A is for Amazon: Bridgeport teens learn about investing from Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business

A is for Amazon: Bridgeport teens learn about investing from Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business

Thirty-seven students from high schools in Bridgeport glimpsed Wall Street thanks to Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business. The students, mostly seniors taking investment and finance classes, were invited by Dolan School faculty to learn lessons in the dynamics of trading and the volatility of the stock market in Dolan's high-tech Business Education Simulation & Trading (BEST) classroom.

The state-of-the-art BEST classroom offers students a chance to make simulated real time transactions, and mirrors what one would encounter working on a stock trading floor. It boasts a streaming ticker, big board showcasing gains and losses, multi-purpose PCs that function as trading terminals and software used on Wall Street.

"This is a dynamic environment that gives the students a real world experience," said Dr. Susan Spivack, who teaches business magnet classes at Bassick High School. "It also introduces the world of finance and investments to them, something they may not have considered pursuing."

Norm Solomon, Ph.D., Dean of the Dolan School, said that he considers Dolan faculty and students, let alone the BEST classroom, great resources. "I'm pleased that we can be of service to the Bridgeport Public Schools, and help introduce and excite the school system's students about investing with experiential learning. This classroom has cutting edge technology that helps prepare our students for a variety of careers in business. We are glad to share a glimpse of the modern digital trading floor to students from the community."

The scene in the classroom was lively. Students sat glued to computers, taking in Reuters News Service stories, making graphs and studying charts to pick stocks. Divided into teams, the students bought stocks and watched the big board.

Michael T. Tucker, D.B.A., professor of finance for the Dolan School, advised the students to consider real world events, such as the Democrats taking control of the House and Senate, when considering oil company-related trades.

Chantel Bholanath, a senior at Central High School, eyed her stock picks: The Gap, Nike, Dell and Disney. "This is giving me an adrenaline rush," she said, noting one of her stocks was up big. "It looks complicated but I think I can get used to it."

Fairfield alumnus Jerry McNamara, '83, who now works for UBS, was only too happy to return to campus to share his views on what a financial career entails. "I grew up in the Bronx," said McNamara, managing director of institutional trading in UBS's municipal bond department. "I'm a trader now, and these students are from the inner-city; it is a good match for me. I just want to tell them that a career in finance is possible."

Meanwhile, Dolan School students, including undergrad Shawn Galvin, also helped out, offering tips and moral support. All the while, Bridgeport teens learned a new language. In the marketplace, Exxon is known as 'XOM,' 'AMLN' is short for Amazon.com, and 'SPLS' stands for Staples.

Paris Gaynor, a student at Central High School, observed, "This looks like a real stock market." When asked what attracted her to the sophisticated business classes, she laughed, "I like money, but I also see it as a possible career for me. It's fun to watch these stocks go up and down, but it probably wouldn't be so fun if I had invested real money." Christina Xayarath, who attends Bassick High School, was happy to be in this 'new cool environment." "It is a totally new environment for me, both inside this room and just looking outside. It makes me ambitious."

Profits and losses to mock portfolios didn't matter much to organizers, though. "It's great to be here," said Dr. Spivack. "Anything that helps students, we will jump on."

Posted On: 11-14-2006 10:11 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 88