2019 Best & Brightest: Jessica Wilson, University of Richmond (Robins)

Jessica Wilson

University of Richmond, Robins School of Business

Continually pushing the envelope in a positive and thoughtful manner.”

Fun fact about yourself: I taught myself how to solve a Rubik’s cube in two hours.

Hometown: Harwich Port, MA

High School: Monomoy Regional High School

Major: Economics and Italian Studies

Minor: Finance

Favorite Business Course: Labor Economics

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Executive Council, Kappa Delta Sorority

Manager, Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF)

Teaching Assistant in the Italian Department

Peer Buddy, Best Buddies

Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society

Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Honor Society

7 consecutive semesters of Dean’s List

Studied abroad for a semester at Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy

Where have you interned during your college career? Bank of America Merrill Lynch; New York, New York, Sales & Trading Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Still searching!

What company do you admire most? I admire Amazon for its ability to be dynamic and innovative, but also place a large emphasis on customer satisfaction. I think some of the other large tech companies prioritize growth above all else, while Amazon focuses on responsible growth.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? People always ask me if I could do college all over again, would I still attend Richmond? My answer is always ‘Yes’ because I would not trade my academic experience here for anything. Every professor I have had in the Robins School of Business since my first day has been supportive and involved. The door is always open to ask questions and the learning experience is so individualized that you are never just another face.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? From studying business, and more importantly economics, I have learned that you can’t go through life without encountering situations where you need an accounting, financial, managerial, or strategic skill set. My foundational knowledge that I have acquired makes me confident that whatever situations I may experience in life, I have the capabilities to approach them and deal with them effectively.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Any student who is considering a major in business should know how valuable it is to have a business degree. Beyond finding a job, the degree will provide you with so many skills such as analytical and critical thinking, communication, and other quantitative and qualitative abilities. Be ready to put in the work though!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has surprised me most about majoring in business and working in business-related fields is how competitive the landscape is. You will get out of the experience what you put into it, but the path isn’t always easy. There are a large number of qualities that someone needs to be successful in business and it is so important to focus on your areas of weakness and always be improving yourself.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…I also double major in Italian, but assuming I didn’t…I would major in one of the natural sciences. When I was applying to schools I often told people I wanted to be pre-med. During high school I had always loved my science classes and if I had another four years at Richmond that is definitely what I would study.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Katie Reimel (Richmond ’19) was one of my first friends at the University of Richmond. One day during freshmen year, we were sitting on her floor having an intellectual conversation about current and past events, politics, the environment, and many other things. I learned so much from her that day about economics, among other things, something she had learned in high school and I had not. The discussion made me so interested in economics, finance, and business. I wanted to have the intellectual capabilities to speak with everyone I encountered in life in a way that we had been able to speak with each other. We have both been economics majors since then!

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? During the first semester of my senior year, I took Dr. John Earl for Portfolio Management. Since freshmen year, I had heard very ominous things about him and the class. I was terrified to take a class where only one person got an ‘A’. This finance class was predominantly filled with extremely bright males and required us to have a great knowledge of finance. I was so proud of myself when I was able to pull out the A, and for the record, Dr. Earl is not as scary as one might think.

Which classmate do you most admire? I went abroad with Bobby Piluso (Richmond ’19) to Milan, Italy during our junior year. I hadn’t really known Bobby before then, but he became a huge role model to me. He is one of the most organized, driven, and positive people that I have ever met. Bobby taught me so much while we were abroad about finance and how to successfully interview.  I honestly don’t think I would have gotten an internship in finance without many of his tips and tricks.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I know it says to pick just one, but both of my parents have provided me with such great encouragement throughout my entire academic career that it really cannot be separated. My mom is always on top of everything that I’m not – she would wake me up for school, she reminded me to turn in my applications on time, and she constantly checks in for updates on my progress. I am more of a spontaneous individual and she has always kept me grounded and in check. My dad has always been my silent cheerleader who is spontaneous (like me) in his advice-giving but he somehow knows exactly what I need to hear, exactly when I need to hear it. I couldn’t have made it to where I am today without them.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Become fluent in Italian, explore Alaska

What are your hobbies? Cooking, running, finding a good movie to watch, traveling, drinking coffee, sunsets on the beach

What made Jess such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Many students are able to excel in my classroom but every so often, I encounter a student who makes me a better educator and a better person through knowing them. Jessica Wilson is one such student. She has impressed me with her classroom excellence, but more than that, with her tenacity and drive. I think what makes Jess truly unique is that these traits are combined with kindness and humility, as well as curiosity and joy of learning. She is a pleasure to know and to teach.

Jess lives and learns with passion, delving into subjects to learn them in a deep way. She has taken extra course work each semester in order to complete two very different majors, Economics and Italian because she didn’t want to abandon her pursuit of learning them both to the best of her abilities. She is an active member of the Student Managed Investment Fund, a prestigious and selective organization that gives students real-world experience in portfolio management, pursuing an interest in investment banking. She is a member of the executive committee of Kappa Delta Sorority and is an active volunteer in the Peer Buddy, Best Buddies organization, following her belief that it’s important to her a part of her community. Instead of shying away from new experiences that might challenge her, she seeks them out and throws herself to conquering the challenge.

It has been a great joy to watch Jess grow over the past 4 years and while I will miss having her on campus, I am excited to see where life takes her. I am confident that she will continue to tackle every new obstacle with grace and courage.”

Dr. Andrea Waddle
Assistant Professor of Economics


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