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Casablanca Capstone

Hannah Rauch ’19 Presents her Honors Research to a Conference in Morocco

Kristen Walsh

As a high school student, Hannah Rauch ’19 never imagined doing research in college — let alone presenting it in a country halfway across the world. But that’s what she did in presenting her Honors Program capstone research at the International Conference on Academic and Business Collaboration Across Borders in Casablanca, Morocco.

“I was sitting in my dorm room when I saw the email come across that my honors capstone project had been accepted to the conference,” she recalls of the note from her Honors Program adviser Jane Tchaicha, associate professor and chair of modern languages. “It was surreal. I had heard stories of people in honors programs who had presented research but in the back of my mind I didn’t think it would be me. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

At the conference, Rauch presented her research on the lack of women in business leadership roles in Francophone North Africa (the Maghreb), a society where women are not typically expected to work outside the home.

“No matter where you are in the world, the business industry is predominantly male-oriented,” says Rauch, who came up with the idea of studying the gender gap after brainstorming with Honors Program Director and Associate Professor of Spanish Christian Rubio. “He suggested finding a way to combine my Finance major and French minor, two very different disciplines. We also talked about my career as a woman in the field of finance and came up with the idea of studying female leaders in business.”

Read More About Honors Program Director Christian Rubio

Rauch’s research compared the Maghreb culture with that of France. “The two regions are linked through colonialization and the Maghreb still maintains some of its French roots, especially in education,” says Rauch. She says the presence of a traditional patriarchal society in the Maghreb affects the likelihood of a woman to pursue a career outside of the home and move into leadership positions.

Even though Rauch was the only undergraduate student at the conference in Morocco — among doctoral students and faculty members — her research sparked ideas for future initiatives including exploring how residents view feminism in different countries. A professor from the ESCA School of Management in Casablanca asked Rauch if she’d like to collaborate on research comparing male- and female-founded startup companies. “I met so many unique people with great ideas that sparked conversations I never would have otherwise had,” she recalls of networking at the conference.

“I was that person who thought doing research would be boring, until I found a topic I was passionate about,” says Rauch, who recently accepted a full-time job after graduation as part of Raytheon’s Financial Leadership Development Program.

Learn More About The Undergraduate Honors Program at Bentley

Though Rauch admits she was at first daunted by completing an honors capstone project, she says her perspective has changed. “The ‘high school me’ would never have imagined I would be where I am today, having these experiences. It’s important to not shy away from big opportunities; you have to take hold of them. I’ve gotten so much out of them and now I can’t imagine college without them.”