The Richmond MBA prides itself on the diverse backgrounds of the talented students who enroll in the program year after year.  Incoming MBA student Laura Beauchesne is one such capable enrollee whose resume includes time spent abroad researching and implementing sustainable water treatment technologies.   
Beauchesne, who is currently a process engineer at the Bear Island Paper Company of White Birch Paper in Ashland, Virginia, made her first trip to the Limpopo Province of South Africa to study water treatment technologies in 2007.  While in South Africa, she completed research on the presence of cholera in river bodies where women collected drinking water or washed clothing for their families.
Although her cholera research was unsuccessful, she did discover e coli bacteria and chloroforms in the water stream that had been deposited from animal and human waste. 
“[As a result of my findings] we worked on educating the community more on using resources more appropriately and the importance of keeping animals away from the streams.”
Beauchesne, who was a University of Virginia engineering student at the time, said that the school partnered with the University of Venda, which provided translators between the English-speaking students and South African residents.  
“We made visual diagrams and laminated copies and showed the [residents] what to do,” she said.  She also visited town hall meetings outside of the village chief’s home, where she learned about an issue they were having with crop fires.
“There were people from Zimbabwe living up near the river who accidentally caught someone’s crop field on fire, and food was destroyed for a year,” said.  “The issue then became, do you report people in the woods to the proper authorities, or do you risk more crop fields?  It was interesting to see what the community was concerned about in that moment in time and for their long-term goals.”
She was also instrumental in wiring the village’s school (whose main use was as a household skills training facility for women) for electricity.  In terms of her water research, nothing was specifically implemented in the eight weeks she was in South Africa.  A subsequent trip, this one to Saltadere, Haiti in 2009, produced a different result.
“That was a very different trip, because I was the only engineer on the trip. The rest of the students were actually there through a Catholic church in Charlottesville that had adopted several churches in Haiti,” she said.  
In the past, there had been problems with the drinking water in Saltadere, and a priest in the town (who was the group’s main point of contact) vocalized concerns that they were deriving from bleach in the water, according to her.
“I collected water samples from Haiti and had them tested for different types of bacteria that commonly occur in water,” she said.  “They had dug PVC pipes underground that fed into town, and somewhere along the way the pipes were getting contaminated.”
After testing the water, Beauchesne addressed the amount of bleach that was being added to the water and made the recommendation to add bleach at intervals along the water stream’s way to the town, not just when the stream arrived at the town.
In both South Africa and Haiti, she was struck by the appreciation that the residents had for the research she was completing on their water sources.  “Everyone was very grateful and appreciative of us taking an interest in how they lived in order to make things easier,” she said.
Since her water treatment research projects, Beauchesne has taken on a full-time role as a process engineer in which she manages several environmental projects related to the manufacturing of paper.  
Her increasing interest in project management prompted her to apply to The Richmond MBA program.
“I’d like to go into operations management but still stay in a technical field, and I believe having an MBA will help me break into that.”
As for starting classes this fall in The Richmond MBA program, Beauchesne can’t wait to dive right in.  “I’m ready for a new challenge and the opportunity that having an MBA degree will bring.”  
The Richmond MBA program looks forward to welcoming Beauchesne and rest of the talented Class of 2014 who represent diverse and unique backgrounds, and without whom our program would not continue to progress to new heights.

The Richmond MBA prides itself on the diverse backgrounds of the talented students who enroll in the program year after year.  Incoming MBA student Laura Beauchesne is one such capable enrollee whose resume includes time spent abroad researching and implementing sustainable water treatment technologies.   

Beauchesne, who is currently a process engineer at the Bear Island Paper Company of White Birch Paper in Ashland, Virginia, made her first trip to the Limpopo Province of South Africa to study water treatment technologies in 2007.  While in South Africa, she completed research on the presence of cholera in river bodies where women collected drinking water or washed clothing for their families.

Although her cholera research was unsuccessful, she did discover e coli bacteria and chloroforms in the water stream that had been deposited from animal and human waste. 

“[As a result of my findings] we worked on educating the community more on using resources more appropriately and the importance of keeping animals away from the streams.”

Beauchesne, who was a University of Virginia engineering student at the time, said that the school partnered with the University of Venda, which provided translators between the English-speaking students and South African residents.  

“We made visual diagrams and laminated copies and showed the [residents] what to do,” she said.  She also visited town hall meetings outside of the village chief’s home, where she learned about an issue they were having with crop fires.

“There were people from Zimbabwe living up near the river who accidentally caught someone’s crop field on fire, and food was destroyed for a year,” said.  “The issue then became, do you report people in the woods to the proper authorities, or do you risk more crop fields?  It was interesting to see what the community was concerned about in that moment in time and for their long-term goals.”

She was also instrumental in wiring the village’s school (whose main use was as a household skills training facility for women) for electricity.  In terms of her water research, nothing was specifically implemented in the eight weeks she was in South Africa.  A subsequent trip, this one to Saltadere, Haiti in 2009, produced a different result.

“That was a very different trip, because I was the only engineer on the trip. The rest of the students were actually there through a Catholic church in Charlottesville that had adopted several churches in Haiti,” she said.  

In the past, there had been problems with the drinking water in Saltadere, and a priest in the town (who was the group’s main point of contact) vocalized concerns that they were deriving from bleach in the water, according to her.

“I collected water samples from Haiti and had them tested for different types of bacteria that commonly occur in water,” she said.  “They had dug PVC pipes underground that fed into town, and somewhere along the way the pipes were getting contaminated.”

After testing the water, Beauchesne addressed the amount of bleach that was being added to the water and made the recommendation to add bleach at intervals along the water stream’s way to the town, not just when the stream arrived at the town.

In both South Africa and Haiti, she was struck by the appreciation that the residents had for the research she was completing on their water sources.  “Everyone was very grateful and appreciative of us taking an interest in how they lived in order to make things easier,” she said.

Since her water treatment research projects, Beauchesne has taken on a full-time role as a process engineer in which she manages several environmental projects related to the manufacturing of paper.  

Her increasing interest in project management prompted her to apply to The Richmond MBA program.

“I’d like to go into operations management but still stay in a technical field, and I believe having an MBA will help me break into that.”

As for starting classes this fall in The Richmond MBA program, Beauchesne can’t wait to dive right in.  “I’m ready for a new challenge and the opportunity that having an MBA degree will bring.”  

The Richmond MBA program looks forward to welcoming Beauchesne and rest of the talented Class of 2014 who represent diverse and unique backgrounds, and without whom our program would not continue to progress to new heights.