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Pitt Business Grad Secures Prestigious Fulbright Grant

During her college years Lauren Mills (BSBA '15) was a world traveler. She completed mission work in Haiti, developed a community soccer program in Cameroon, and volunteered at children’s camps in both Vietnam and Madrid.

“Cameroon was incredible. The people were beautiful, so friendly. Everybody talked to everybody on the street. It would take an hour to get home because of all the conversation,” Mills recalls.

Mills decided a career in international business was for her.  At the University of Pittsburgh, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Global Management and Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Then, wanting to continue her international education, she successfully applied for a Fulbright grant to study in Madrid, Spain at the prestigious Instituto de Empresa, also known as IE business school. The grant she received is only offered to one student in the United States.

This fall, Mills will begin the 11-month Master’s in International Management program. The IE business school offers MBA, Executive MBA, master’s degree, and executive programs to students from more than 90 countries. In 2015, its MBA program was ranked No. 12 in the world by Financial Times.

“IE is a well-known school, it has such a diverse student body, and it’s a really interesting environment to be in,” Mills says.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Scholar Program is named after Sen. J. William Fulbright. His goal was to use surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” Each year, 1,900 grants are awarded to students across 140 countries. Alumni of the program include U.S. congressmen, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, teachers, and artists. Notable alumni of the Fulbright program include the composer Philip Glass, actor John Lithgow, and Bose founder Amar Bose.

Mills’ Fulbright grant provides for a tuition waiver, a monthly stipend, health benefits, and covers airfare to and from Spain. As part of her application, Mills had to apply for both the Fulbright award and admission into the IE program. Spanish citizens or Americans with dual citizenship in Spain were prohibited from applying.

While at Pitt, Mills was a stellar student-athlete. She was a swimmer on Pitt’s swimming and diving team, specializing in the split freestyle and butterfly strokes. In her senior year, she was elected co-captain by her teammates.  Participating in swimming meant getting up at 6 a.m. for practice and traveling around the country for swim meets, but it never slowed Mills down in the classroom.

Mills was part of the student-athlete  4.0 Club three times and earned the women’s swimming top academic award three years in a row. Additionally,  she previously received a Pitt Business Tafel Fellowship and a Pitt Honors College Scholarship.

Upon receiving her master’s degree, Mills plans to work in international business, where she will direct global community engagement projects. She says the IE Business School has a strong emphasis on social responsibility through such programs as the student-led Social Responsibility Forum, a two-day conference bringing together students and prominent speakers from around the world.

 “Much of my work and volunteering has been related to humanitarian projects. I have seen firsthand the ability of dedicated people to make a positive impact on the world. How much more of  a difference could organizations with large resources  make?” she says.

Mills, a native of Johnson City, Tenn., says her education at Pitt Business offered a gateway to the world.

“I chose to attend the University of Pittsburgh because of its globally focused undergraduate business program, its elite Division I swim team, and the opportunities it offered to connect with various cultures both within the city and abroad,” she says.