Working full-time in undergrad and finding his purpose in pursuing equity.
When I began my undergraduate studies at The University of Tulsa in 2019, I matriculated as a speech-language pathology major. I entered college with the intention and desire to “do something that helps people,” which was a phrase that my academic advisor Patty Kitchen heard too many times. Through my first year and a half of college, I changed my major to nursing to petroleum engineering to undeclared to economics to undeclared business and finally finance – not because I had finally “settled,” but because I found a purpose in creating an equitable system of financial education to those who have not had the same access to home economics and personal finance education as me. I have worked very hard to be where I am today, but I will never forget the people and privileges that helped me get here. I’ve dedicated my career to making a way for everyone I meet to have financial freedom and access to proper personal financial education.
I began working as a Starbucks barista almost immediately after I graduated from high school, and very soon after that I became a shift supervisor for one of the highest grossing stores in Oklahoma. Working 30 to 40 hours a week, navigating being on my own for the first time and trying to maintain my grade-point average in my first year of college didn’t leave room for a lot of social interaction outside of class, work and sleep. However, things changed when I finally decided to declare my finance major at TU’s Collins College of Business. Being surrounded by highly motivated individuals (peers, professors and administrators) opened my eyes to the vast opportunities of being a business professional. While I still needed my job to pay for my basic expenses, I knew that I had to be a part of what was happening in the college.
Clubs and organizations like Beta Alpha Psi and Student Finance Association – and the chance to join the Student Investment Fund, a nearly $6 million endowment fund managed entirely by students and supervised by former Bank of Oklahoma executive Tally Ferguson – are just some of the opportunities presented to students in Collins. Their presence on campus is what kept me pursuing that dream of becoming a finance professional. I’d also like to give a special shoutout to a few of my professors who, probably unknowingly, have change my life, offered new perspectives and inspired me through their dedication to education: Anila Madhan, Megan McCollum and Winona Tanaka. These faculty members are not only committed to in-the-classroom engagement but are concerned with the success of their students outside the classroom, constantly informing us of job opportunities, campus events and new clubs and organizations for students to expand their knowledge and network with incredible professionals from all over the world. (Shoutout to the new Real Estate Club, real estate minor and real estate mentorship program!)
I also cannot write about my time at The University of Tulsa without mentioning that I am a peer mentor under the direction of two staff members who have changed my life in so many ways: Kyle Meador and Steve Denton. Getting to be a part of welcoming new students to our campus (and sometimes being a shameless advocate for Collins College of Business) is the greatest privilege of my life. Being a peer mentor led me to other opportunities within the college – specifically, working with Dean Kathy Taylor and Charity Barton. Getting to host Collins College tailgates, coordinate our Friends of Finance Executive Speaker Series and advocate for students and faculty in the business school is an honor.
All the people and organizations I’ve mentioned have solidified my purpose in life. I strive to not let the privileges I’ve received while working with these people go to waste, and I dedicate my life to creating and fostering a more equitable world through innovative and daring business practices. I have many job offers pending (and am definitely open to new ones) as of the writing of this article, but the most important thing I ask in interviews is how the company is creating and fostering equity in all aspects of business. It is of the utmost importance to me that whoever I work for is equally committed to changing the way we look at financial equity.
Empowerment. Education. Inspiration. Empathy. Change. That’s what my experience at the Collins College of Business has given me; they’re what I know I can bring into the world because of this place, and they’re something that I thoroughly believe you cannot get anywhere else but here.