WashU Saved My Life, My Career and a potentially disastrous Pandemic Poop!
byJaimee Hall
August 23, 2021
Imperfect Human

The title of this blog isn’t fake news aimed at getting you to read it because your attention was captured by the words “pandemic poop”. I actually had a serious situation during the pandemic where I was driving and had such an intense need to use the restroom that I was worried I might have to clean-up my car from human defecation which I was not looking forward to. My stomach was cramping and hurting and with most businesses being shut down and out of reach, I felt desperate and didn’t know what to do. All of sudden I realized I was down the street from Olin School of Business and The Knight Center and I realized that my student ID might just scan me into the building that I had spent 2 years of my life at and I knew the exact closest bathroom inside the doors.

I began the Executive MBA program at Washington University in St. Louis in April of 2018. I was in a career transition after having been fired from a job I was at for 6 years and had given my blood, sweat and heart to. I was dealing with some lingering professional traumatic stress and trying to figure out my next step for my career. It was also when the Legal Back Office model was being built out for consideration. I had my fourth baby just 9 months before starting the program, had just purchased a new home and my husband was working part-time. I was lost professionally. I could bury myself in a large organization and make good money. I could try and find something in a smaller company and have a reasonable salary but have to live on less income. I could relocate my family for an executive position elsewhere. I could become an entrepreneur and start a company where I might get paid nothing for who knows how long. We all know now what I chose, but starting LBO during the program helped invest my MBA knowledge into something that I was building for my own legacy and not for someone else’s.

Not being able to pay myself or a couple of years meant I had to be financially resourceful in order to accomplish everything I needed to. I needed to fund the MBA program, continue to pay my mortgage and living expenses and all do so somehow without getting paid for a couple of years. Challenge accepted!!

WashU gave me the knowledge I needed to set-up my company on a good foundation. My student loans helped me fund my mortgage for two years giving me time to grow the business. I was able to get advice from brilliant professors about my business real-time as I was experiencing challenges. Clearly the curriculum is outstanding as the school is so highly ranked amongst business school in the U.S., but the curriculum only saved my career.

As I was able to use the program to launch Legal Back Office, my soul was still a bit of a mess. Overcoming professional trauma is no joke. I had also allowed myself, as a person, to get so far away from who I truly was that I didn’t recognize me anymore. I have never been a “behind the scenes”, low-key or intimidated individual. I have always lived my life out loud, have been tenacious and have always respectfully spoken my mind. I lost myself somewhere along the way. I also hadn’t been around so many other people and professionals that were willing to accept me for who I was, even with my flaws. Being engrossed in conservative Christian America as a pastor’s wife I found myself constantly seeking perfection, only showing others the version of myself they wanted and I started lying to people just to uphold those many different images. It was exhausting!

As I went through the program and heard others’ stories of growth, regret, triumph and personal gain and loss…I started to open back up. Slowly my walls of protection started to come down and I started to stand out again. I found myself being a better friend and mother and seeing more clearly the woman God made me to be.

One of the traditions of the program is to end the last class with every student sharing what the program has meant to them. I had to go last because I was so emotional and had to form the right words to adequately convey how it changed my life. Many people start an educational program to learn something that will add value to their lives professionally or personally. This is why I initially enrolled. What I didn’t expect was how this investment in myself was where I would truly find the real me again. I was lost professionally, but also lost personally. WashU saved my life from continuing down a path of discontentment, resentment and a fake existence.

It also saved me on a cold day last winter when I thought I was going to shit my pants. I pulled up to illegally park, threw on my hazards and prayed my ID would legally break me into The Knight Center. Swipe one, nothing…swipe two, nothing…swipe three, success!!! Why is the third time always the charm?!?!

Thank you WashU for saving my life, my career and my pride from what could have been a disaster to clean-up. I’m an #imperfecthuman that has figured out how to live again and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

2 Comments

  1. Bart Day

    Love it. Many from EMBA 52 lived, loved, and learned alongside and from you.

    Reply
    • Jaimee Hall

      Thanks Bart!

      Reply

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