Alyssa Keith ’24 on Speaking Up and Running with Her Ideas

Alyssa Keith on the Babson campus

When Alyssa Keith ’24 was 7, she had a Hello Kitty notebook in which she would scribble entrepreneurial ideas. In the other room, the booming voice of Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money” would run through her childhood home. Along with it came some inspiration, this concept that business can help bring mere scribblings to fruition. 

As she grew up and progressed in school, playing sports, volunteering in the North Shore salt marshes, and becoming an award-winning student, the notebook stayed mostly closed. As she prepares to graduate, that little journal is suddenly top of mind. 

“I never really did anything with the ideas because I was always so focused on school,” Keith says. “I wish I just took something out of it and ran with it, but I was on an academic mission since I was in middle school.” 

That mission led her to Babson College, a place where she felt her professional goals and sense of self began to crystallize. Her proudest Babson accomplishments don’t feel tangible to her at first. They are the community she built with her fellow runners. It’s her growing passion for sustainability. And it’s finding her voice—her ability to verbally express herself and her thoughts.  

She says she used to hide behind her keyboard and creative writing, not relying on her physical voice to communicate, almost like she watched The Little Mermaid in reverse. Now, she feels it’s more powerful than ever. 

“I have so many ideas but I never knew how to get them out,” Keith says. “I’ve created a way to really hone in on who I am and how I want to convey that. You do a lot of elevator pitches here, so you pitch yourself a lot. It made me think about myself, and I’ve created an identity through that.” 

Keith, who will give the student address at the 2024 Babson Undergraduate Commencement ceremony May 11, is ready for that voice to come out of hiding. 

Running on Her Own Path 

People familiar with the Brook Path near campus have maybe seen Keith on a run. A Babson track & field and cross-country athlete, she’s usually running while blasting country music or with her teammates.  

Originally drawn to the pavement because she liked the self-competitive nature of running, at Babson, she found it to be a self-reflective time, as well as one of the best ways to make friends on campus. She cites coaches Russ Brennan and Brent Sitarski as support figures, helping her navigate injuries and find her identity beyond student-athlete. 

“I’ve always been a big outdoors person, so long-distance running just got me into the woods longer,” Keith says “With other sports, there’s a lot of noise and whistles, but with running, you’re able to just be with yourself for a while. I’ve never really felt in the same head space as I have on some of those best runs. It’s helped me get through a lot of my more challenging days.”

Crafting an identity beyond schoolwork and her self-proclaimed pursuit of “tedious perfection” brought her to more than the Wellesley woods. She is a resident assistant (RA), and both a Presidential Scholar and Frank & Eileen™ Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (F&E CWEL) Scholar. Those activities gave her a sense of community and support. 

“I have so many ideas but I never knew how to get them out. I’ve created a way to really hone in on who I am and how I want to convey that.” Alyssa Keith '24

F&E CWEL events especially, such as sessions with Precious L. Williams, owner of the Perfect Pitch Group, helped Keith see the ways she could express herself and get over her fear of speaking imperfectly, especially as a woman in business.  

“Women are seen as not having a lot of important things to say about business,” Keith says. “During a session, I remember hearing how we give up a lot of that power because we don’t think we will say the right things. It taught me that I shouldn’t be afraid to speak up because I do have a lot to say.” 

Speaking Up for Sustainability  

Alyssa Keith ’24 (Photo: Nic Czarnecki)

What Keith is passionate about using her voice for is sustainability. Growing up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, she spent a summer pulling the invasive species pepperweed from the local salt marsh Great Marsh (“I had waders up to me knees”) as well as upcycling furniture. During another F&W CWEL event, she met someone who worked in impact investing. Like the ideas in her notebook, she took note of that career path but continued to focus on her studies. 

But once she took the class Financing and Valuing Sustainability, she became obsessed with the intersection of business and sustainability. 

“I would meet with professors on the weekends, talking about purchase agreements and water efficiency over coffee,” she says. “I was researching environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing and realized there was a path for me focused on investing and sustainability.” 

Last summer, she interned for Polen Capital, an investment management firm, as an ESG investment researcher in Boca Raton, Florida. After graduation, she will return to the company full time. As one of the first members of their sustainability team, she calls it a dream job.  

The lifelong Massachusetts resident is ready for the change in location. As for the recovering perfectionist, she’s more than ready to find out what’s next. 

“I had that notebook with all those ideas in it, but I’m excited to have free time and use this voice for myself to take one of them and actually run with it,” Keith says. “I have all these labels, and I’m so thankful for them, but it’s time to see what I can do independent of focusing so much on school and getting good grades.”  

Maybe she will crack open that old notebook in the Florida sunshine. 

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