After a year-long application process, Katie Burke ’13 and her founding team are ready to put Gettysburg College among the ranks of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and 14 other prestigious colleges and universities with the introduction of a new organization on campus: Smart Woman Securities (SWS).
Started by two 2007 Harvard University graduates, SWS seeks to offer financial advice to students with little to no background in investment or economics. Through a series of lectures this fall, students who may have never taken an economics or business class will have the opportunity to learn in a casual setting how to make good decisions with their money.
“The whole point of Smart Woman Securities is to teach undergraduate women how to manage their own personal finances,” said Burke, a psychology major at Gettysburg College with a minor in business.
“The idea behind the organization is to teach you—once you’re done paying off your loans and you get a job and you’re making money—what’s the best way to save [your money] and also what’s the best way to invest it.”
While the organization and lecture series are open to everyone, they are specifically geared toward women. Burke points out that women could be apprehensive to join male-dominated financial clubs on college campuses. SWS provides a comfortable setting for interested students to learn about savings and investment starting with the basics.
Worth the Wait
As Burke and her founding team will attest, bringing SWS to Gettysburg was a challenging but rewarding process. Out of fifteen institutions seeking charters at the beginning of last year, only four were approved: New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Chicago, and Gettysburg College.
“It’s so exciting. After all the work we put in, it feels great to have beaten out all those schools,” said Kelley Furman ‘13, an organization and management studies major with a minor in business.
Furman, who was intimately involved in the application process, recalls the hard work it took to bring SWS to Gettysburg. The group put together a 60-page proposal, held weekly conference calls with headquarters, and submitted weekly progress reports.
Burke, Furman, and the rest of the founding team (Katy Compton ‘14, Sam Gailey ‘15 and Katherine Taylor ’13) were fortunate enough to have the support of Gettysburg College faculty and alumni both during and after the application process. Organization and management studies professor Karen Frey serves as the faculty advisor for the organization, and has been a source of inspiration along the way.
“All of the professors who have been helping us are genuinely interested in watching us succeed and kind of go where we want to go with this organization. It’s fantastic to see that,” said Burke.
Economics professor Drew Murphy has also been helpful in providing Burke and her team with names of alumni and local professionals to contact as potential guest speakers for the lecture series. One such alumnus is Kevin Smith ’89, First Vice President of Wealth Management and Financial Advisor at Smith, Mayer and Liddle, a wealth advisory group based in York. Smith has been supportive of the SWS chapter as they enter their first year of programming at Gettysburg College.
Beginning the week of September 16, weekly lectures will be held featuring guest speakers that include Dr. Karen Frey and Holly Mayer, Vice President of Wealth Management and Financial Advisor at Smith, Mayer and Liddle. Some examples of seminar titles for the first few weeks are “Intro to Investing: Basics,” “Understanding the Stock Market” and “Practical Guide to Investing Now.”
High Hopes for the Future
Out of the five founding members of Gettysburg’s chapter of SWS, three will be graduating in 2013. Although Burke and Furman will only see the beginning of this organization’s presence on campus, they are confident that the group will continue to grow and develop in coming years.
“We have a junior and a sophomore on the executive board now,” said Furman. “And we hope to have people apply for leadership positions in the future.”
The founding SWS team plans to put their newly-learned financial advice to use in managing the organization’s finances. Their hope is that the group will save up enough money in the coming years to open an investment fund. Future members will be able to practice their financial skills by managing this investment fund.
“We’ve been really good about minimizing our costs,” said Furman.
Since all of the guest lecturers have agreed to speak free of charge, operating costs for the organization are relatively low. There is, however, one major expense that the founding team plans to fundraise for.
Each April, SWS members from all chapters are invited to attend a weekend conference in Omaha, Neb., where participants are given the opportunity to meet with Warren Buffett and other influential financial professionals. Burke and her team will attend the conference for the first time in April. While this event will expose attendees to invaluable financial advice and networking opportunities, it will also provide skills and information that they can bring back to Gettysburg to share with other members of SWS.
Other national programs sponsored by SWS include a portfolio competition and mentorship program. SWS also hosts an annual stock pitch competition, through which winning teams are selected to travel to New York City and pitch their stock ideas to an investment board at JP Morgan. Anyone who attends all ten lectures in the SWS series is considered a member of the organization and is therefore eligible to take part in these national programs.
If Burke and Furman’s enthusiasm is any indication, Smart Woman Securities will prove to be a positive asset to the Gettysburg College community. A general information session about the Smart Woman Securities fall lecture series will be held on September 11 at 12 p.m. in CUB 260. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Article by: Liz Williams '13, communications & marketing intern
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803
Posted: Mon, 10 Sep 2012
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