Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Rachel McLaughlin


Rachel McLaughlin

When I entered Duke in 2004, the Baldwin Scholars program was a new experiment. Today that experiment is a successful Duke institution that both changes the lives of its members and alters campus dialogue. Through the Baldwin Scholars program, Duke demonstrates its commitment to developing confident women leaders.

I came to Duke from Missouri thanks to a generous financial aid package. My involvement with the Baldwin Scholars program helped me to embrace a college experience that was initially outside my comfort zone. The program accomplished this through one-on-one mentoring, monthly check-ins, custom seminars, and its assemblage of women on a similar journey.

As an inaugural member, I had the privilege of serving twice as the program's Presiding Officer. This meant working with my peers to develop a constitution and a governance structure. My favorite experiences outside of Baldwin involved leading the Sanford School of Public Policy's Majors Union and serving on the Sanford Board; writing a senior honors thesis; teaching a Baldwin sponsored house course; studying abroad in Barcelona; and writing a biweekly column for the Chronicle. During my interview for my job at SunEdison, the hiring manager asked me to defend the arguments I made in these columns. I now know that the Internet remembers everything -- including the convictions I held at 20.

After graduating from Duke I moved to Malang, Indonesia on a Fulbright Fellowship. I taught 400 12th grade students and served my country as a U.S. cultural ambassador. When I returned to the U.S. I sought a career in an industry at the intersection of the public and private spheres. I discovered energy and began working for SunEdison, a global leader in the development, finance, operation, and maintenance of solar assets.

Today I’m an energy professional with deep expertise in distributed generation, including solar and fuel cell project development. I’ve held a variety of roles in business development and sales. In my current role I develop solar programs for large, global companies.

Outside of work, I sing alto in a local singing group, volunteer with College Summit, explore the outdoors, and host a monthly forum where women I know get together to have honest conversations about their career development and professional and personal challenges.

My future goals include traveling the world with my partner Mike, leading a team, leading or starting a company, writing a book, and positively influencing public policy as a thought leader or elected official.