Quinn Fitzgerald ’07

* Full photo Caption: President Barack Obama has departure photos taken with Quinn Fitzgerald in the Oval Office, July 10, 2015. Quinn is pictured with her father, Trustee John Fitzgerald, her mother, Peggy St. Clair, and her sisters. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Bachelor of Arts Honors degree, magna cum laude, College of the Holy Cross ’11

Major: Self-designed multidisciplinary major in Peace and Conflict Studies and a minor in Latin American/ Latino Studies

Awarded the Presidential Service Award for demonstrating exceptional leadership and the Joseph J. Reilly Award for exemplifying the ideals of multiculturalism

M.B.A. Candidate ’17, Harvard Business School 

Tell me about your work experience.
Before enrolling at Harvard Business School, I served as the Assistant Director of the White House Business Council at the White House Office of Public Engagement. I developed and implemented strategies for increasing outreach efforts and relationship development with the private sector, including small-business owners and Fortune 500 CEOs, to further engage key national and international business leaders in direct dialogue with the White House and across Administration Agencies. I was also the Staff Assistant to Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and was a White House Intern for Young American and Native American Outreach. 

How did your education at Brimmer prepare you for the work you’ve done to date?
While at Brimmer, I was encouraged by my teachers to learn from a wide range
of cultures and to value diversity. This instinct to see the value of differences
lead me to develop a passion for social justice that I would carry with me to Holy Cross, to the White House, and now to Harvard Business School. At Holy Cross, I studied conflict resolution and was inspired by the Jesuit phrase “men and women for and with others.” If you had asked me in high school if I would ever attend business school, I would have said no. I thought that working at a for-profit company meant that I would have to give up on my desire to be a woman working for and with others. But my time on the White House Business Council showed me otherwise. I spent much of my time there working to create new public-private partnerships that supported initiatives around many different issues, including cybersecurity, working families, climate change, small-business growth, aid for Ebola, trade, healthy aging, and immigration. This work reinforced what I had learned at Brimmer—that the best way to create positive change is to foster collaboration across lines of diversity, specifically across different sectors. I have chosen to attend business school to build on my work at the White House and achieve a better understanding of how to bring the public and private sectors together and increase private-sector involvement in social impact initiatives. 

I am currently in my first semester at Harvard Business School (HBS) and taking courses in finance, leadership and organizational behavior, accounting, marketing, and technology and operations management. I am the proud “lionkeeper” or caretaker of my section mascot Jolly, an approximately 40-pound stuffed animal lion that has been passed down in Section J for 10 years. I take all of my classes with the 94 people in my section. HBS has a rich history and I am excited to have the opportunity to leverage all that it has to offer, from in-depth classroom discussion to learning from my fellow classmates. Like Brimmer, HBS understands the true value of diversity. Within my section, we represent over 30 different countries.

What are your fondest memories of your days at Brimmer?
Brimmer prepared me to succeed at Holy Cross and beyond not just because my teachers taught me how to write a good paper or how to do calculus, but because my teachers pushed me to become a thoughtful and contributing member of whatever community I am a part of. When I look back at my experiences at Brimmer, what sticks out the most to me is not the lab reports or the exams, but the relationship I was able to develop with my teachers. My teachers believed in me and wanted me to become the best version of myself. They not only gave me the tools I needed to succeed in college, but they taught me how to embrace my passions, treat others with respect, and celebrate our differences. At Brimmer, I learned how to step outside my comfort zone, how to challenge myself to be a better person, and how to love the pursuit of knowledge.

What sets Brimmer apart is that it is a true community. I did not just learn from my teachers and my fellow students, but I learned from each and every member of the community. I developed relationships with the Administration staff and with the cooks. My fondest memories from Brimmer are flapping around onstage as a fish out of water during the fall play my senior year, rowing across the finish line in a dragon boat on the Charles River, snorkeling in Belize and playing with children in Nicaragua during my Winterim trips, going to get Anna’s for lunch during an all-day musical rehearsal, singing in our first-ever choir competition, and learning how to blow things up in science class. Brimmer instilled in me a deep passion for exploring different cultures and world perspectives and inspired me to believe that I could make a difference.

What activities did you participate in at Brimmer?
I played Varsity Soccer and was a Lacrosse goalie, was a member of Greenline, was a two-year Varsity Basketball player, participated in every play since seventh grade,
was in two Middle School and three Upper School musicals, was part of the Diversity Committee starting in seventh grade, was on the J Board, and participated in dragon boat racing. What I loved about Brimmer’s activities was that I did not have to decide between sports and arts. The way activities were scheduled at many other schools in the area made it impossible for students to participate in a play and a sport at the same time. Brimmer did not make me choose between my passions. Instead, faculty and staff encouraged me to explore my many differing interests and to find ways to draw connections between things that often seemed unrelated.
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