2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Elizabeth Vaughn, Villanova University

Elizabeth Vaughn

Villanova University School of Business

“An aspiring businesswoman running either around the track or on campus, but with a smile!”

Fun fact about yourself: I had a $0.25 goldfish that lived to be 13 years old.

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

High School: Oakwood High School

Major: Applied Quantitative Finance

Minor: Mathematics

Favorite Business Course: Applied Machine Learning with Professor Sue Metzger challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and exposed me to the world of AI and machine learning. Professor Metzger is an incredible role model for her students, and she brought diverse and relevant examples to class every day, both to Applied Machine Learning and an introductory python class. One cannot become a programming expert in just two courses, but Professor Metzger sure got us as close as we could! Applied Machine Learning gave me the confidence and curiosity to further develop my programming knowledge and capitalize upon opportunities in the AI and machine learning spaces.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Villanova NCAA Division I Cross Country and Track and Field Teams

August 2020 – Present

  • Compete as part of nationally recognized distance program year-round with full practice hours and competition in fall cross country, winter indoor track, and spring outdoor track seasons
  • 2021 Big East Outdoor Track Team Champion and competed at 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships

Society of Women in Financial Training (SWIFT)

President | January 2021 – Present

  • Mentor and lead 30+ women exploring finance to grow their technical and soft skills, confidence, and networks through biweekly Coffee and Current Events discussions, employer information sessions, and other club events

Villanova Presidential Scholars Program (PSP)

Executive Chair| April 2023 – Present

  • Lead the PSP Executive Board to conceive and implement ideas for community, professionalism, and academic development of ~100 presidential scholars at Villanova through event planning, communication with students, and coordination with administrators

Dean’s Undergraduate Student Advisory Council

Committee Leader | April 2023 – Present

  • Engage in round table discussions with Associate Dean German and students to enhance the many facets of the Villanova School of Business, specifically focusing on the Bartley Hall Operations Committee seeking to improve Bartley’s dining, printing, study rooms, and more

OPUS Prize Oversight Committee

Student Representative | November 2022 – November 2023

  • Invited to serve on committee selecting recipients of a $1M and two $100K faith-based humanitarian awards when Villanova was chosen as the university to select the annual recipient

Villanova University Board of Trustees and Villanova Student Government Association

Investment Committee Member and Senator | September 2020 – May 2022

  • Elected freshman year as one of six freshmen senators and re-elected in two succeeding years as one of two school of business senators
  • Served alongside fellow student senators as one of three student representatives on the University Board of Trustees Investment Committee

Villanova Finance Group

Wildcat Fund, M&A Society, and Villanova Investing Academy Club Member | September 2020 – November 2022

  • Participated in weekly educational workshops, guest speakers, stock pitches, and company events for broad exposure to various fields of finance, career paths, and technical skills


  • Villanova Davis Presidential Scholarship (full merit-based scholarship), Fall 2020 – Present
  • Villanova University Social Impact Case Competition Winning Team, April 2023
  • Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honors Society, Spring 2023 – Present
  • Big East All-Academic (all academic years), Spring 2021 – Spring 2023
  • PwC Mid-Atlantic Challenge Case Competition Winning Team, January 2021
  • Academic Director’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List (all semesters), Fall 2020 – Fall 2023
  • National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, Spring 2020

Where have you interned during your college career?

Bank of America Global Investment Banking: Financial Sponsors Group Summer Analyst

New York, NY | Summer 2023

  • Executed financial sponsor related transactions including LBOs, IPOs, refinancings and dividend recapitalizations and worked on deal evaluating ~$1.8B of committed financing to support Sponsor’s ~$800M acquisition of a company

New Mountain Capital: Credit Analyst

New York, NY | Summer 2022

  • Summer Analyst for New Mountain’s Credit Team, monitoring portfolio companies across several funds in credit strategy with $10.1B AUM

Girls Who Invest: Online Intensive Intern

Remote | Summer 2022

  • Enhanced understanding of core finance concepts with Wharton Online, CFA Institute, and Wall Street Prep modules

Where will you be working after graduation?

Alvarez and Marsal: Corporate Performance Improvement Analyst

Chicago, IL | Starting July 2024

  • Accepted full-time offer to join Alvarez and Marsal’s Advancing and Cultivating Emerging Leaders (ACE) program

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? If studying business taught me one thing, it is the importance of teamwork and leadership. The Villanova School of Business (VSB) does an incredible job incorporating group assignments into almost every course. These repeated group projects taught me how to work alongside and motivate a group with different priorities, schedules, and levels of expertise, and the importance of a cohesive team. As we graduate VSB and enter the workforce, knowing that we’ve developed more than just technical skills makes me even more excited to jump into the professional world and further hone these skills.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Study abroad! While I personally wasn’t able to go abroad for a whole semester due to athletics, my peers have proven that it is an invaluable period of growth. It was eye-opening to see friends return from abroad with a newfound interest in environmental ethics, derivatives, or anything in between. These are irreplaceable life experiences, and they may just help you find your place within business or the world as a whole.

