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Madeline Brooks (MBA & MSW 2020)

Madeline Brooks will graduate after studying business and social work

Madeline Brooks came to the University of Denver with a plan.

In three years, she would earn a dual master’s degree and fulfill her dream of opening her own clinical practice for children. An MSW from the Graduate School of Social Work would enhance her credentials, while an MBA from the Daniels College of Business might help her manage the enterprise.

“I was going to go to school, leave school and do this thing,” says Brooks, who is poised to graduate in June. “And instead, I’ve gone to school, and I’m leaving school thinking there are so many things I’m interested in pursuing now.”

The path seemed straight and narrow at first. Year one on campus centered around social work, her focus set on helping individuals on an interpersonal level.

But in her second year, taking classes exclusively at the Daniels College, things began to shift. By the end, the aperture of her career goals had expanded into a panorama of possibilities.

“The business school really opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities and roles out there that I had no idea existed,” Brooks says. “Corporate social responsibility roles, foundations, talent management and grant work were things I hadn’t really considered. None of those things [was] even remotely on my radar.”

All the while, Brooks felt her perspective changing. As she floated between business and social work classes in her final year, she relished the opportunity to bring a social worker’s point of view to the corporate classroom, and vice versa.

She recalls a discussion on privacy in a business course where she reminded her classmates that reading and understanding a user agreement isn’t so easy for the significant portion of the U.S. population that can’t read above an eighth-grade level. In a likeminded social work classroom, she realized, no one would have challenged her argument.

“Whether it’s clinical work or business work, learning how to hear someone else and understanding that you have different perspectives is valuable,” Brooks says. “The goal of a graduate degree should be to learn your discipline and then learn to communicate your discipline to people who are the opposite of your discipline. That, to me, is one of the more valuable pieces I’ve learned.”

Brooks realizes she is graduating into a strange environment. The coronavirus pandemic has injected uncertainty into the job market. Yet Brooks says she finds comfort in the breadth of her DU education, which has equipped her with the tools to take on a multitude of situations.

She envisions herself working in a position centered on corporate social responsibility, perhaps in a community outreach role. Or maybe, she says, she would enjoy a job allocating funds and supporting community needs for a foundation. The newfound spectrum of possibilities excites her.

“I didn’t come into this program anticipating loving certain aspects of business,” she says. “[But] I’ve found that doing larger, community-level work and leveraging businesses to give back in communities is really what I want to be doing. And I definitely would not have gone [that route] had I not done the dual degree.”

Please visit DU’s COVID-19 website and subscribe to @uofdenver Twitter for updates regarding COVID-19.

Please visit DU’s COVID-19 website and subscribe to @uofdenver Twitter for updates regarding COVID-19.