IB Business “Made My Freshman Year So Much Easier”: Q&A with Alumna Hallie Peplow

Hallie Peplow, Newport Harbor High School Class of 2019, is a student remembered for her kind heart, strong work ethic and admirable leadership qualities. As a former member of the DECA Business Club, as well as a two-year student of the IB Business class, Hallie was able to continue her studies at the renowned McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. As a sophomore living at home during the pandemic, Hallie has been working hard to keep her school life on track for her future. She spoke with the Beacon’s Peyton Post about how her time at Newport Harbor shaped her into a successful business student, and how that will carry on into her professional career.

PP: What school do you attend? Have you declared a major yet?

HP: I attend the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2023. Currently, I am pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration, but my specific major is Undecided.

PP: What initially gave you an interest in taking IB Business at Newport Harbor?

HP: I honestly took the course because my oldest sister had majored in Business at USC, and from what I heard it sounded really interesting. I took IB Business with Mrs. Hirst and got involved in DECA, which is the business competition team associated with the IB Business course. I really started to become interested in business when we went to the case competitions for DECA, and I would always do the marketing event, which sparked my interest in both marketing and the variety of the world of business. 

PP: Did you always know you wanted to pursue business, or was there a time when you had a different career path in mind?

HP: I never knew what I wanted to do before then, and was open to different options, but I decided to take the Business class to see if it was something I enjoyed, and that really solidified my decision. If I didn’t take IB Business at Harbor, I don’t think I would have majored in it in college. 

PP: Do you have any specific skills gained from DECA and IB Business that you’ve carried with you into such a competitive environment in college?

HP: The biggest skill I took away from business in high school was competing in the DECA case competitions because I actually competed in a similar competition for UT, called the Women’s Business Case Competition. It was incredibly similar to the format of the DECA competitions. Essentially, the judges give you a case, and you have three days to come up with a solution, which then gets presented to five business professionals. DECA really prepared me to come up with a solution and deliver it in an appropriate way. 

PP: Having a year and a half under your belt at McCombs, do you see any similarities in terms of the coursework in college and the coursework from high school?

HP: There were a lot of terms thrown around in high school that I came to college with a good understanding of that many people had to catch up to learn. One example would be a “SWOT Analysis,” which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, which is a way to sort of write out the pros and cons of a new business proposal. When I started taking the more college-level specialized business classes, I saw a lot of those same terms in my work, which made my freshman year so much easier.

PP: Since you had that entry-level knowledge coming into school, what advantages would you say you might have over your classmates who didn’t have the opportunity to take IB Business or participate in DECA?

HP: The biggest advantage that I had over my classmates was that I was much more at ease when speaking and networking with business professionals in college. Before learning the proper etiquette, I would get really nervous if I was talking to someone who was much more educated than me, but learning the correct manners such as shaking their hand, eye contact, waiting for them to sit down before yourself, etc., really helped me when going to events at the business school. My advantages were much more on how I was able to conduct myself rather than the actual curriculum. 

PP: Finally, do you have any specific goals that you have mapped out for your life after graduation?

HP: Right now, I am working to declare Accounting as my major. Accounting for me right now has much more of a concrete pathway. For Accounting at UT, I would declare my major, and then apply for the MPA Program, where I would get my Masters in Accounting, as well as my CPA, which takes five years to complete. It’s more of an accelerated route to complete my masters. After that, I would hope to work in an accounting firm.