Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Adrienne Miller, Rice University (Jones)

Adrienne Miller

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Self-assured, intellectually curious, travel and lifestyle enthusiast, focused on supporting women through entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I collect children’s books. I have bought a book in every country I’ve visited in the language(s) of that country, in the hope that I will open the world up for children like me. When I was a kid, I couldn’t fathom how big, beautiful and interesting the world is.

Undergraduate School and Major: Davidson College, Center of Interdisciplinary Studies – Public Health

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: ALSAC/ St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as an ALSACx Project Manager of Innovation

What has been your favorite part of Houston so far? Why? I am a native Houstonian but have been away for a decade living on the East Coast, in Switzerland, Morocco and Jordan, as well as traveling the world. For me, my favorite part of Houston will always be being with my family and community, but I truly geek out for our food scene here and of course our Houston Astros.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Rice Business MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Rice is consistently the top MBA program for entrepreneurship – this year being our fourth at No. 1! When I decided to make a career pivot, I wanted to explore a path in venture capital for tech where I could make an impact, while also continuing to build my expertise in operations and innovation. I’m luckily able to explore all of these areas, currently with an internship in venture capital. This summer, I have an internship in operations for a winery where I plan to focus in innovation. Rice gives me the opportunities to explore my interests through strong VC ties; the Ignite Trek, courses such as New Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Strategy; programming through the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and the networks of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. By joining clubs such as Entrepreneurship Association and Private Equity & Venture Capital Club, I also learn, grow and recruit with my peers. I appreciate learning about startup culture, having opportunities to get funding for an entrepreneurial endeavor and learning about new ventures!

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rice Business? Being a Rice Board Fellow for Girl Scouts of San Jacinto has been one of my most enjoyed experiences thus far. Volunteerism is extremely important to me and, in leaving the non-profit sector to pivot my career, it was essential that I continue to give back and have a life of impact.

Girl Scouts has given so much to me – I grew up in this organization. I quote several of the principles I learned in Girl Scouts as core values such as use your resources wisely, make new friends but keep the old, and leave spaces better than you found them. I am passionate about the empowerment of women and girls and impacting marginalized communities by creating more access and opportunity. As a Board Fellow, I get to help make decisions that provide opportunities for girls in STEAM education, growing leadership and entrepreneurship skills, and encouraging healthy whole-body practices from mental health and self-esteem to healthy eating. I love helping to transform the way that girls see their world and their place in the world. For me, there is no greater opportunity than to change a girl’s life because she will change her community and the world.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I worked for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a fundraiser, one of my most fulfilling projects that I led was a Dream Home Campaign. When I started working on this campaign, it had never sold out of its tickets early. When I took over the campaign, we sold out early for four straight years, and continued to do so each year earlier-and-earlier. I increased the ticket sales by nearly 20% in that time raising ~$3 million for the children of St. Jude. During those years, I transformed the campaign to virtual and then hybrid due to COVID while still managing to retain 90% of my sponsors year-to-year. This was a project that was challenging, exciting and meaningful. It grew me as a fundraiser, communicator, problem-solver and so much more. It’s work that I will never forget.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? We care about DEI at Rice Business. I am committed to DEI advocacy and intend to always use my voice in the service of others. I am a Forté Fellow and Consortium Fellow. Rice Business is a member school of the Consortium. I introduced our keynote speaker for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference. I try my best to practice what I preach.

My biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far was to be able to contribute positively to our collective growth. There is always work to be done because we are human. We make mistakes. We don’t see our own biases. When we have critical conversations, we are willing to do the work. I am proud of my courage to speak up early on to a person of authority about a behavior that could easily be adjusted for inclusivity that was uncomfortable for a number of students. I’m even more proud though of how that person took the feedback and adjusted. It showed me that they were willing to do the work to make this campus more inclusive too, and that made me proud of my choice to become a Rice Owl.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? I think my favorite memory thus far is of the night that our Global Field Experience locations were revealed. We had the most amazing event highlighting foods and wine from all over Latin America as we will be going to Argentina, Colombia and Peru. Travel is an extremely important part of my life and working abroad is something I plan to continue to do in my career, so this was a reveal I had been waiting for with bated breath. The food was incredible, but what mattered was we started to imagine traveling and growing together, making a significant impact for global companies. As an avid traveler who genuinely cares about the impact I make on this world, it was incredibly exciting for me. It transformed the way I think of my peers and put them in a new light for me. It just clicked that these are my future colleagues, and we are going to grow together and then change the world side-by-side.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rice Business MBA program? I would advise prospective students to take time to truly reflect on why you want your MBA, and what you hope to get out of your MBA experience. Then, be authentic and transparent about it in every part of your applications. Each year, Rice Business is trying to create a diverse class of exceptional students who are harmonious but also challenge and complement one another. Faking who you are doesn’t help anyone and can ruin your experience, so show up as your full self because that’s who we hope you will bring to campus.


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