Duke Financial Economics Center 2020-2021 Year in Review
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Financial Economics Center
2020-2021 Year in Review, DFE Logo, June 2020 on Duke Navy Blue background with orange arch graphic

Virtual But No Less Real

The 2020-2021 academic year will always stand out. We knew we were adaptive, but virtual teaching, advising, and event coordination acquainted us with a new level of teamwork and creativity. At times it was frustrating, especially the inability to work side by side in Soc Sci or grab coffee with a student/colleague/visiting alum in Von der Heyden Pavilion, but we used the tools we had (thank you, Zoom) to keep things—the conversations, the resources, and the education—real.
Continuing markers of success and growth guided us through the year's challenges. For the fifth consecutive year, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2021 College Rankings put Duke among the top schools for student outcomes, taking into account graduation rates, teaching reputation, the salaries earned by graduates, and the debt burdens they carry. While this consistent performance is shared across the university, we can tie it directly to DFE's success in educating students for their first jobs in finance. 
In the fall, we were pleased to consolidate and build our student advising efforts under the new Eichel Finance Advising Network, made possible by a generous gift from Scott Eichel '97. This spring, we tapped into the insight of the DFE Steering Committee to determine the center's next strategic initiatives: ESG investing and real estate. To support the wealth of student interest in these areas with new courses, extracurriculars, and advising, we will work with steering committee members to forge new alumni and corporate networks over the next year.
Read on for more about our 2020-2021 activities and accomplishments as well as our wholehearted thanks for staying connected with DFE through a year that was a collective lesson in resilience.
Gothic details on West Campus


Duke students had over 30 finance courses to choose from in the 2020-2021 academic year. The most recent addition to the list is an ESG Investing course offered by Nicholas School of the Environment Associate Professor Chris Wedding.
Teaching Director Emma Rasiel piloted two online courses for high school students through the fall and spring, Irrational Behavior in Financial Decision-making and Personal Finance. The rollout was successful, with an enrollment of 80+ high schoolers. She plans to offer the courses in future semesters.
DFE's study away programs have been on pause since spring 2020. We are excited to resume the long-running Duke in New York Financial Markets & Institutions program in spring 2022 and have hopes to resume the Duke in London Finance program in summer 2022. The Duke in Chicago Finance will not run until further notice due to barriers posed by Illinois state regulations. We are exploring options for a summer program in a new location.
Chart of markets activity
Screenshot of students presenting on Zoom


DFE's annual corporate-sponsored competitions for sophomores were held virtually and included the Morgan Stanley Trading Game, Wells Fargo Corporate Valuation Competition, the BlackRock Asset Allocation Competition, and the Goldman Sachs Trade Pitch Competitition. Watch the winning BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo presentations. 
In the fall, the Finance Alumni/Parent Mentor Program connected 106 sophomores with finance professionals for one-on-one, self-guided conversations about recruiting, networking, and career planning. Mentor volunteers from Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo took part.
The January Mock Interview Days (formerly January Networking Days) program was on hiatus in 2021 due to the pandemic. We are planning the 2022 program, in which sponsoring firms will hold virtual mock interviews with sophomores over January 20, 21, 24, and 25. 
Attendance at our spring semester Diversity Reading Group was not deterred by the switch to a virtual format; an average of 40 students from all class years attended each of the seven sessions led by Executive Director John Caccavale. The sessions featured a 30-minute discussion of global events and activity in the markets and then a 30-minute, informal conversation with a young alum. Guests included Tim Evans '14 (Brownstone), Jenna Goronkin '16 (McKinsey), Kenny Osakwe '12 (Cerberus Capital), Ya Fang '17 (J.P. Morgan), Diego Nogales '16 (RBC), Ryan Buxbaum '15 (Fortress Investment Group), and Monique Barrios Taylor '12 (Goldman Sachs).
To support students in managing stress and anxiety during this challenging academic year, DFE offered nine sessions of Koru Mindfulness. One participant told us: "Meeting up weekly for Koru has been such a wonderful experience. Everyone creates a peaceful, safe, and accepting atmosphere. I learned some great mindfulness techniques that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life."

