Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Major: International Business
Extracurricular activities: The Bridge, Kappa Sigma, Rhodes Ambassadors, Financial Management Association, German Club, soccer
Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College:
I discovered Rhodes when I was recruited to play soccer. The school’s academic standing and connection with Memphis helped me decide to visit to determine what my college experience might be like here. Upon visiting, I quickly realized that although attending Rhodes would present a unique challenge in my life, it was one that I was fully prepared to embrace. Given that I am from Pittsburgh and that Rhodes was the only college in the South to which I applied-- compared to more than 10 in the North and Northeast--the idea of going to school here did not begin to resonate with me until I made my final decision. Ultimately, I felt that Rhodes offered the best value compared to the other institutions that I considered. While leaving the Pittsburgh community was not as easy as I had first imagined, coming to Rhodes continues to be one of the best decisions that I have made in my life thus far.
How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes College?
I can sincerely say that I have changed in more ways than I could have envisioned since attending Rhodes. The most conspicuous changes are a product of my exposure and adjustment to a different culture. Although there is a great deal of homogeneity in American culture, there are noticeable differences in preferences and lifestyle here compared to what I was previously accustomed to. I think that I occasionally even forget how much I have changed in this respect until I return home during breaks. On a more fundamental level, I repeatedly find my previously held conceptions challenged at Rhodes, whether it is in the classroom or in my interactions with the Rhodes and Memphis communities. This has driven me to develop a stronger sense of my own values. Although I recognize that I will continue to grow from my life experiences, I am confident that the perspective and skills that I have developed during my time at Rhodes will permit me to positively impact the lives of those around me.
Tell us about your work with The Bridge (a street newspaper for the homeless co-founded by Evan Katz ’15 and James Ekenstedt ’15) and how you have been able to incorporate your academic studies into volunteering.
I started working with The Bridge as an accountant around the founding of the organization. When Evan and James approached me, I was not completely certain about accepting the role, given that my experience was limited to a few accounting courses. However, my excitement about the idea and belief in the people involved made it an offer that I could not refuse. I almost immediately found that my coursework had provided me with the base knowledge necessary to handle the task at hand. The Bridge was much smaller at the time, so the work was not exceedingly laborious. As the organization grew, so too did the demands of the position and the scope of my role; yet, I never felt inadequately prepared to execute my job. One of the best aspects about working with The Bridge has always been that the students involved in leadership roles can shape their respective department however they envision it. This permits a great deal of creativity and the flexibility to apply everything that we have learned. This works well because everyone involved is a volunteer, so it is our passion and belief in what The Bridge can do that drives us to create the best organization possible. For example, I am now in the process of establishing a sales and advertising team, which I am certain will call upon the application of even more elements of my education. Ultimately, this is an opportunity that a student only dreams of having, so I am certainly fortunate to be involved.
Reflecting upon my time thus far with The Bridge makes me realize that it has impacted my post-graduate plans far more than just providing me with experience in my field of interest and helping me to secure employment. As my involvement with The Bridge has evolved, I have developed a deeper connection with the community of Memphis, which has undeniably influenced my decision to work in Memphis after graduation.
Discuss your decision to graduate early, and your future position with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.
Although I did not know if it would happen for certain, this plan has been in progress since early in my high school career, when I resolved to take every AP class that I could fit into my schedule. My goal was to utilize my AP credits towards college as a means of saving tuition money and entering the job market early. I recognized that doing so would translate into seizing available opportunities earlier, expediting the process of establishing myself within a company, and starting to invest as early as possible. By the time my third and final year approached, I already knew about the analyst position with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and fully intended to apply for it. The role offers the opportunity to work with highly knowledgeable individuals in the firm’s Fixed Income Research Group, and the chance to create value for a company as an entry-level employee. I accepted the employment offer to be an investment banking analyst for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey when I was still 20 years old, so to say that the transition from student to young professional required rapid development would be an understatement. I consider myself fortunate to have this opportunity, and I am excited to see what develops from it in the next few years.
Compiled by Caroline Ponseti ′15