2021 MBAs To Watch: Rachelle Antoine, University of Florida (Warrington)

Rachelle Antoine

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

I am a lover of people

Passionate communicator

Adventurous in spirit

And a creative at heart”

Hometown: Miami, FL

Fun fact about yourself: I am a spoken word artist and a poet. I have been writing and performing poetry as a spoken word artist for the past 10 years now. When I was 16, I got my first poem published in a book. I was super proud and still have the book to this day. However, it’s not my favorite so I like to direct others to my most recent work.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of Florida, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

B.A. : Family, Youth and Community Sciences

Minor: Nonprofit Leadership

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before Business school, I worked at Wells Fargo as a Lead Teller. In this customer facing role, I got to solve a lot of people’s day to day problems, but I wasn’t able to make an impact on more strategic decisions that would impact the business. Business school was that bridge to gaining more strategic leadership opportunities.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I was a Strategic Marketing Intern at Owens Corning. My internship was remote, so I stayed in the Gainesville area.

Where will you be working after graduation? I accepted a full-time offer at Owens Corning as part of their Marketing Strategic Leadership Development Program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* Nominated by MBA President to lead a team of 6 as CEO of Gator MBA Gear. Gator MBA Gear (GMG) is a student-run apparel business that raises funds towards activities, programming and events for the MBAA. This role gave me the opportunity to be a part of the MBAA Leadership team that makes decisions and programming to advance the UF MBA student experience.

* UF Recruiting & Diversity Initiatives – Increased awareness to diverse groups about the UF MBA program. Organized and developed presentations for Jumpstart Advisory Group, UFMBA Diversity Weekend and UF Black Students in Business. Became a UF MBA Ambassador for recruitment, connecting with prospective and admitted students to answer their questions, show them around campus (pre-COVID), and get them acclimated to the program.

* Career and Peer Mentor (CAP), mentoring over 50 grad students throughout their career journey. I also aided them in resume building, mock interviews, and career fair prep.

* We Are Warrington Podcast Guest – Invited by UF Executive Director of Recruiting, Andy Lord to share my UFMBA experience on episode two of the new, We Are Warrington podcast.

* National Black MBAA Scholar 2019 – Nominated as National Black MBA scholar of the UF MBA program.

* Case Competitions – Competed in 3 case competitions including Deloitte & HP Human Capital Case Competition at Vanderbilt University (2019), UF MBA’s Virtual Internal Case Competition sponsored by EBSCO (2020), and UF’ MBA’s Virtual Internal Case Competition sponsored by ABInBev (2021). Placed 2nd in UF MBA’s VICC sponsored by ABInBev!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my involvement in UF Diversity Initiatives. As a Black business student, I realized that Black enrollment in MBA programs across the country were low. Statistically, Blacks are underrepresented in the corporate world especially in Executive and C-suite levels; part of this is because of the low representation of Black students enrolled in an MBA. It became a goal of mine to increase awareness about what an MBA can do for Black professionals and share how the UF MBA has positively and significantly changed my career.  Hearing students say they were encouraged or inspired to pursue an MBA after listening to my story was the highlight of my MBA experience. As I graduate from business school this spring, I am excited to continue this advocacy for diversity in the corporate world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At 22 years old, after hearing about an opportunity to start a church in college, I moved to Colorado on my own just three months after graduating with my B.A.  I was 1 out of 6 team members from all over the country. This experience pushed me out of my comfort zone as I led in various roles of leadership before I felt ready. I led multiple groups with people twice my age and held roles as Director of Children’s Ministry, Worship Leader, and Core Leadership Member.  I learned how to build something from the ground up, how to influence others under one cause, and how to involve a community. I also learned the confidence to be myself and go after what I wanted. Without this experience, I would not have had the confidence and opportunities that led me to pursue an MBA. And there is nothing more rewarding than visiting an organization you helped start that still exists today.

