When Discovery Meets Innovation and STEM
By Reilly LaPrairie '19
One of the College’s promises to students is discovery, and during their four years students make several discoveries that prepare them for life after Saint Mary’s. For Margaret Mraz '17 integrating lessons from both business and science classes helped her discover an interest in entrepreneurship, which she was then able to utilize at the University of Notre Dame.
The master’s program in entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation (ESTEEM) at Notre Dame combines business, engineering, and science into one graduate program.
Developing a company
Margaret and four of her ESTEEM classmates collaborated to create a business plan for a company called Toffee, which stands for test orchestration for the enterprise. Toffee is a software service company that helps businesses improve internal processes for testing their web applications. This software is a huge asset for companies looking to save both time and money in their early testing stages. The team entered Toffee into the McCloskey Business Plan Competition and made it to the semi-final rounds.
Many careers in the STEM field have traditionally been filled by men, but Margaret credits Saint Mary’s for building her own confidence as a woman entering this field. “The first two and a half years at Saint Mary’s I was pre-med, and I have always had an interest in healthcare. After I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue medical school, I was lost as to what I was going to do post-grad. With the help of chemistry professors, I discovered the ESTEEM program and knew it’d be a great fit for me.”
Fueling her passion
The smaller class sizes and relationships with her professors at Saint Mary's empowered Margaret, and doing graduate work at Notre Dame gave her a large school feeling she also enjoyed. “The teamwork skills that I learned in the classroom and laboratory as a chemistry major prepared me for all of the collaboration and group projects in the ESTEEM program.”
Margaret expressed her gratitude to those surrounding her during this competition. “I am so thankful for the support that I received from the Saint Mary’s community, professors, mentors, and friends.” She credits both schools for opening the door to amazing opportunities. Throughout the duration of her time as a student at both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, she found a community that helped lead her to a place of discovery.