To understand how fat the Wall Street Semester has progressed, consider the initial feedback to the suggestion that Drew leverage its proximity to New York City by dispatching business and economics majors to lower Manhattan for granular lessons from finance industry professionals.
“The faculty thought it was a terrible idea,” former Board Chair Heath McLendon recalls of the proposal he advanced in 1997.
McLendon could be forgiven a moment to savor the irony as he surveyed the alumni, mentors, students and, yes, faculty gathered in the atrium of BNY Mellon headquarters on an early May evening to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his “terrible idea.”
Since its inauspicious beginning, the Wall Street Semester has dispatched hundreds of future finance wizards to Manhattan each spring for twice-weekly seminars and mentoring from professionals, many of them Drew alumni, representing every corner of the financial sector.
“I tell my students it’s all about the networking,” says Associate Economics Professor Marc Tomljanovich, the program codirector. “And it gives them the confidence to ask a question without thinking they sound stupid.”
During his Wall Street Semester, Peter Ferrari C’09 analyzed financial sectors that weren’t a good fit before identifying opportunities that matched his talents. Now a strategic financial adviser, Ferrari says a day rarely passes that his career isn’t shaped by “an awareness, phrase or word” gleaned from the Wall Street Semester.
A retired president of Smith Barney Fund Management, Heath McLendon, the father of the Wall Street Semester, envisioned an off-campus approach to demonstrate the array of industry options available to business and economics majors following graduation. He was honored at the 20th anniversary reception in New York in May.