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Adventure Calls

May 23, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Muriel Wacker loves the excitement of a new adventure.

It’s part of what brought the Zurich, Switzerland, native to the United States and Georgia Tech in the first place.

“I like to go visit new places,” she said after a recent practice session at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex. “It was kind of a big risk when I came here to the States without knowing anyone my freshman year. So I’m pretty open to moving just because I’ve done it before and I feel like I’m good at making new friends and feeling at home wherever I am.”

For four years, Wacker made herself at home at Georgia Tech and increasingly became a bigger and bigger part of the Women’s Tennis Team.

“I definitely enjoyed the last two years because I played singles and doubles and before I didn’t really,” she said. “It was a lot of fun for me the last two years where I could really contribute to the success of the team.”

She saved her best for last. The only senior on the team in 2013-14, she was named team captain, and contributed maturity and leadership. She embraced the role, and kind of got a kick out of being the elder statesman.

“I think [sophomore] Megan [Kurey] is the second-oldest and I’m two-and-a-half years older than her. They were joking about me being the grandma of the team,” she said, with a laugh. “I obviously felt I needed to be a leader out there and do the right things because they were looking to me, what I’m doing. But once we were out there I didn’t really feel like `I’m the mother’ or anything. We were just one team and one unit fighting for the same thing.”

Wacker proved quite the knockout artist. Playing at No. 6, she supplied the coup de grâce for Tech in three different matches, with perhaps the sweetest of them all coming April 19, Senior Day, against National No. 1 Duke, at the Byers Complex.

“It was just an awesome day,” she remembered. “I mean the No. 1 team and Duke is always very hard to play, but we just came out so strong and the way it finished, obviously, it was perfect for me on Senior Day to clinch the match.”

As a senior, Wacker went 23-10 in singles play (18-6 in dual matches, a team-best 12-2 in ACC play), 19-13, (12-10, 6-6) in doubles during the spring and was exceptional down the stretch. She won 11 of her final 12 matches and went a perfect 4-0 in postseason, including recording the Yellow Jackets’ lone point in the second round of the ACCs against No. 7 Virginia.

Her tennis days may be over but her thirst for adventure is not.

Her next adventure will take place this summer, when she performs a two-month internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP in Boston.

“I’m going to do management strategy consulting,” said Wacker, an Industrial Engineering major, with a concentration in Finance and Economics. “I’m excited to see a new city. It’s going to be challenging but it’s a great opportunity.

“I’m probably going to work in financial services but I have a concentration in Finance and Econ, within Industrial Engineering, so it works well,” she added. “I’ve been really interested in the consulting world. So I’m excited.”

The excitement of starting the internship is comparable to the excitement of simply getting it.

She did her first interview during an off-day, but the second interview was scheduled for Feb. 28, the same day as the Yellow Jackets were scheduled to face No. 34 Florida State, in Tallahassee.

It was at this point that head coach Rodney Harmon and assistant coach Alison Silverio offered a helping hand, one for which Wacker is eternally grateful.

“I have to thank my coaches, Rodney and Ally, because they were really flexible,” she said. “We were at FSU. So while the team was practicing in the morning, they let me do the 2 ½-hour interview over Skype. Then I joined the team in the afternoon. I have to thank them that they let me do the interview, otherwise that opportunity would have slipped and I couldn’t have done it.”

Wacker paid back her coaches back by winning her singles match to even the proceedings at 2-2. It would be the first of four straight singles wins for the Jackets, who upended the Seminoles, 5-2.

“I won my singles match. I think we lost doubles,” she said. “(Wacker and Natasha Prokhnevska lost, 5-7). “We won that day, so it was good.”

Wacker is looking forward to more good days in Boston this summer.

PwC has offices in 34 states as well as the District of Columbia, and while she was recruited by the Atlanta office there was no openings available. So it was off to Boston, one of the cities on her short list. (Coincidentally, she passed on the Chicago office, where she might have felt right at home, as the address is One North Wacker.).

Wacker graduates in December and until then is keeping her options open.

“I definitely want to stay here in the States for the first couple of years and then kind of take it year by year,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity right now but, at the same time, my family is back home. So I don’t know. Maybe, eventually, I’ll go back to Europe but I pretty much could go anywhere right now.

“I can definitely see myself living somewhere like New York or Boston but, at the same time, I have a lot of friends here now,” she added. “So I kind of just leave it up to whatever offers I get and then I’ll decide on whatever is the best opportunity.”

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