What do you do if you’re the daughter of two Ph.D.’s and you have no interest in following in their footsteps?
You go into business.
That’s the path Madeline “Maddie” Morris has pursued. For a kid with a parental duo of academics – Dad is chair of political science at University of Maryland and mom is the engineering program director at Johns Hopkins University – Morris has not followed a traditional higher ed route. In fact, the only reason she even ended up at UMW was that her parents made a spur-of-the-moment decision to pull off at the Fredericksburg exit on the way home from Maddie’s high school visit to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (one of seven schools to which she was accepted).
“There’s never been a doubt in my mind that I made the right decision in coming here,” Morris said in an interview this week on the eve of her final class presentation at Mary Washington. “I have had opportunities here that I wouldn’t have had at larger schools.”
Like walking unannounced into the dean’s office to ask a quick question (oh – and having dinner at the dean’s house six or seven times), learning how to buy and trade stocks through a student-managed investment fund, and holding one of the highest student leadership roles at the campus fitness center.
She said her mother encouraged her to major in business because she could get a good job without an advanced degree. Mom was right.
After working as a finance intern analyst at Unilever last summer, Morris – who also added math as a minor – was offered a full-time post-graduation position with the global consumer product company. She’ll head to New York City and start earning a Unilever paycheck shortly after commencement.
Locking in a job before starting her senior year allowed Morris to slack off a tad; an A-minus in the fall semester caused her GPA to slip from a 3.99 to a mere 3.98.
Morris is measured by much more than her GPA, said Lynne Richardson, dean of UMW’s College of Business and an unofficial mentor. “She’s incredibly bright, she can learn about anything she’s interested in and then run with that knowledge.”
Richardson added, “It’s been a joy to see Maddie explore her many interests during the four years I’ve known her.” She’s participated in the sign language club and the Dean’s Student Advisory Board. During spring semester of her junior year, she studied abroad in Bath, England. Also, she’s served as student representative for the Women’s Leadership Colloquium.
But where Morris has spent the bulk of her time outside the classroom is in the gym. As Group Fitness Student Coordinator for Campus Rec, Morris helped hire and oversee all the group fitness instructors. She trained instructors and became certified to teach yoga and barre.
Entering college, Morris said, she never imagined she would be immersed in both finance and fitness. “Mary Washington has given me the confidence and support to believe in my dreams.”
That duo of interests has also benefited the College of Business’ student-managed investment fund. Students in a class taught by Associate Professor Rachel Graefe-Anderson research particular companies, and the class decides in which ones to invest. “I researched lululemon athletica, and the financials are amazing,” Morris said. Students invested in the yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, and that stock remains one of the fund’s most successful.
Her stock pick, like her college choice has helped Morris fulfill her goal of making an impact.