2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Maria Falk, Purdue University (Daniels)

Maria Falk

Purdue University, Daniels School of Business

“My friends would expect to find me in Wisconsin snowboarding, wake surfing, kitesurfing, or snowmobiling.”

Fun fact about yourself: I restored a 1969 Ford Mustang with my dad when I was 15.

Hometown: West Lafayette, Indiana

High School: West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School

Major: Accounting

Minor: Data Concentration

Favorite Business Course: MGMT 506 Auditing

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Larsen Leaders Academy Executive Board

Vice President of Communications (2021)

President (2022)

Daniels School of Business Outstanding Sophomore Award

Purdue University Trustees Scholarship Recipient

Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program (BOP ’20)

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Research Search Committee

Executive Forum Student Associate

Dean’s List (Seven Consecutive Semesters)

Semester Honors (Seven Consecutive Semesters)

Two-time Intramural Sport Champion (Flag Football)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Summer 2022- PricewaterhouseCoopers (Start Intern), Denver, Colorado

Summer 2023- PricewaterhouseCoopers (CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellowship), Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Where will you be working after graduation? Master of Science in Accounting

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? One of the aspects of studying business that is so different from other majors is the number of things going on outside of the classroom. Whether it is events, student executive boards, or interviews, there are countless opportunities presented to each student the second they accept their admission. I quickly found myself feeling overwhelmed with how full my schedule became and I felt disappointed as I was stretched too thin to contribute fully. I learned that I needed to determine what I wanted from my college experience and say yes to the opportunities that aligned with my goals. I think the biggest lesson I learned was how to say no and how to structure my priorities.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Going into business, I always heard about the importance of networking. I was still shocked though by the number of opportunities that can come from creating relationships with the right people. The alumni network at Purdue University is expansive and full of industry professionals who are eager to help you with whatever questions you might have. I never expected such busy people to be so happy to assist someone they have never met. I have had incredible opportunities to attend events and connect with industry professionals that I look up to that wouldn’t have been possible without my network.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? It is a predictable response, but I would have studied abroad. I was actually signed up to go to Singapore for the spring semester of my junior year, but I changed my mind and decided to stay on campus instead. The timing of the program just wasn’t right for me, and I knew it would be difficult to be that far away for so long. At the end of the day, I am happy I chose to stay back and I’m thankful for the memories I made while on campus. However, I think it is the one experience that I really missed out on, and I wish I had the courage to complete a semester in another country.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of completing my first triathlon when I was 16. I grew up watching my dad compete in triathlons, and one year I decided that I wanted to train and complete one myself. I had always been active, but I was unprepared for the rigorous swim, bike, and run that was required for the race. I am proud of myself for sticking to my training schedule and pushing through the tough workouts.

Which classmate do you most admire? When I think about this question, one person stands out to me most. Cora Olsen, my friend and classmate, became an inspiration for me throughout my time at Purdue. Her calm demeanor always gave me the assurance I needed in my daily life to persevere through whatever was going on at that moment. Cora and I both worked for a weekly event in our business school and from the moment I met her, I knew we would quickly become friends. We began to look forward to seeing each other every week, where we would both share our weekly celebrations and, more often than not, downfalls. From that point on, we even began to plan to spend time together outside of work. I admire the way Cora handles adversity and disappointment by staying true to herself, a practice I implement in my life to this day. Even though Cora is now graduated and we don’t speak as often, she has left a lasting impact on my life.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I am eternally grateful for my parents. My dad has been my greatest mentor by showing me what it takes to succeed and equipping me with the confidence to do great things. He taught me how to properly shake someone’s hand when I was a kid and he helped me craft my very first resume when I was a freshman. My mom has been my best friend; I can always count on her to answer my (many) phone calls and she has always been a comforting shoulder to cry on. Their encouragement has allowed me to grow and flourish. Also, I want to thank my boyfriend, Daniel, for his unrelenting support and love for me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Work internationally
  2. Fund a full-ride scholarship for minority women in business

What made Maria such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Maria embodies what it means to be a Daniels School of Business student. She is intelligent, collaborative and a natural leader. I remember the first time I met Maria as a freshman; I knew she was going to make an impact on the Daniels School. She was eager to get involved and find opportunities to grow and stretch herself. Since then, she has served as president of the Larsen Leaders Academy executive board, mentored underclassmen in the Business Opportunity Program, and welcomed many business leaders from the community through her role as an ambassador for the Executive Forum.

Maria’s hard work at Purdue University has also been recognized outside campus. She interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Summer 2022, and upon her return in Summer 2023, she was one of two interns chosen to work with the CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellowship team. As she enters into a Master’s of Science in Accounting program this fall, she will bring with her open-mindedness, analytical skills and the ability to contribute right away to any cross-functional team. She is exceptional and I look forward to her future accomplishments. Her future is bright and full of possibility.”

Julie Birkner
Lead Academic Advisor, Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business


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