I had the opportunity to visit a few friends abroad over spring break, and even that short period of time made me realize how much you can learn about yourself when stepping a bit outside of your comfort zone and exploring the unexplored. Don’t be afraid to take risks and know that campus will always be waiting for you when you return. It may just be these new experiences that bring clarity to life’s more daunting decisions such as major choice.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? While I knew much of business centered around your “network” and was drawn to the intra-personal aspect of business, the sheer power of people has surprised me, in the best way possible. Nothing is more impactful than knowing, engaging, and growing from those who came before you. I have been continually surprised with the breadth, responsiveness, and eagerness of the Nova Network. From countless phone calls, meals, or coffees with alumni to the selfless time speakers give up visiting campus, I have gained new insights and made career decisions as a result of these relationships. I am grateful for the Villanovans who came before us taking us under their guidance and look forward to continuing this support system for the next generations. The most valuable information cannot be learned in a textbook, but rather from those around you. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own success, but if you learn from others, it will come worlds easier.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Villanova offers a Student Managed Fund class where a few dozen students are responsible for managing the Wildcat Fund with over $1.7M AUM. Our track practice schedule conflicted with the class time, so I was disappointed to be unable to take the course. However, I know so many of my peers learned so much from this class, and they speak for years post-grad on the market and professional skills it taught them. As I learned from the nagging regret of not being able to take the SMF course, never turn down an opportunity for knowledge.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I came into college fiercely determined to maintain diverse involvement outside of the classroom, and I am proud to look back upon the past four years knowing I was able to grow in so many different ways and immerse myself amongst so many different groups of people. After potentially too much ambition in the first few years – and seeing the negative effects that overreaching can have on the activities that you care most about – I am proud to have learned from these experiences and believe they have made me a stronger person. I am very grateful for the time management and realization of the importance of communication that the balancing act provided me. I am confident that these lessons will continue to serve me throughout my career.

Which classmate do you most admire? I have admired my classmate, Sarah Sweeney, every day for the past four years. Sarah is so much more than just a senior finance major: editor of the newspaper, leader in the Villanova Finance Group, teacher’s assistant, and a coding wizard, just to name a few. I have had the privilege to work with Sarah as VSB Ambassadors, within the Villanova Finance Group, and on numerous group projects and her widespread love by the Villanova community always amazes me. Sarah’s time, while in high demand, finds its way into many people’s lives and she is greeted with the same “Sarah!!!” across all of campus.

Sarah embodies what it means to be a fearless business leader, never afraid to ask the tough questions and always sharp on the most recent news. She exudes the passion, intellect, and fiery determination of the Villanova community. Sarah has made me and so many others better people, and I am continually grateful to have her as my classmate and lifelong friend.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I can speak for many from the realm of Villanova Finance and Real Estate when I say how grateful I am to have had Dr. Shelly Howton as a mentor and role model since freshman year. Dr. Howton must have more than 24 hours in a day, because she somehow finds the time to share her wisdom, guidance, and everything in between with so many students. I can’t help but feel badly every time I stop by and interrupt her, but she makes it seem as if I could stay all day. This includes daily office visits during internship decision periods, patient planning of SWIFT (Women in Finance) meetings, or more recently office hours for class, Dr. Howton’s door is quite literally always open. Dr. Howton has encouraged me to stay strong when times were tough and given me the victorious fist bump over life’s smallest victories. She is someone that I look up to daily and wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

Thank you, Dr. Howton, for not just being there, but ensuring we all stay on the right path. There is a reason so many alumni keep in touch with you, and I’m sure it’s because you did just as much for them as you did for us: just about everything.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Near the top of my professional bucket list is to be an industry expert and owner, officer, or director of an influential organization, helping to lead it to new heights. Additionally, more broadly speaking, the overarching goal on my professional bucket list is to leave a positive impact on those who work for me that lasts beyond my career.

What made Elizabeth such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“I have known Elizabeth for four years as the advisor of a women in finance group and now as her professor and believe that she is truly an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024.

Elizabeth is a truly impressive woman who is at the top of her class at Villanova University. She is an Applied Quantitative Finance major with a 3.99 GPA, a member of the Big East All-Academic Team, and a Big East Outdoor Track Team Champion. Elizabeth has succeeded at the highest levels and continues to be a leader in the Class of 2024. In her 4 years at Villanova, Elizabeth has distinguished herself as a strong advocate for women especially in the finance industry. In her role as president of SWIFT, a student-led organization for Women in Finance, Elizabeth mentors women and helps provide them with the confidence and networking skills necessary to be successful in the industry. As a member of the Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Council for over 3 years, Elizabeth engaged in discussions with the Associate Dean to enhance the student experience in the business school and took a leadership role by serving as chair of the Bartley Hall Operations Committee. Elizabeth was also a leader on campus where she was elected as a Senator in Student Government and served as a student representative on the University Board of Trustees Investment Committee. Her willingness to serve VSB and Villanova in any capacity needed is especially impressive as she does so while participating in both cross country and track and field as a Division-1 athlete.

Academically, Elizabeth stands out through her participation with a small cohort of students in an applied quantitative finance program which includes a number of STEM classes taken alongside more traditional finance coursework. I am excited to have Elizabeth in class this semester and although it is early have already noticed that she is always prepared and asks insightful questions that demonstrate her true interest in the field of finance. Elizabeth has had several impressive internships starting with Girls Who Invest as a sophomore. Last summer she interned in investment banking for Bank of America’s Financial Sponsor Group and was hired full-time as an analyst with Alvarez and Marsal in their Advancing and Cultivating Emerging Leaders program. Her motivation and intense drive to succeed are key to Elizabeth’s many accomplishments at Villanova University.

Elizabeth’s impressive academic achievements and her strong advocacy of promoting and supporting women in finance are two of the main reasons I believe that she has been such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024 and to Villanova University.”

Shelly Howton, PhD.
Professor of Finance
Chair of Department of Finance & Real Estate Villanova School of Business


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