Above, Westminster students on the 2014 BBIC trip to New York.
Fourteen Westminster students will learn about the world of Wall Street firsthand when they visit New York City Feb. 10-14 as members of the Blue Blazers Investment Committee (BBIC).
The group takes this trip every two years to gain an insider’s look at America’s business and financial centers.
For the first time in the history of these trips, the majority of the expenses are being paid through generous alumni donations. Usually, the trip is financed solely through the profits the group makes annually by managing an actual stock portfolio.
Highlights of the trip will be attending the Opening Bell Ceremony at NASDAQ OMX and visits to New York Stock Exchange, JP Morgan Asset Management, Bloomberg Business News, Wells Fargo Securities, GAMCO/Cabelli Funds with portfolio manager Daniel Miller and the Museum of American Finance, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
The group will also attend an alumni reception at the famous New York Athletic Club.
“This once-in-a-lifetime trip allows our students to take what they have learned in the classroom and link it to real life,” says Westminster President Dr. Benjamin Akande. “Our graduates often have the edge in this highly competitive job market because of opportunities such as this one.”
Westminster students on the 2016 trip include:
Seniors—Amelia Ayers from Ballwin, MO, Olivia Gibby from Little Rock, AR, Kunzes Dolma Dumbang from Leh Ladakh, India, Ryan Loethen from St. Elizabeth, MO, William Miller from St. Louis, and Blake Stonecipher from Wildwood, MO;
Juniors—Jordan Cox from Lees Summit, MO, Grant Peterson from Chillicothe, MO; Kaitlin Fitzpatrick from Batavia, IL, Blake Harris from Oklahoma City, OK; Robyn Parkinson from St. Louis, MO, Kenneth Schmidt from St. Louis, MO; and Jakob Shill from Mesa, AZ; and
Sophomore—Percy Vanacht from Chesterfield, MO.
The trip is planned and coordinated by Brock Ayers, ’82, the founder of the Blue Blazers Investment Committee and mentor to the group, and the group’s advisor, Dr. Edward Mirielli, Chair of the Computer Science Department, with the assistance of Wells Fargo Advisors. Ayers is a Financial Advisor and First Vice-President-Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors and is a member of the Westminster College Board of Trustees.
“Every one of our Blue Blazers returns from New York with advice for being successful in the market world and guidance for their careers,” says Ayers. “Frequently, the time they are able to spend with Westminster alumni that are working in the New York financial markets opens up doors for them, leading to internships and employment.”
Established in 1996, the Blue Blazers Investment Committee is a selective, student maintained investment committee that encourages intellectual growth and educates undergraduates on the use of investment vehicles in capital markets.
In 1996, the Westminster Board of Trustees allocated college endowment funds to the Blazers to invest in the stock market. Currently, the group is managing $495,000. The students do extensive research and then buy and sell equities to build and manage an actual investment portfolio. The group is self-governing and enjoys great autonomy over investment decisions. They are free to buy and sell stocks and other options. Through this experience, they receive the rare opportunity to experience how investing in the stock market works firsthand.
“My role as advisor is one mainly of administrative work and coordination,” says Dr. Mirielli. “I do not have a direct hand in the BBIC’s process. The success of the investment committee has and will continue to rest in the hands of the students who take their participation seriously while learning about investing through experience and fundamental strategies.”
This will be the group’s eighth visit to New York. They have been featured on CNBC twice. During their first tour, they were able to stand in the Twin Towers.
“This is truly a team effort to make this trip possible with private sector and the academic community partnering together,” says Ayers. “It is very much a cooperative process.”