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My W&L

"I've learned a diverse set of capabilities that has aided my transformation from a curious girl with a knack for business into a cognizant, concerned businesswoman aware of the challenges of this complex world."

Maggie Ackell '16

When people ask me what my field of study is at Washington and Lee, they are often shocked at my response. As a Business Administration major and a Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor, many think my two main areas of study are contradictory. Business, with its efficiency and speed, does not have time for the theoretical discussions of poverty ethics, right? Poverty is something the government should be worried about, not business, right? Taking a cue from the economist Milton Friedman, the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits, and nothing more, right? Wrong. The Shepherd Program has enriched my business degree in ways that the Williams School alone could not have. Having grounded myself in the Shepherd Program's classes, fieldwork, internship and extracurricular activities, I've learned a diverse set of capabilities that has aided my transformation from a curious girl with a knack for business into a cognizant, concerned businesswoman aware of the challenges of this complex world.

My first connection to the Shepherd Program was through the Volunteer Venture pre-orientation trip. I went to Greensboro and had a powerful volunteer experience at Greensboro Urban Ministry. Although I wanted to study something in the Williams School, I immediately felt compelled to take Poverty 101. During that first Fall Term, I received an email from Dean Straughan and Professor Oliver regarding BUS180, a first-year specific Spring Term Abroad course studying Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Having had no prior experience with the concept, CSR appeared to be the solution to the dichotomy of my interest in social justice and business. I was lucky enough to go to Copenhagen twice in my Washington and Lee career, once in my first year in the BUS180 class, and again in my sophomore year working as a consultant for BUS391, a consulting practicum centered around CSR and sustainability issues.

As a Shepherd student, I bring a unique perspective to courses like these that contrasts with that of "traditional" accounting and finance students. Often, we find ourselves so tightly concentrated on our pragmatic skills or on a specific project that we forget to see the bigger picture. Similarly, it is so easy to talk about what is practical, rather than what is ethical. However, the Shepherd Program has trained me to ask the hard questions that morality requires of us. In Rockbridge County, I have been face-to-face with an elderly disabled veteran, living in an assisted-living facility with scarce amenities and comforts. In Vietnam, I have been face-to-face with a young mother, smiling because her fruit cart has begun to turn profit for her family. In Greensboro, I have been face-to-face with a homeless man, thanking me for serving him lunch. These faces compel me to ask what is ethical, what is right, what is just. They compel me to bring humanity back into conversations of business or theory. They compel me to reject the "contradictory" nature of a Business Administration major and a Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor, because by trying to understand their plight just a little bit better, I am asking them to sit at the table and engage in the conversation with me. As I pursue a consulting career after graduation, I very much intend to keep Henry, Minh and Marcus in the conversations I have, knowing that a recommendation I make may very well have an impact on them or someone like them.

Maggie Ackell '16

Hometown: Appleton, WI

Major: Business Administration

Minor: Poverty & Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • ODK
  • Campus Kitchen Leadership Team
  • Washington and Lee Student Consulting
  • Mock Convention 2016
  • Volunteer Venture
  • Student Recruitment Committee
  • Running Club

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • CSR Consulting Practicum in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Shepherd International Internship doing Microfinance Consulting in Can Tho, Vietnam
  • Summer Associate at Palladium Strategy Execution Consulting in New York, NY

Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a career in consulting.

Favorite Class: This is the hardest question I will EVER answer! I have to go with Poverty 101 with Howard Pickett. It was the first class I ever attended at W&L, and therefore it was my first introduction to college classes. I have never been so challenged in my life! Ultimately, it taught me to be a better participant — to think (and REALLY think) before I speak, to say what I truly mean, to ask questions candidly, to write with conviction — which helped me not only in my further terms as a student, but also how to be a good citizen at W&L.

What professor has inspired you? You guys ask the tough questions. Although I only took one course with him, Professor Dickovick will forever influence me. His International Development course was hugely significant for me. I learned so much in such a short period of time, but it never felt overwhelming due to Dickovick's poise as a professor. Every conversation I had with him, whether it was in class, at Macado's or LexCo, in his office, walking down the street, I felt like I walked away having learned something. His kindness also inspires me. Whether you took a course with him or not, he always has a smile on his face and words of support for you. All of my friends know him and adore him, and we all have very different areas of study. I think that's a testament to the great person that he is.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: TAPS. Although it is new, it is the best! Trust me, the pimento cheese burger will blow your mind.

