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Senior Profile: Shelby Wailes, '17

Published: 3 months ago | 0 comments

Shelby Wailes ’17 chose to pursue Duke I&E’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate after spending the summer of 2015 learning about social entrepreneurship.

Wailes had participated in DukeEngage Detroit, a program offered jointly by DukeEngage and Duke I&E that allows students to have immersive service experiences in organizations that are using social innovation to tackle some of the city’s greatest challenges.

Wailes, a public policy major, worked at a nonprofit that summer and also had the chance to learn about other nonprofits in the area.

“I was very inspired by the idea of social entrepreneurship, and I wanted to pursue it more at Duke,” she said.

When she got back to Duke, she started in on her classes for the certificate, which she said were instrumental in teaching her what innovation and entrepreneurship is.

When Wailes graduates in May, she will take a consulting job at McKinsey. She said she dreams of starting her own social venture one day.

She already has a broad range of experience from her internships, which she used to fulfill a 150-hour and a 300-hour experience requirement.

Wailes’ first internship, which she completed during DukeEngage Detroit, was at an energy accelerator called NextEnergy. There, she was able to work on case studies examining new energy efficient technologies, with the goal of making them more accessible to the public.

The next summer, she completed an internship that brought her into the healthcare space. She worked for a children’s hospital in Washington, D.C. helping to make pediatric medical devices become commercialized and more accessible.

Although the energy and health sectors are different in many ways, Wailes said, what brought her experiences together was the common theme of social entrepreneurship.

“I learned that both of these different places have a lot of potential for innovation, and a lot of good can come out of products that are commercialized in these industries,” she said.

In her public policy classes, Wailes learns about how the government works to provide resources and help society. Her classes in social entrepreneurship have supplemented that by showing her the change that can come from the private sector.

The certificate has also taught her broad skills, such as problem-solving.

“What I’ve learned is that innovation and entrepreneurship can be fit into anything you do,” she said. “It’s really giving you the tools to think about things in different ways and then how to go about implementing that change. What’s been most exciting for me, as someone with a lot of different passions in different things, is being able to get these tools to use innovation and entrepreneurship in a bunch of different fields.”

To learn more about Shelby’s experiences as an I&E Certificate student, watch this video.

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