being balanced by the university. It was a tough challenge for all of us, and it would have been easy for her to quit when things became difficult. Instead, she looked at it as an opportunity to learn and understand how to stay true to her core values as a leader. She showed up at our next meeting resolute but with a greater understanding of how to build consensus and support among those who thought differently than she did.

Ruku has inspired me to be a better leader and a better teacher by setting an example for all of us. She strives for excellence in everything she dedicates herself to do, and she represents the best of who we are. While I do not think she needs any recommendations from external sources to demonstrate her amazing abilities and drive to improve our society, it is my honor to write this letter to provide my strongest support.”

Megan W. Gerhardt, Ph.D.
Professor & Robert D. Johnson Director, The Isaac & Oxley Center for Business Leadership
Director of Leadership Development, Farmer School of Business




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