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Getting to Goldman Sachs: The Effects of a Network

Written by Avery Morgan (2019)

Major: Finance

As graduation approaches, I spend a lot of time reflecting on my time as a Haslam Scholar at UT. From my time studying abroad in Scotland to my interdisciplinary Haslam Scholars Program (HSP) courses, I learned lessons about friendships, being flexible, and the intrinsic value of learning.  However, the most valuable lesson that I learned is the importance of building social and professional networks. My very best relationships are those authentically formed with academics, colleagues, and friends who display a mutual sense of support and respect that span beyond business and classes to an individual level. The people I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with throughout my time as a Haslam Scholar and at UT have helped shape my personal, academic, and career goals, all of which have instilled a sense of confidence, accountability, and pride. 

As a scholar, I have developed and cultivated strong connections with my peers, who, with their various majors, research interests, and personalities have helped me deepen my understanding of the world around me. During my first year as a newly minted Haslam Scholar, I lived and interacted with my cohort in Brown Residence Hall. Almost immediately they became the support system I needed to be successful. Our sharing of personal experiences, goals, and advice extended beyond the threshold of the classrooms and this remains to be true. Each of us takes a unique approach to how we desire to change the world through our service, scholarship, and career goals.

Of course, no Haslam Scholar experience would be complete without the 2nd year trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.  Studying abroad provided me with the foundation of establishing a global network. While in Scotland, I connected with the professors and students at the university. Each day I was exposed to new ideas and opportunities that enriched my experience abroad.

When I consider my major academic and career goals, I have to admit, in part because of my cohort, my goals have become a bit loftier, my perspective has broadened and my appreciation for collaboration has grown.  As a finance major, I  developed the technical, conceptual, and analytical skills required to study asset allocation and financial markets. I specialized in the financial sector as a Haslam Torch Fund Manager, where I worked with a team to manage over $1.25 million dollars in assets. I also cultivated a relationship with Dr. Deborah Harrell, Director of the Torch Funds, who provided constant guidance throughout my tenure on the Fund.  Eventually, I began to value her not just as a professor, but as a mentor and friend. She taught me that sometimes you need to be handed slightly more than you think you can handle in order to transform and grow as a professional and a person. For every moment of self-doubt, she was there with encouragement and words of empowerment.


I also have become fascinated with the relationship between policy and global economies, specifically how geopolitical events influence financial markets and currencies. I combined my interest in finance with political science to pursue this passion through my research on the impact of Brexit on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, the 250 Index and the British Pound. I believe my thesis will contribute to ongoing discourse in this new area of study.

I plan to expand my research regarding Brexit’s implications for financial markets in the Spring semester of my senior year as a research assistant at the London School of Economics. I will continue to make new connections while abroad and return in time for graduation.  In the meantime, I will continue to reflect on my time as a scholar at UT and prepare to begin my career at Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst.  As these next steps come, I hope to carry with me the HSP’s values of integrity, justice, diversity, and responsibility. I hope I can emulate Dr. Turner’s fairness and accountability and Dr. Harrell’s passion, intellectual curiosity, and ambition. As my network and opportunities grow into the future, I hope to give back to members of the HSP and the University of Tennessee, sharing the light that my friends and mentors have shared with me.