Among the innumerable negative consequences of the pandemic, a few unexpected positives emerged. Just ask Joseph Craven P'18, Joe Gennaco P'11, and Robert Job, former finance executives who — in the summer of 2020 — created an organization to help first-generation college students gain valuable experience in the field.

“At that time, the three of us were going through our own transitions into retirement or semi-retirement, moving away from our primary careers,” Gennaco said. “We all wanted to give back to the industry that had blessed us with wonderful careers.” This wish led the trio to create the Sapere Aude Consortium, which at the time aimed to help “the students who were excited about their internships, until poof — they went away,” he said. 

To reach this goal, Sapere Aude (which translates from Latin as "Dare to Know") approached schools with which they already had personal connections. All of the founders have a link to Hamilton: Gennaco and Craven both have sons who attended, and Job’s father is an alumnus. Instrumental to this partnership was Cheney Cronin, an assistant director of the Career Center, who “really drove the connection when Joe [Gennaco] first reached out to her,” Craven said. “She’s been a really amazing partner.”

With Hamilton and other colleges on board, the consortium began designing a curriculum based on conducting research, gaining industry knowledge, and receiving mentorship. At the end of a hectic but successful first program in the summer of 2020, the founders paused to reassess. “We said: do we want to keep doing this? Have we achieved our purpose? And the three of us agreed — no, there’s something more here,” Craven recalled. 

So their focus shifted elsewhere: to supporting first-generation college students interested in finance. “We felt they needed the most assistance. They didn’t have the resources, the connections, or the networking know-how,” Gennaco explained.

Now classified as a nonprofit, Sapere Aude seeks out “first-generation college students and children of public servants” in order to “prepare this cohort of students to compete for and gain ‘rising senior’ internships at investment and wealth management firms.”

And the results speak for themselves. Since 2020, around 80 students have been through the consortium’s program, and “all of them have secured paid internships in or tied to the asset or wealth management business,” Gennaco said. Among these 80 are several Hamilton students, past and present, who have either launched finance careers after working with the consortium or plan to do so upon graduating. 

“The consortium gives you the confidence to be part of leadership and develop fluency in financial terms. I would recommend it to everyone.”

Samuel Ntim-Addae ’21 is one such former student, and he spoke positively about the summer he spent working with Sapere Aude during its inaugural program in 2020. “It gave me real-life exposure to the financial world in a way that was very innovative for the COVID time,” he said. “It gave me good knowledge of financial topics in general, and was helpful specifically for the interviews.”

Ntim-Addae, who now works as a market sales analyst at BlackRock, emphasized the value of the consortium’s mentorship. “They were very present and very helpful,” he said, referring to the industry professionals who oversee student research and career development. Two more program alumni, Maeve Luparello ’23 and Sabrina Turner ’24, expressed similar sentiments. Luparello is just starting out as an asset management analyst at Goldman Sachs; Turner is interning at the same company this summer, a year after working with Sapere Aude.

“The consortium gives you the confidence to be part of leadership and develop fluency in financial terms,” Luparello said. “I would recommend it to everyone.”

Turner mentioned that the program is “very mentorship focused,” a quality that led her to trust in her own skills and knowledge. “They had so many influential people from across the industry helping us,” she said.

Expect Opportunity

We have funds that enable you to conduct research with your faculty mentor, attend a national conference to present your findings, provide stipends for you to take on an unpaid internship, visit a museum or catch a performance off campus, and more.

Going forward, the consortium founders are thinking carefully about how to proceed. But for now, they said, the plan is to keep up the work they have begun. “We believe deeply that first-generation students are a unique cohort of DEI, and that economic diversity is critical to the wealth and investment industry,” Craven said. “We want to help. We want to make a difference. We believe in the first generation.”

Hamilton students can learn more about the Sapere Aude Consortium program in two ways; information will be posted in Handshake (usually in January with a late February deadline), and the founders and past participants also host a virtual info session early in the spring semester.   

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