Why did you choose this business school? As a former graduate of the University of Florida, it’s no surprise that UF MBA was one of the programs I researched during my MBA search. As a student from a nontraditional background and a career pivoter, having access to the best support and resources to change my career was crucial in my decision-making. I spoke with one of the Associate Directors of the program and heard how UF MBA had a dedicated career services support with over 90% of students had a full-time offer, within 3 months after graduation. Not to mention, the UF MBA’s Career Services was ranked #2 in the country at the time. I got to experience the top-tier preparation, support, and opportunities that came my way in the UF MBA program. I could not have imagined all the Fortune 500 companies that I would get to interview with.  As I look back, I am so happy I chose UF MBA; they definitely delivered on their career services support!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Yang Yang’s Product Development class was one of my favorite classes! All of her assignments and group projects gave you a real sense of how products are developed from ideation to market. She equipped us with tools and concepts that I was able to implement in my summer internship. All her concepts were extremely relevant and practical. Dr. Yang Yang made the class so engaging and enjoyable all while in a virtual format!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Going to Gator MBA Tailgates was by far one of my favorite traditions. UF MBA Tailgates brings former alumni and current students together to play games, bond, and prepare us to cheer on our favorite football team! The camaraderie that took place, friendships that were built and networking really added value to the program overall. Every top MBA program has highly competitive students who are smart and ambitious. But aside from the caliber of the students, UF MBA recruits kindness. It’s reflective of how our program comes together and helps one another in the classroom, during the job search, and in life. That is why tailgating is my favorite tradition, it highlights the one of the best parts of our program: the people.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? When I first came into the program, I struggled with imposter syndrome because I wasn’t sure I could successfully pivot into the finance field or that I fit in business school. By October of my first year, I had a finance internship offer with E&J Gallo. Although I didn’t choose this offer, I proved to myself I could pivot into any career I chose. So, if I had to do one thing over, I’d tell myself to be confident, don’t worry so much, and enjoy the ride!

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think one of the biggest myths about our school is that our small size inhibits us from competing with other larger MBA programs for the best jobs. Our small size is actually what benefits us the most! Because we are a small program, we have dedicated support from our business career services team about our personal career goals. We operate like family . When one needs interview prep, support, or networking, we go above and beyond to help one another. UF MBA has the best of both worlds in that while we are a smaller MBA program, we also have access to the large University of Florida alumni network and the saying is true: “The Gator Nation is everywhere.” And every year, our students prove just that by getting placed in competitive roles alongside the best and brightest at Microsoft, P&G, General Mills, and Amazon to name a few!

What surprised you the most about business school? I thought business school would be every man for himself. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I didn’t expect to meet my best friends here. Business school is an experience of its own: the job search, the group projects, the case competitions, and career fairs make for a never-ending list of things to keep you focused and learning. It’s the people in my program who kept me going in the hustle and bustle that is business school. They are brilliant, hard-working, compassionate, and kind. They have made this process unforgettable. I was pleasantly surprised to be a part of a cohort of 33 other individuals who have encouraged me, connected me with the right people, and challenged me to do the hard things. My cohort makes me hopeful that good change is coming as my they take their place as future business leaders and world changers!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? In my optional essay for the UF program, I shared a commissioned poem I wrote for the Palm Beach Women’s Network in South Florida. I shared how that experience taught me the value of collaboration, failure, and growth. I got to showcase how my creativity would translate not only into the business world but also bring value to the UF MBA program. It was a personal way to demonstrate my skills and abilities and highlight what made me unique. My advice for students is to find what makes them stand out and highlight how those skills, abilities, and experiences will bring value to the program they want to get into!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? One of the classmates I admire the most is Perry Dube. From the first time I heard Perry presenting on a business case, his ingenuity and strategic outlook really got my attention. I have never seen anyone as consistently bring their best to any role, project, or task they are given. I have worked with Perry in group projects, extracurricular activities, MBAA leadership events, and have always been impressed by the caliber of his work as well as his leadership abilities. If there is anyone I’d want on my team to solve a problem or overcome a challenge, its Perry! Outside of the classroom, Perry is a great friend! One of my favorite memories was when Perry asked if he could have a conversation about race and hear more about my experience as a black woman. It was one of my favorite conversations about race in the program! After the conversation, he took action; he looked up my recommendations on movies and resources about race and addressed issues on his own social media platforms. I am beyond grateful for his friendship and I am looking forward to seeing him progress as a leader in General Mills!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The transition from in-class to fully online was seamless and quick. About a week after our spring break, the whole program was fully online. However, the most disruptive part was not being able to hang out with my peers on a daily basis. At the time, all my roommates moved out and I was living on my own. There were no more socials, water cooler chat in between classes, or just normal everyday events that brought MBA students together. It was the little things that made the program great that I missed the most. As the second year started, everyone was acclimated to both online and hybrid classrooms. It took a bit to get used to virtual programming, but I have been so impressed by the program and student leaders who continue create events like virtual happy hours, internship send-offs, cooking classes, fitness activities, and more. I didn’t expect the world to change while in business school, but I couldn’t have been more happy about being in business school during a pandemic!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Lisa is a nonprofit founder, missionary, and social activist and friend of mine. By the age of 30, she had started 2 nonprofits in France that were actively fighting human trafficking. After hearing her speak one day, I asked if she would be willing to chat with me. I told her about my aspiration about opening my own nonprofit one day. She asked me a simple question, “So what do you need to achieve this goal?” We chatted and going back to school was one of the things we talked about. This conversation made me realize learning about the business world and gaining experience in the corporate world would help me reach my life-long goal of creating a foundation to support nonprofit organizations. Not long after, I was on my first interest call with UF and the rest is history.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My first professional bucket list item is exploring the idea of becoming an C- suite level executive of a Fortune 500 Company. So few black professionals have held the position and I would like to hold that title to show others they can do the same. I look forward to building the right skill set over the years as well as learning from amazing leaders along the way!

