Student Spotlight: Catherine Cheng

Majors: Canfield BHP, Finance, Certificate of Computer Science

Company: Evercore Investment Banking – Manhattan

Position: Summer Investment Banking Analyst – Mergers and Acquisitions

Topics of Interest: Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Venture Capital

Class: Senior, Class of 2020

Catherine Cheng is a rising senior who’s excited for her final year in college. Throughout her first three years at UT, she focused on the University Securities Investment Team (USIT) – a finance organization out of the McCombs School of Business where she is the sitting president. Next year, she plans on starting a new internal USIT division focused on market intelligence where the topics of computer and data science will integrate with the more traditional aspects of finance – an integration that she and her peers at USIT have long asked for. Catherine and her team hope to establish this new division at USIT for the benefit of future generations and enable students of all majors to learn and pursue their interests in quantitative finance and data science.

Additionally, Catherine has been an active member of the Genesis Program – a student alumni effort to help student entrepreneurs raise capital at UT – where she currently serves as Due Diligence Partner. Catherine explains that she’s always been interested in finance and more specifically, venture-capital. “That’s basically what my journey has been like here at McCombs. I’m focusing on finance but more specifically, helping student entrepreneurs. Going into senior year, I’m actually really excited to have slightly fewer classes because it means I’m going to have more time to give back to both the finance and entrepreneurship communities.”

When Catherine made her college decision, she wrote an op-ed piece for the student-run publication “FreshU” titled, ‘Why I Rejected MIT’, and if you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to do so. Catherine discusses her reasons for deciding on Canfield BHP at UT versus the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It’s a wonderfully-refreshing look behind a student’s indecision between two outstanding programs and the process of elimination. I wanted to talk to her about her thoughts behind this piece and more.

I read your article on “FreshU” and thought it was wonderful. Now that your junior year is practically over and you’ve spent three years at UT and Canfield BHP, how do you feel about your decision to come here? What have been your takeaways so far?

This is a question my parents actually ask me a lot because they weren’t the biggest fans of my decision. Of course, I have a deep love for both universities, and I continue to believe both schools are absolutely amazing – that’s why the choice was so difficult for me. At the end of the day, though, my answer has always been that I think coming to UT is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I think the reason why I say that is because I have met a group of incredible people who are passionate about business here and that’s what I came to college to learn more about.

The community aspect has really driven it home for me. Between the team that I found at USIT and Genesis and through the Canfield Business Honors Program, I’ve met so many incredible people who are all doing incredible things that they’re really passionate about. It’s really inspiring and I think that’s the best part about UT. I’ve also had the chance to interact with students studying engineering and computer science through Genesis. Since there are so many students here, it means the opportunities are really endless, and you can go wherever your heart desires. Having the opportunity to be more hands-on with my learning is crucial – whether that’s through extracurriculars or internships.

Austin is also a great place to be because there are so many technical and finance firms around this region. It affords you the opportunity to go work at one of these firms during the semester and start making connections in the community. I’ve met some great mentors along the way simply doing that.

Being honest, though, I haven’t read or thought about the article in a long time. That said, it will still sometimes come up in conversation. I am just happy that others have been inspired to think more about their college decision as a result. I think I made the right decision for me and know my experiences at UT so far reflect that. I found my family in USIT and Genesis, represented McCombs at various national competitions, gave back through research and teaching assistant positions, and have the fortune of pursuing a career I am excited by. The actual reasoning of the article matters less than its more general message – sometimes the best decision isn’t necessarily the easy decision or the one chosen by others.

What did you experience at Discover Canfield BHP that helped push you over the proverbial “edge”?

It was hearing the experiences of current students. I remember a panel event where they featured six current Canfield BHP students from different backgrounds and their experiences at UT. I remember one of the students went to New York Fashion Week as an editor and another went on a cruise for half a year just visiting numerous different countries. It was incredibly refreshing knowing that despite being joined by their interest in business, they were all pursuing different things and driven by different passions and motivations. Canfield BHP has a lot of very diverse people and everyone has their own story, which is something that I have really grown to appreciate.

I also loved being able to meet some of the faculty members. The faculty here is incredibly impressive and I can’t believe we get access to them. Specifically, I remember observing a mock business ethics class ran by Dr. Prentice. Dr. Prentice is incredibly passionate about ethics and business law, areas that I’ve always been interested in, so just hearing him talk about philosophy was really engaging and inspiring.

What aspects of the faculty do you appreciate?

Honestly, there are so many things. For one, they do incredible research. But I think the more important part of it for me is the fact that they care so much about the students. For example, a lot of the Canfield BHP professors will host dinners at their house or come to social events. Professor Konana does that, Dr. Prentice does that, and a lot of other professors do the same thing. I also love that when they’re teaching class, they always try to make it meaningful from an engagement perspective. That’s not to say that they just rely on cold calling people. Instead, they try to inspire discussion about sometimes very controversial or sometimes very tricky subjects to deal with. Everyone’s going to have a different opinion on how a business case should be handled or how an ethics issue should be resolved. Hearing them facilitate these discussions; that’s the reason why I like going to these classes.

