2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Xavier Shankle, Wharton School

Xavier Shankle

Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)

“A politics nerd with limited sight but an ever-evolving vision.”

Fun fact about yourself: I was in a pro bowling league in middle school.

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

High School: Banneker High School

Major (Concentration): Business Economics & Public Policy

Favorite Business Course: Accounting 2110: Tax Policy and Practice in the Philadelphia Community

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles During College:

Student Body President: Elected to represent 10,000 Penn undergraduate students on various student life issues and internally elected to serve as chair and chief executive officer of the assembly.

Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board Co-Chair: Worked alongside Wharton administrators on initiatives to improve the academic experience.

Sphinx Senior Honors Society: The University of Pennsylvania’s first senior honor society, recognizing top student leaders who have made significant contributions to the university community.

Where have you interned during your college career?

McKinsey & Company, Atlanta, GA, Summer Business Analyst x2

The U.S. House of Representatives, Washington D.C., Legislative Intern

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Cape Canaveral, FL, Program Budget Analyst Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey and Company – Business Analyst

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Delving into the qualitative aspects of the business realm, particularly through my concentration in Business Economics and Public Policy at Wharton, has imparted upon me a profound lesson: The traditional paradigm of prioritizing the satisfaction of three stakeholders—investors, employees, and customers—is outdated. What I’ve gleaned from my studies is the recognition of a fourth stakeholder deserving of attention: the community. Businesses today have a responsibility to consider the impact they have on the communities they serve. It has become evident to me that effective leadership in the modern business landscape necessitates an awareness and responsiveness to the opinions, concerns, and actions of those beyond the confines of the firm. Understanding the evolving role of businesses in society resonates deeply with me, having witnessed firsthand the impact of corporate presence in my childhood community. Wharton has illuminated how businesses and communities can coexist harmoniously for mutual benefit.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? The most valuable investment for any student considering a business-related field is not in any commodity, but in the community they will become a part of during their time in business school. The individuals you will study alongside are some of the most intellectually passionate people you will encounter. Therefore, dedicating time, energy, and resources to cultivating meaningful friendships and relationships within the business school community will profoundly enhance your academic journey. While you will undoubtedly learn numerous formulas and theories to evaluate investments, nothing can compare to the invaluable insights and support gained from strong relationships when navigating the complexities of business school.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has astonished me most about majoring in business is the remarkable versatility of the frameworks learned. Initially, I perceived the business world as a distinct silo, with applicability limited to certain fields. However, my experience at Penn has shattered that notion. From studying Roman history to political communications and psychology, I consistently found that concepts from my business classes seamlessly intersected with diverse subjects. This revelation has transformed my perspective, demonstrating that a business education equips students with tools transcending traditional boundaries, capable of enhancing virtually any discipline. It’s a testament to the enduring relevance and broad applicability of the principles taught in business education.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my involvement in advocating for diversity and opportunity in higher education, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Affirmative Action.

As Student Body President, I sent a letter to the President of the United States ​​concerning the need to advance equity in higher education; in the Summer of 2023, I was invited to engage in substantive discussions with White House and Department of Education officials at the National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. Here, we explored innovative strategies and resources to expand access to higher education following the SCOTUS ruling on Affirmative Action. These discussions were pivotal in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the decision.

Following this, in fall 2023, I had the privilege of participating in a White House webinar focused on strategies for increasing diversity and opportunity in higher education. At the White House’s invitation, I contributed to the launch of new guidance to address this crucial issue. During the session, I asked about maintaining transparency in the admissions process while preserving its integrity, striking a delicate balance to meet student demands and uphold fairness.

These experiences, from engaging in national discussions to actively participating in policy initiatives, underscore my commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable educational landscape where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Which classmate do you most admire? Liz Weise is the classmate whom I most deeply admire. Whether collaborating in classes or serving together on the Dean’s Advisory Board, Liz consistently exemplifies a profound sense of empathy towards individuals from diverse backgrounds. Her intellectual acumen stimulates critical thinking and fosters an environment where complex challenges are thoughtfully addressed. Moreover, I greatly admire Liz’s unwavering commitment to integrity and honesty, qualities that have been invaluable in navigating numerous group projects. As Liz prepares to embark on her post-Wharton journey, I do not doubt that her integrity and intellectual rigor will continue to guide her toward remarkable achievements.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I am most grateful to Nia Robinson (W’22) for her pivotal role in my success. As my mentor, Nia was crucial in fostering the confidence I needed to navigate my journey at Wharton. Her embodiment of empathy and determination was an inspiring example from when I arrived. Nia’s guidance and support were instrumental in my decision to pursue leadership roles in student government and continue on my path toward law school. Her willingness to engage in candid discussions about the stigmas and challenges faced by students of color has been invaluable, providing me with insight and encouragement. Without Nia’s mentorship, I may not have achieved the success I have today.

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

Work on public policy solutions to close racial and socioeconomic equity gaps nationwide.

Become an attorney and public servant.

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

“It has been a pleasure to work with Xavier Shankle, a gifted student who possesses the intellect, the instinct, and the capability that define a truly thoughtful and committed leader. With his passion for championing the underserved, Xavier possesses an altruistic characteristic that is necessary as a future leader: a deep desire to be a true agent of change in the world. With a broad interest in dismantling legal and economic barriers for those who live outside the prevailing power structures, he has provided leadership and advocacy across the student body for a more equitable University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School. As student body president for the 10,000 undergraduates at Penn, he has shown unwavering poise in a challenging time for the campus, and at the same time, a supreme degree of integrity and leadership.

Given his standout performance in so many domains, it is not surprising that he has been sought after by McKinsey & Company as a two-year summer intern. His work as a business analyst not only helped him to develop leadership and analytical talents, but also has grown his perspective on HBCUs and their development efforts. In his internship on Capitol Hill, he co-sponsored memos on legislation that dealt with racial justice, while analyzing and formulating vote recommendations for over 100 amendments.

His ability to inspire and lead, coupled with a steadfast commitment to serving the underserved, positions him as a model of excellence and a beacon of positive impact for his peers and society at large.”

Jen Murphy
Executive Director
Wharton Undergraduate Division


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