Rachel Patterson, MBA ’15, has long been driven to change organizations for the better—from pushing for a more meritocratic soccer team in high school to driving process improvements as an analyst at PFC Energy. So when she discovered an untapped resource she thought could benefit MIT Sloan, she leaped into action.
Patterson founded the Fellowship Representatives Initiative to connect MIT Sloan fellowship recipients with one another, as well as with MIT Sloan’s external relations and admissions offices. The goal is to bolster the school’s donor outreach program and increase the pool of fellowship funding.
“The best way you can show gratitude for something you’ve been given is to pay it forward,” said Patterson, a fellowship recipient. “By contributing our time and staying connected, our engagement with the school enables us to continue to strengthen this amazing program.”
The Fellowship Representatives Initiative is intended to bolster support for the school by giving donors and recipients the chance to foster strong connections to the MIT Sloan community. Students have already helped create a thank-you video for alumni donors to the MIT Sloan Annual Fund. Patterson said she hopes to see networking events with donors and perhaps a major annual fundraiser.
The initiative formally launched with a luncheon held for all first- and second-year fellowship recipients on April 29.
“Class fellowships provide donors with a tangible connection to the school,” said Renee Hirschberg, associate director of alumni relations and annual giving, adding that all unnamed fellowships come from the MIT Sloan Annual Fund. “Many students have benefited from a fellowship, so being able to fund scholarships helps pay it forward to current and future MIT Sloan students.”
Receiving a fellowship cemented Patterson’s relationship with MIT Sloan. “I was awarded a fellowship during AdMIT Weekend at MIT Sloan, which was such a big deal for me,” she said. “It was an indicator that MIT Sloan wanted me as a student. That signal was so important in making me commit to the school.”
Through the Fellowship Representatives Initiative, Patterson said she hopes to give more people the opportunity to attend MIT Sloan. Now a newly minted graduate, she said the school more than lived up to her expectations; it changed how she thinks about her future. When she arrived, she knew little about operations; now she is starting a job working in operations at Apple.
MIT Sloan also gave Patterson a wide range of other opportunities, from meeting “a diverse class of really incredible, down-to-earth people” to working on a startup to participating in the Silicon Valley Pitch Trek. “You have all these opportunities to try on different hats and lead different groups of people, and that teaches you a lot about who you are,” Patterson said. “It’s been tremendous.”
Key contributors included Abhimanyu Chaudhry, MSMS ’15, a fellow member of the MIT Sloan Student Senate; Hirschberg; Dawna Levenson, director of MIT Sloan Admissions; and Jennifer Barba, associate director of Admissions.
“At the end of the day, this is about community building,” Patterson said, noting that the office of external relations, the admissions office, and the class of 2016 are already moving forward with building the initiative.