My second professional bucket list item is to start my own foundation to financially support nonprofits. While getting my minor in Nonprofit leadership, I learned many nonprofits have great programs and initiatives that can transform communities. However, creating a sustainably financial organization that helps the community is difficult for many smaller local entities. I would like to provide financial literacy programs for nonprofits to teach them revenue generating strategies, long term planning and strategic decision making. My goal is to only give a nonprofit entity a grant once and then teach them how to financially sustain themselves for the future. As I work in the corporate world, I plan to gain the knowledge and business acumen to one day implement these strategies.

What made Rachelle such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Rachelle Antione (UF MBA 21’) is an innovative, collaborative, and passionate student whose incredible work ethic exceeds expectations and consistently produces high quality results. This has been evident from the minute she enrolled in the two-year MBA program in Fall of 2019 when she immediately immersed herself in the student experience. During her tenure, she has served as a CAP Mentor, participated in Case Competitions, served as an admissions ambassador, and held the position of CEO of Gator MBA Gear as part of the MBAA executive board.

Rachelle’s leadership and dedication to her classmates, the program, and even the college is like no other. As a Career and Peer (CAP) Mentor for Business Career Services, Rachelle provides career coaching to Specialized Master’s students. There, Rachelle devotes her knowledge and time to resume critiques, mock interviews, and more. Coupled with this, she uses her case competition experience to provide tips, tricks, and practice case sessions to students navigating this as part of their career search. Her passion for communication and relationship management has all been reflected in her role as an admissions ambassador. As an ambassador, Rachelle serves as an integral part of the representation of the UF MBA program: connecting with prospective students and participating in recruiting events. An example of this would be Rachelle’s participation in our inaugural Diversity Weekend in Spring 2020, a recruitment event focused on attracting prospective MBAs who identify with an underrepresented race, ethnicity, identify as woman, LGBTQ+, or background, such as veterans. Passionate about this topic, Rachelle returned in the second year to facilitate a presentation alongside staff on how to finance your MBA.

Rachelle’s passion for Diversity and Inclusion has been elevated through her facilitation of admissions information sessions for black business students, and in her participation as the first student featured in the recently launched, We Are Warrington podcast. As a participant, Rachelle led a conversation titled “From classmates to alumni, relationships matter,” which was about switching career paths, being involved in UF MBA’s diversity initiatives, and making relationships that help guide career decisions.

While being involved in all of this, Rachelle has also spent the last year serving as CEO of Gator MBA Gear, a student-run business that is licensed to sell UF MBA merchandise. Leading a team of 6, Rachelle has had to direct the efforts of how the organization would continue to generate revenue while navigating the challenges of a global pandemic and not having in-person sales. Her dedication, ability to think outside the box, skills as an effective business leader in conjunction with the collaboration of her team, allowed for them to effectively generate revenue in a small window of time.

Rachelle will embark on her next journey at Owens Corning, after completing her studies and leaving behind an impactful legacy on the program and college.”

Shane C. Van Deree
Assistant Director of Engagement



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.