Nov 2016

Meet the LGBT MBA Fellows: Jeroune Rhodes

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The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free lifetime access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBT mentors, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.

This fall Reaching Out welcomed the second class of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellows. These 44 fellows come from 30 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.

35 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2016-2017 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.

MEET JEROUNE RHODES (Duke University, Fuqua School of Business)

I was born and raised by my mom in Minden, Louisiana, a small town in northwest corner of the state. As an educator, my mom instilled upon me the importance of education and hard work at an early age. I excelled academically in high school and after graduation, I moved to Houston, Texas to attend Rice University and studied mechanical engineering. Growing up, I unintentionally broke almost everything I touched. I credit these misfortunes with igniting my curiosity with how things worked, which ultimately led me to pursue a degree in engineering.  After college, I took an engineering position with Shell Oil Company at the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery (PAR). In my role, I provided machinery technical support to my production facility and used my expertise to optimize maintenance spending, improve asset reliability, and eliminate failure mechanisms. After two years, I departed and took a similar position within The Dow Chemical Company. As a maintenance and reliability engineer at Dow, I had technical responsibility for all fixed and rotating equipment within two specialty chemical plants.  Outside of my professional career, I enjoy learning, traveling, and staying active physically and within the community. I grew up watching and playing competitive tennis and continue to play leisurely. I also play softball and use CrossFit for strength and conditioning training. As an active member of the community outreach committee in the Houston Area Urban League Young Professionals group, I have participated in countless volunteer events that have positively impacted the area.

What made you consider business school?
As I continued to gain knowledge and experience in industry, I observed that my career options were becoming more and more confined within the technical realm. After five years as an engineer in the manufacturing sector, I realized that I did not want to pursue a purely technical career path. Business school was the perfect option for me because I knew that it would provide me with the tools, resources, and foundation to make a successful, fluid career switch.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
I am most excited about meeting, learning from, and sharing experiences with my fellow classmates.

Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?
Barbara Jordan, Elon Musk, Bayard Rustin, Sheryl Sandberg, Barack Obama.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
Coming from Louisiana, I live to eat good food. Cajun food is by far my most favorite, followed by Tex-Mex.

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