Melissa Dunn, BBA ’13, Supply Chain Major
by Sabine Wimmer, BBA Program
Before she was even 15 years old, Melissa Dunn had already visited more colleges than most people will see in a lifetime. Her mother, a high school guidance counselor, had been professionally visiting colleges for years and Melissa had been her trusted companion on these trips.
So when it came to her own college decision she had clear expectations and the nagging feeling that no school alone would be able to satisfy all her requirements: a top education in international business, excellent internship opportunities and a renowned Arabic program to polish her language skills. Melissa was convinced that she would have to compromise and choose one objective over the other. These were her thoughts until she visited The University of Texas at Austin.
Looking for a business degree following the advice and passion of her father, a trained accountant and CFO to several companies, Melissa was targeting the top 20 business schools in the nation. And this is how UT and McCombs came on the radar of this talented high school student from New Jersey.
On the tour of McCombs, she passed the stock ticker, saw a sign that advertised an event of the Undergraduate Business Council, and learned about the opportunities at McCombs and UT. “I arrived on campus on the Easter weekend of 2009 at 09:30 in the morning. By 11:00 a.m. I knew that this was the school I wanted to go to and that UBC was the organization I wanted to join, ” says Melissa.
She fully embraced all opportunities offered to her and approached them with the result-driven enthusiasm that defines her as a person. In her first years at McCombs she became an executive board member of UBC, served as the McCombs representative for Student Government and got involved with the organization “Teach for America,” a national teacher corps of college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years and raise student achievement in public schools.
As a result of her involvement she developed a deep interest in domestic policies to improve the lives of others. “I became so interested in and passionate about politics and the process of defining domestic policies that I started questioning my focus on business. My advisor, Lovelys Powell, helped me think through this and with his support I realized that a business degree is a strong foundation for policy making.”
The applicability of business skills to policy making is a fact that she was able to prove to herself during her internship semester with the Bill Archer Fellow Program in spring 2012. As a full-time intern with the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. she was tasked to research the economic impact of federal non-discrimination policies on federal contractors. Through her understanding of supply chain management, procurement structures and the ability to analyze balance sheets she quickly became a valued and respected team member.
Making an impact and changing things for the better has always been important for Melissa. “I was offered an internship at the White House to be in charge of the calendar of Melody Barnes, then Director of Domestic Policies. And my other offer came from the Center for American Progress where I would be able to do research. It wasn’t an easy decision but I went for the option that gave me the most insight into what life as a policy maker is really like and gave me the opportunity to publish two papers ,” says Melissa. After the internship, Melissa was sure that she wanted to pursue her passion of improving the lives of others focusing on the educational opportunities for children.
Back in Austin she added a government minor to her business degree and started to work as a recruitment intern for Teach of America. After her graduation, Melissa will join the teaching corps and has committed to a two year program in New Orleans teaching math to raise the skill levels of students in traditionally under performing high schools.
She knows that her business skills and her government training will serve her well on her path to Washington where she ultimately wants to be to influence policies on the highest level. “If we use what we learn in business school to fuel what we are passionate about, then we really change the world,” says Melissa and we know that this longhorn will do nothing less than that. We think “Melissa Dunn 2028” BBA ’13 sounds really good!*
*The presidential election of 2028 is the first time Melissa would be eligible to run for president of the U.S.A.
Papers co-authored by Melissa Dunn: