Hilary Hauguel ’12

“At Franklin I learned to use my curiosity and critical thinking to find answers to my questions.”

Hilary Hauguel ’12 listens for a career. She listens to the consumer. She listens to product managers. And, she listens to numbers. In fact, “empathy” is the first core corporate value at Vera Bradley, where a “deep understanding” of the customer drives the product line and retail experiences.

Hilary HaugelFor this Franklin College applied math major now working for the luggage and handbag company, understanding numbers is relevant and inspiring, not boring or banal. Hauguel spends her days designing and analyzing experimental tests to determine whether new products, promotions and visual merchandising will be a hit with consumers. For her, maximizing information in order to meet consumer tastes is an exciting and ever-changing challenge.

“My role, as a financial analyst, doesn’t feel like a desk job. I like that every test is unique and creates new ideas. I am coordinating projects and working with different cross-functional groups. I am performing analyses, but while I am also actively communicating and leading. The role allows me to work with people.”

Hauguel works at Vera Bradley headquarters in Roanoke, Ind. “I am originally from Fort Wayne and learned about Franklin College from my older sister who attended a rival school. I was interested in that same small college atmosphere, but Franklin offered an admirable mathematics program. I clicked with the professors and was comfortable at the school from the start.”

“People can make or break an experience. From my education to getting a job to doing my job, I’ve learned that knowing people and accepting their guidance makes all the difference.”

Hauguel is motivated by her curiosity about people. As her mentors, associate professor of mathematics Justin Gash, Ph.D., and professor of English Dedaimia Whitney, now retired, encouraged her to take her inquisitive nature seriously, which resulted in an independent study project. “I had questioned how students might spend their time, according to their majors. The conversation I had with these professors pushed me to test the question. At Franklin I learned to use my curiosity and critical thinking to find answers to my questions.”

“When I graduated from Franklin, I thought I had to know everything about everything to get a job. Now I can look back and see that the most important thing is that you are willing and excited to learn.”

Hauguel minored in Spanish and felt stretched by classes outside her major. She attributes a writing class with associate professor of English Susan Crisafulli, Ph.D., to not only improving her ability to verbally communicate, but also teaching her to feel comfortable thinking critically and having to articulate even controversial ideas with others.

In her major, Hauguel cites several classes as vital and memorable, preparing her for a Master of Science in statistics at Miami University (Ohio) and, ultimately, her career.

“In the class of professor of mathematics Dan Callon, Ph.D., ’77, our project-based statistics consulting class researched and provided analysis for existing business problems. I liked that we provided real results for actual companies.”

Hauguel also learned how to provide analysis from start to finish in associate professor Hisaya Kitaoka’s econometrics class. “He taught us underlying methodology and, when we had completed the project, we presented to a colloquium. I learned how important it is to be able to clearly share your findings with others in a way that is interesting and persuasive.”

“Having to work hard – sometimes very hard – in my major was a later benefit. I struggled with introductory coding but that knowledge paved the way for graduate school coding requirements, and now I actually enjoy coding . I just had to learn to be patient with myself as I learned something new and unfamiliar.”

Like all Franklin students, Hauguel participated in engaged learning, completing an internship at a physicians group in Fort Wayne, Ind., in their finance department. “It was not a long internship, but I learned useful tools to help me better manipulate large datasets. I now use these tools daily.”

“I would tell students to aim for a good school-life balance and to try new things. It is important to learn what you are passionate about on many levels. Give your academic career your all but do not forget to nurture your personal life to the fullest.”

Hauguel was active in extracurricular organizations including her sorority, Panhellenic council and math and computing club. Her Spanish minor necessitated she take part in a play to bring the text to life, stretching her past her comfort zone. “I also worked in the Math Study Center and in the Write Place, helping other students learn. I learned that adapting the way I thought to accommodate diverse learning styles helped me think critically. ”

“I could not begin to compare my time at Franklin with a large university. The 1:1 connection I had with faculty at Franklin College was invaluable. These close relationships improved my personal and academic performance. Professors are there for students and will make sure they are fully prepared for graduate school and their career.”