Dancing to a different tune, Pollak combines interests

Kristin Pollak always knew the value of a good education, instilled in her by the sacrifices that her parents made for her and her older sister.

By all accounts, she has not let them down.

In addition to earning bachelor's and master's degrees from the Olin School of Business, Kristin Pollak minored in modern dance in Arts & Sciences.
In addition to earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Olin School of Business, Kristin Pollak minored in modern dance in Arts & Sciences. “I needed a balance between the analytical and creative sides of my brain,” she says. “Dancing helps me to de-stress and create a better balance.”

Pollak will graduate today with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, with majors in accounting and marketing, and a minor in modern dance in Arts & Sciences — all in four years.

“I grew up in a middle-class home in Cleveland, and my family always had enough,” Pollak says. “But my parents made a lot of sacrifices to put my sister and me through private schools, for which I am grateful.

“When I was little, it was a little difficult to understand why my education was more important than that swimming pool I really, really wanted; but looking back, I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, a great suntan fades, but a great education lasts a lifetime.”

During the spring of her senior year of high school, Pollak received an invitation to the Olin School of Business’ Spotlight Weekend — one of its major student-recruiting events — and the University won her over.

Olin School of Business

“I remember I was so nervous when I pulled up in front of the business school for the weekend, but by the end of the weekend I was convinced that Washington University was where I wanted to be,” she says. But there was “just one little $26,000 problem,” she adds.

That’s where the Olin Scholars in Business program came in.

“The Scholars in Business program made it possible for me to come to Olin and receive a great education,” Pollak says. “It enabled me to take advantage of so many extracurricular activities. It gave me the opportunity to make so many friends.

“My sponsors, Jack and Jerre Minner, not only provided financial support for my education, but also welcomed me into their family. My life would literally not be the same if it weren’t for them.”

Pollak made good on her scholarship, and then some. Graduating with a grade-point average of 3.9, Pollak was on the Dean’s List every semester, in addition to serving as co-chair of the Olin Ambassadors and Senior Class Gift Committee, co-director of Olin Peer Advising, treasurer for the Catholic Student Center Student Council and a teaching assistant in financial accounting.

She also managed to find time to serve in the Olin School’s Weston Career Resources Center as a student assistant and complete work internships every summer, including a stint in auditing at the accounting firm KPMG LLP, where she has accepted a full-time position.

A good student throughout her life, Pollak excelled at mathematics but discovered that her “right brain” also craved attention. Studying tap, jazz and ballet since age 10, she continued her dance studies at the University to “keep balance in my life.”

“I realized in my second semester that I needed dance in my life,” she says. “I needed a balance between the analytical and creative sides of my brain.

“Dancing helps me to de-stress and create a better balance. Everybody thinks that business and dance is kind of a weird combination, but accountants have outside interests, too!”

Pollak worked on a research project with the Olin School’s J. Stuart Bunderson, Ph.D., associate professor of organizational behavior. They helped determine what factors enhanced team performance at the semiconductor firm Intel.

“Kristin exemplifies responsible student scholarship,” Bunderson says. “So many students are reactive and instrumental in their learning, doing only what is laid out for them with the goal of getting a grade, getting out and getting a job. Kristin doesn’t work that way.

“She takes responsibility for her own learning. She keeps her eye on the long-term goal of learning and mastery while completing — in stellar form — the necessary short-term requirements of academic life.”

Pollak plans to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam in the fall and is engaged to another recent Olin School graduate, Iliya Filev.

“Iliya proposed to me on the top of the Eiffel Tower,” she says. “My life is like a dream come true.”

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