Dzialga Initiative

This spring we celebrated the graduation of the first class of Dzialga Fellows. These 11 women, who joined the initiative as sophomores, are entering a range of careers, from sales and trading at Citi to consulting at Bain & Company to data science at Red Ventures. As the Dzialga network grows with each new graduating class, we look forward to linking current fellows with alumnae for mentorship as well as exposure to a variety of industries and job roles. 
The year's programming for the fellows included a women in business panel featuring alumnae professionals at varying stages of their careers, a private equity panel, and talks by representatives at 4170 Trading, DUMAC, and more.
Headshots of four 2020-2021 DFE Leadership Award winners

Celebrating Student Leaders

Four outstanding students received DFE's annual Leadership Award this spring. They differentiated themselves at Duke through their earnest pursuit of finance education and commitment to mentorship.
We invite you to read profiles of the winners, including videos in which they offer advice to younger students: Itamar Barak '21, Noah Karpel '21, Eric Little '21, and Hannah O'Sullivan '20.
Students studying in the Brodhead Center

New Student Resources

Our latest efforts to make finance education broadly accessible to Duke students took several forms this academic year.
Emma led the implementation of the STEM Advancement through Group Engagement program (SAGE) in Econ 101 classes starting in the spring semester. The program organizes proactive learning communities for students who opt for additional academic support. Participating students engage with the course material in small groups led by trained peer facilitators. The goal of bringing SAGE into Econ 101 is to foster interest in economics in students with no prior exposure and help them see it as a viable course of study.
We added new content to the DFE website, a guide to pursuing finance at Duke and a regularly updated page called Student to Student: Advice from Your Peers. Created to build students' awareness of the resources available to them, the guide to pursuing finance catalogs all of the ways they can prepare for finance careers from their first year at Duke to senior year. The Student to Student page features articles written by upperclassmen, including "How to Choose the 'Right' Major for Going into Finance" and "Four Ways to Manage Stress During the Internship" among several others.
In a year when staying connected was more important than ever, seniors gave back to DFE by holding virtual drop-in office hours for fellow students to ask questions about finance recruiting. Seniors Itamar Barak, Noah Karpel, and Eric Little (all of whom received the DFE Leadership Award) volunteered their time on a weekly basis in the spring semester, increasing DFE's advising capabilities and sharing the perspective of students who recently navigated interviews, internships, and job offers.
Student Feedback
From a sophomore in John's Global Capital Markets course:
Thank you so much for a great semester! I feel a lot more confident now when talking about the markets and reading the WSJ, and I specifically enjoyed learning about options. 
From a student who participated in the Wells Fargo Corporate Valuation Competition and the Goldman Sachs Trade Pitch Competition:
The competitions gave me the chance to better understand key processes like valuation, fundamental analysis, and buyout transactions, but I value them mostly because I learned these and many soft skills in a team, alongside my best friends.
From a student who attended the biweekly Diversity Reading Group this spring:
I love that you entice us to push back on our peers' comments and to challenge different idealogies. We understand our viewpoints best when we can argue their validity, and you do a wonderful job of prompting us to evaluate our beliefs by provoking instances of constructive disagreement.
From a high school student who took Emma's online courses, Irrational Behavior in Financial Decision-making and Personal Finance:
Enrolling in your courses has been an extraordinary experience. Learning in a collegiate environment from an extremely invested and dedicated professional has been something I couldn't even imagine. Never before had I felt so excited to "go to school" and sit on a one-hour Zoom call. 
Closeup of magnolia flower with Duke Chapel in the background

Our Thanks

Through this undeniably challenging year, we in DFE have been buoyed by the support of many individuals and organizations, including:

  • The DFE Steering Committee, under the leadership of Meggan Zabel '93

  • The DFE Student Advisory Committee

  • Our campus partners in the Alumni Association, Career Center, Continuing Education, Development, the Economics Department, Energy Initiative, Fuqua School of Business, Global Education Office, Law School, Nicholas School of the Environment, Pratt School of Engineering, Student Affairs, Student Wellness, and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Administration

  • Our 2020-2021 corporate sponsors: Bank of America, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo

  • Our dynamic alumni and parent supporters who gave guest lectures, mentored students, spoke on virtual panels, donated to DFE, offered innovative ideas and encouragement, and more.

    In gratitude, we wish you a terrific summer and warmly look forward to the next time we meet in person.
Duke Financial Economics Center circular logo and wordmark
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