Economics major Ben Gardner ’21 has been named a Robert Day Scholar at Claremont McKenna College, where he will pursue a master’s in finance. He talks here about the program and how he learned about it.
Could you talk a little bit about the program that you’re going into?
It’s a one-year master's in finance [at Claremont McKenna], where I’m taking some advanced accounting courses and advanced valuation courses … basically an intensive program for finance. I was a little late to the game in terms of deciding that I wanted to go the finance route, so it’s a really good way to dive deeper and give me time to figure out what I want to do within the field.
How did you find out about this program?
The Economics department head Ann Owen sent out an email to the senior class, giving a description of the program and saying if you’re interested, let us know. And [Claremont McKenna] has a relationship with Hamilton where every year, one student gets nominated from the Economics department. I expressed interest, and then I ended up receiving the nomination, and then they put me in contact with the people over at Claremont McKenna. And I went through the whole application process with them afterwards.
Hometown: Ligonier, Pa.
High school: The Kiski School
What in particular attracted you to the field of finance?
That’s a good question, because at first, there were a lot of things that pushed me away from the field. I really didn't like the early recruiting; I felt like I had to know exactly what I wanted to do, going into the process. I took a financial economics class with Javier Pereira and he had a guy come in who started talking about different kinds of auction strategies and how he runs a fund where everything they do is options-based trading. And it was really interesting to me. It was the first thing in a class where I was like, wow—this is cool.
Have any other classes, professors, or mentors at Hamilton helped prepare you for your career?
My coaching staff for the lacrosse team, Coach Barnard and Coach Stone, has prepared me probably the most for my career, just because I think the team—and this gets driven from them—talks about the importance of culture and the importance of communication, having tough conversations … a lot of things that I think don’t get expressed enough in terms of their importance for relationship building or career growth or team building. I think that a lot of the things I’ve learned on the way as I’ve grown by being a part of the team and being a leader on the team and working with them has helped me to step into any culture and be able to affect that culture in a positive way.
What will you miss most about Hamilton?
The people. I love Hamilton to death, everything about Hamilton. I definitely don’t want to leave. Every time I wake up, I’m happy to be here. And there are so many things I love about this place. I love the a cappella community, I love my team, I love all my friends who I’ve met just from being a part of the campus. But definitely my friends and the people.