Meet the MBA Class of 2024: DaFene Brown, Washington University (Olin)

DaFene Brown

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Former-ESL educator, passionate about finding innovative ways to deliver high-impact results through human connection.”

Hometown: Albany, Georgia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I won an inter-gym Muay Thai match while living in Jeju, South Korea.

Undergraduate School and Major: Albany State University – B.A. Political Science; Florida A&M University – M.S. Political Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: English Program in Korea (EPIK), Jungmun Elementary School, Native English Assistant Teacher

What has been your favorite part of St. Louis so far? What makes St. Louis such a great place to earn an MBA? St. Louis has many thriving neighborhoods with unique vibes, like Central West End, Soulard, and Dutch Town. Exploring the culture in these areas with my friends has been my favorite part of St. Louis. The city cultivates a close-knit community where there is always something to do. In addition, the cost of living is low compared to other large metropolitan cities. Lastly, the startup community is bustling with funding and collaboration spaces for aspiring entrepreneurs.

You completed your global immersion earlier this year. What was the best part of the immersion experience for you? What was the biggest takeaway you gained? The best part of global immersion was visiting four cities on three continents. I learned about U.S. domestic and foreign policies affecting businesses in Washington, D.C.; consulted for businesses in St. Louis looking to expand into Barcelona; completed a cultural immersion break in Paris; and studied the supply chain environment of startups in Santiago. My biggest takeaway was understanding the unique struggles that policies and cultures play when companies move to operate when expanding abroad from their home country.

Aside from your immersion and classmates, what was the key part of Washington Olin’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Olin boasts one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the U.S. at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The MBA Entrepreneurship track features courses on acquisition entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, The League, and The Hatchery. The school also offers seminars hosted by Olin alums that have created their own startups in healthcare, consumer goods and even acquisitions. Furthermore, the Skandalaris Center promotes creativity and provides support throughout every stage of the business, including seed funding, pitch competitions and exits.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Washington Olin? I’m a member of several clubs, including the Olin Marketing Association, Olin Technology Club, Olin Black MBA Association and Olin Africa Business Club (OABC). Recently, I attended the OABC Thanksgiving event that was African-themed and featured cuisine from around the continent, from Ghana to Kenya. It was a fantastic event filled with music and dances that I had never heard of or seen before, but I was ready and willing to participate. As an African American with heritage in both Haiti and Jamaica, I love being around people who look like me, exchanging culture and bridging that gap between members of the diaspora and our kin across the Atlantic.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I taught on Jeju Island, I was recommended to teach faculty English after school through the Jeju International Education Center after working in the Provisional Office of Education for over a year. It was an accomplishment to be recommended to teach teachers from across the island beginner and intermediate-level English with cultural conversation exercises sprinkled throughout.

Describe your biggest achievement in the MBA program so far: Marketing Management has been my favorite core class since starting my fall semester. Even though I was passionate about marketing, I wasn’t hitting the marks on some of my assignments by being too broad or not providing a clear enough argument. After my third marketing case, I decided to join concepts from my strategy class when approaching the assignment. I focused on my recommendations and found significant facts to support my claims. I received a 9/10, and though it was not a perfect score, this accomplishment solidified why I loved the creativity achieved in marketing affords.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Logic has a song titled “The Incredible True Story.” Aside from the beat, rhythm and flow, I love the song. It shares a story about self-expression and pursuing your dreams despite setbacks and critics. At the song’s end, a sample of Alan Watts’ “What If Money Was No Object?” plays. I immediately became a fan of this excerpt when I heard it. The poem speaks volumes about what prospective MBAs should consider before pursuing an MBA.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into WashU Olin’s MBA program? Be yourself. It may sound cliché, but be very intentional about the future you plan to create for yourself and how you plan to execute it at Olin and beyond. Attend events, whether it be in-person or virtual. Reach out to current students, arrange coffee chats and get insider perspectives. Have one final look over your application, then hit submit.


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