Blue Blazers Blaze a Trail to New York: 10th Trip Declared a Success
By Madison Ingram, West Wings Student Marketing Agency Member
More than 30 members of the Westminster College Blue Blazers Investment Committee (BBIC) travelled to New York City from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23 on a trip that is unique to Westminster College students.
Those participating in the experiential learning trip visited the Opening Bell Ceremony at NASDAQ, the New York Stock Exchange, JP Morgan Asset Management, Bloomberg Business News, Wells Fargo Securities and other Wall Street financial institutions.*
The BBIC itself was founded in 1996 and today is composed of more than 50 Westminster College students. Students help manage an impressive stock portfolio of $825,000. This year’s trip marks the 10th anniversary of the committee’s biennial trip to Wall Street in New York City. It was the largest since the trip was founded in 2001.
Brock Ayers, ’82 ΔΤΔ, founder of BBIC, accompanied the students in New York and acts as a mentor to students in the organization. He says the trip is made possible by the generous donations of alumni donors.
“The key to our trip, and I think a key aspect to Westminster, is that it takes all facets of the Westminster community working together to make it work: students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,” Ayers explains.
Alumnus Greg Richard, ’88 ΔΤΔ, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Interpace Diagnostics, was among the many alumni who supported the group. He hosted a gathering at the Orchard Townhouse, where students were able to network extensively with alumni.
Junior Allie Kennebeck, , of St. Louis, MO, says her knowledge and interest in the stock market has grown vastly since joining BBIC and attending the New York trip.
“As a biology major, I had never pictured myself as someone who would pay close attention to the way the stock market worked; I had always viewed it as a lofty concept that I would never fully comprehend,” she says.
Over the years, the New York trip has been refined and improved to better the students’ experience. While other schools have adopted similar programs, Westminster is unique in in its approach of involving the entire college community ― faculty, staff and alumni ― in the students’ experience.
Ayers adds that the student members of the Blue Jay Nation charm the New Yorkers by presenting themselves well in business attire and with professional attitudes. As a bonus, the students also carry a bit of the College’s storied history with them.
“We bring with us a unique historical pedigree due to the National Churchill Museum,” Ayers reflects. “We carried pieces of the Berlin Wall all around NYC and gave them to presenters as gifts and invited all to campus.”
Read further for just a few of many testimonials about the BBIC and the organization’s recent trip to New York.
“I joined Blue Blazers because I wanted to be more involved and learn more about the business world and investments. On this trip, I experienced endless opportunities to learn and grow and gained a greater appreciation for my major and career field.” ‒ Grace Marie Archambault, ’21 Kappa Gamma, Accounting and Business Administration Double Major
“My sisters in Kappa Alpha Theta urged me to apply for a membership in Blue Blazers. I took the opportunity in New York to make connections with alumni, to explore the area of stocks and to learn about future opportunities in the field of investments.” ‒ Rebecca Anne Bond, ’20 Kappa Alpha Theta, Self-Designed Major: Early Intervention of Education and Psychology
“Being one of a few schools that has an organization that invests real money in the stock market was a huge factor in me coming to Westminster, as I began research into stocks my junior year of high school. I knew Blue Blazers would further my education in the skill, which it has tremendously. This trip was filled with memories and opportunity. I learned a lot from this experience and formed valuable connections during my time in New York. It was a trip to remember.” ‒ Thomas James Booker, ’22 Phi Delta Theta, Biochemistry Major
“When I joined Blue Blazers, I did not know much about stocks or the markets. I really dove full in, trying to learn the best I could. A year later, I am the current CEO of the organization, with Fast Money playing on my TV continuously. I spent the last year really trying succeed the best I could within the organization while also at the same time learning from my investing failures. BBIC has allowed me to really gain a vast amount of knowledge that I once thought would be out of reach for me. It will benefit me for the rest of my life.” ‒ Connor Wessel Felter, ’21 Phi Delta Theta, Physics Major with a Minor in Math and Preengineering
“One of the biggest attractions about Westminster for me was the Blue Blazers Investment Committee. I knew I wanted to major in Finance before attending college, and that helped solidify my decision in choosing Westminster. During the trip to New York, I enjoyed networking with others in the finance industry and learning from them. ‒ Jonathan Vincent Ruzzo, ’20 Beta Theta Pi, Finance Major
“I transferred to Westminster College from the University of Missouri-Columbia. While at MU, I missed out on the aspects and benefits of attending a smaller school. I have had an interest in the stock market since I took my first finance class in high school. I have loved being given the chance to be a member of Blue Blazers. I tried to learn as much as I could on the New York trip.” ‒ Giovanni Dee Strickland, ’21 Delta Tau Delta, Business Administration Major with a Focus on Finance
“I have been interested in and following the stock market since high school. When I heard about Blue Blazers, I knew I wanted to become a part of the organization so I could get experience using real money in the stock market and see how a large portfolio performs. I was the chief education officer last year, and I enjoyed that experience. ‒ Joshua Benson Udinyiwe, ’21 Delta Tau Delta, Biochemistry Major
“I joined Blue Blazers because I heard about the amazing opportunities the students gained, such as a broader knowledge of investments, the stock market and the business world. In New York, I enjoyed meeting inspirational leaders while gaining opportunities that not many undergraduate students are fortunate to have.” ‒ Angela Nicole Vanderpluym, ’20 Kappa Gamma, Exercise Science Major with a Minor in Nutrition and Psychology
For more information on the BBIC or their recent trip to New York, please contact Brock Ayers at Brock.Ayers@WellsFargoAdvisors.com.
*Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC.