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Whether talking with current or former Finance majors about their experience with Elmira College's Finance program, one theme appears throughout the conversations: the professors at EC helped steer and encourage their students into this exciting field. The students all benefited from the small class sizes and close bonds they formed with their professors and valued the focus on experiential learning.
Marcus Astesana '17, an international student from Sweden, was attending EC when the Finance program launched in 2014. Astesana was majoring in International Business, but he enjoyed his Economics courses with Dr. Mariam Khawar, Professor of Economics. She asked Astesana about his interests and together they worked out how he could reach a triple major in Business, Economics, and Finance.
"One of my biggest achievements was balancing the triple major and still doing well academically," he said.
For Astesana, Finance opened up new possibilities he hadn't considered before.
"I felt like I was learning the hacks of investing and personal finance," he said. "Things I thought were super hard and only people on Wall Street understand."
Astesana is now back in Stockholm working as an investment specialist at Nordea Asset Management. He has excelled at his company thanks, in part, to his Finance and Economics classes. But Astesana also credits the broader liberal arts focus, particularly his English and writing courses.
"My English skills helped me stand out in my work," he said. "Since we are an international firm where English is not most of my colleagues' native language, having solid writing and English skills come in handy."
While Astesana graduated four years ago, his sentiments are shared by soon-to-be graduates, Adam Eby '20 and Martin Kapoian '22.
Eby started on a different path majoring in Business Administration. But, after getting exposed to Finance and Economics courses, he decided on a new direction. His Business and Economics professors helped him make the shift and add Finance, Economics, and Spanish, even though it meant adding another year to get his degree.
"Professors Mark Abdalla, Alison Wolfe, and Mariam Khawar guided me toward my interests and it has worked out well," he said. "The professors at Elmira College want to build a relationship with their students. We take for granted to be able to walk up to professors and see them during office hours and have them help give you advice."
Kapoian feels the same. He said his twin sister attends a much larger state university and her advisor sees thousands of students.
"I don't think any other college is going to have that hands-on experience that EC has," he said. "Our advisors are professors. They see us and teach us, so they know us personally and can give us more guidance."
Another uniting theme among Astesana, Eby, and Kapoian is how they view Finance as a way to help people achieve their goals.
"Whether I go into personal finance or business consulting, I want to be put in an opportunity that will be of service to people," said Eby.
"Finance helps you in your personal life," said Kapoian. "If you want to invest in an annuity or 401K, understanding the basics helps you in general."
"I get to help clients meet their goals, and that is exciting," said Astesana.
Mark Abdalla, Assistant Professor of Finance, explained that Finance is a broad and impactful field of study. Students can focus on the processes for helping companies make decisions or they can focus on how to help individuals achieve their financial goals.
"The Finance major prepares our students for all of the available opportunities within the field," he said.
Abdalla, who recently started teaching at Elmira College, is impressed with the students in his classes. "They are leaders in their own right," he said.