Why did you choose W&L: Fun fact... All three of my older siblings went here (graduation dates '08, '10, '13). I wanted to rebel and go against the family grain, but somehow W&L pulled me in. I visited the school during Spring Term when I was still on the waitlist for my first choice school, and I had a change of heart. I suppose the Ackell legacy was meant to be!

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Don't worry about a minor, double major, or triple major-seriously. Take classes that you find interesting, whether you think it applies to your major or not. Many of my most memorable (and fun) classes have been in art history, religion, and anthropology, which are all very different from my Business major.

A Foundation in
Ethics and Leadership

At Washington and Lee, leadership and integrity go way back--and hand in hand.

In Action People and Programs

"My wish is that in the near future and far beyond, our students will say that their lives were enriched by having had the opportunity during their time at W&L to grapple with challenging moral and ethical dilemmas as preparation for those that they will inevitably face throughout their lives, and that they develop courage of their convictions, but also the humility to question their own assumptions and learn from others." -- President Kenneth P. Ruscio

At Washington and Lee, leadership and integrity go way back-and hand in hand. Grounded in the timeless ideals of its legendary namesakes, the Washington and Lee community thrives on an ethic of honor and civility. An air of respect enables frank debate, resulting in a culture of open exchange and intellectual freedom. The revered, student-administered Honor System creates ideal conditions for an education based on integrity and trust. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, most buildings are open 24 hours a day, and students respect each other's personal belongings.

Washington and Lee also places high value on equipping its students to assume leadership roles in college and beyond--helping them carry forward our rich institutional legacy. Members of the faculty publish extensively on topics related to leadership and honor. Students interested in fostering their leadership skills will find countless opportunities on campus, in student organizations, student government and athletics, as well as programs and events like the Leadership Development Program and the Women's Leadership Summit. The first national college honor society to recognize leadership and extracurricular service, Omicron Delta Kappa, was founded and continues to thrive at W&L, and has spread to more than 300 other campuses.

To encourage a new generation of outstanding scholars, leaders and ethical citizens, the University recently created both the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity and the Mudd Center for Ethics. Funded by a $100 million gift from a W&L alumnus, the Johnson Program awards full tuition, room and board for about 10 percent of each class, endows two professorships, brings distinguished speakers to campus, and provides generous research stipends to students during the summer. The Mudd Center, established by a gift from the distinguished, award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, Class of 1950, provides a forum for dialogue, teaching and research about important ethical issues in public and professional life among students, faculty and staff. No wonder high numbers of Washington and Lee students rise to positions of prominence in their communities and around the world.

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At a Glance Facts and Figures

472 (roughly 75%) of the student body, participates in organized sports at the intramural, club or varsity level.
95% of the student body gets involved in the quadrennial Mock Convention.
1 rule in W&L's student-run, single-sanction honor system: no lying, cheating or stealing. Period.
W&L alumni include 31 governors, 26 senators, 67 congressmen and 4 supreme court justices.

Visit, Interview, Apply See Yourself Here

Ready to learn more? Come visit us in Lexington for a campus tour and class visit, or connect with one of our admissions counselors in a city near you. We look forward to meeting you.

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Step Two:

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Apply Quick Guide

  • Early Decision is a binding commitment; enrollment is required if you are accepted.
    • ED-1: Nov. 1
    • ED-2: Jan. 1
  • Regular Decision is for students who want to maximize options.
    • Deadline: Jan. 1
  • Johnson Scholarship (additional essay required, instructions on the W&L Writing Supplement to the Common Application.)
    • Deadline: Dec. 1
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Financial Aid and Scholarships

We seek to ensure that the cost of attending W&L does not prevent outstanding students from choosing to enroll. A generous need-based aid program and merit-based scholarships can make that investment more manageable than you may think. Visit Financial Aid for more information.

The Johnson Scholarship Program awards over 40 full tuition, room and board scholarships annually. Read More

Admitted students who meet financial aid deadlines and are found to have need will have their full need met with grant funds and a work-study job -- no loans.

The W&L Promise guarantees free tuition to any undergraduate student admitted to Washington and Lee with a family income below $100,000. Learn More

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Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.