On her advice for current students, Catherine encourages students to be open to all opportunities and make sure to evaluate all of them seriously. She explained that any college or major you consider deserves a fair chance to stand on its own. Additionally, she encourages you to “talk to as many people as you can. Whether they’re professors, current students, or alumni, talk to as many people as you can to get their perspective on things and learn from their experiences because often times it’s the people at that particular school that will shape your experience.” Most importantly, she stands by her belief that when it comes to choosing a college or major, it is difficult to make a wrong decision. If you work hard and approach things with enthusiasm and passion, you’ll be a success on whatever path you end up taking.

Catherine will be traveling to New York City over the summer where she’ll be working as a Summer Investment Banking Analyst at Evercore Partners in Manhattan. Interestingly, Catherine is a foodie! She explained that she’s a foodie in the sense that she likes eating food but doesn’t necessarily blog about it. She says, “I’m very excited to go back and just enjoy the city more. Downtime will be limited but I’ll make do.”

Student Spotlight: Nivva Emmi


Majors: Canfield BHP, Finance, Pre-Med

Company: Apple

Position: Americas Operations Intern – Austin, TX

Topics of Interest: Healthcare Administration and Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mental Health, Biotechnology

Your time in college can be challenging but it can also be a wonderful time of self-exploration. You find out who you are and what you want to achieve during this time. The chance to explore what goals you want to achieve in life and how you can reach them makes these years especially crucial. With access to so many student organizations, it’s easy to find yourself planning about how in the world you’re going to be in so many different places at once and whether or not you have the time to commit to all of them equally. It’s a slippery slope that often leads to burnout and exhaustion. The important thing to remember is that you’re human and your time here is finite. This makes it doubly important that you prioritize what you want to achieve so you can do so with purpose and avoid the pitfalls that come with doing too many things at once.

We caught up with Nivva Emmi recently to talk about this and her aspirations. Between prioritizing goals and also having time to give back to her community in tangible ways, Nivva has dedicated herself to helping other people as much as she can. Nivva is a sophomore (soon to be Junior) majoring in Canfield BHP, Finance, and she’s also Pre-Med. Nivva isn’t just someone who is interested in the world of Canfield BHP, Finance, and Pre-Med as separate categories. Rather, she is someone who is deeply invested in the synergy found between them and the role they play in the lives of others.

She is intrigued, for instance, by how healthcare administration and management, and quality of care is affected when two health institutions merge. “I’m really interested in the merging of healthcare institutions in business and how in the future, business is going to be increasingly more integral.” Nivva believes that mergers between healthcare institutions are going to be increasingly prevalent, especially in the next decade. She adds that she loves being on the healthcare fund of the University Securities Investment team and learning about how all the different pharmaceutical (pharma) and biotech companies are competing in the general market. “Different things like new technologies and new medicines– they’re coming up with how the market perceives that and also how already tied-in business is with medicine in terms of just providing basic health care for patients while also trying to make a profit. It’s a very interesting line that’s being walked.”

How do you walk the line between business and ethics in the healthcare industry? It’s a topic of much debate, especially in today’s political climate on health care, which has spread all over the world. Particularly, developing countries such as India where Nivva explains she has lost so many loved ones to easily preventable diseases and accidents. These experiences have inspired Nivva to eventually pursue medical school where she hopes to solidify her clinical experience and delve into the clinical aspect of healthcare administration. Ultimately, she aspires to become a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) one day.

During our conversation about her goals, a common theme started to emerge. Without taking credit, Nivva talked about the ways she has helped people throughout her involvement in volunteer organizations and how she will continue to help people in the future – even when it doesn’t directly benefit her. Highlighting her volunteer work is a stellar list of student organizations Nivva has been involved with. This includes the Undergraduate Business Council (UBC), Kappa Rho – a pre-med honors society, the Healthcare Fund of the University Securities and Investment Team, External Affairs Committee of the HBA, Texas Spirits, and the Community Service Committee. Recently, Nivva has also served as the Fall Case Chair. Beyond that, Nivva has chaired McCombs Next Top Talent and will be serving as the Vice President of UBC in the fall. In addition, she is also in charge of the President’s round table which takes place on a monthly basis. Nivva is also involved in other smaller projects that she is passionate about and explains why she enjoys helping others, “I was involved in a lot of community service in high school, and not because it looked good on my resume – I know that’s a big reason – but I just really have a passion for turning around and helping people. That’s directly linked to my career goals.”

In some instances, Nivva explained she realized early on she had joined many organizations she wasn’t passionate about and started to feel like they were becoming a chore or work, a feeling that she never wanted to experience about another organization again. Volunteering and giving back is something Nivva is passionate about but she also understands that she is human, “I realize that I have to balance my time. I can’t be in everything.”

On her thoughts regarding how to decide on your priorities in relation to your goals, Nivva mentioned that you need to “have a reason and intention behind all of your actions, have a reason and intention behind the decisions you make and have courage in those decisions. Be malleable and accommodating with whatever you might decide on and understand that your interests and passions might change along the way.”

Witnessing her peers becoming increasingly involved as well and the toll that having too much on your plate can have on one’s psyche, Nivva became somewhat of a mental health advocate. “I do understand that it all sounds very overwhelming. If I weren’t in a good mental place it would be very hard to balance all of the different things that I’m interested in. It’s very ironic because I say all these things but if I’m not taking care of my own mental health, how can I be an advocate for it? It’s something that I had to work through most of my freshman year, especially going to my sophomore year. The biggest thing I took away from that is to not be ashamed of when you are having mental health problems. Realize that it’s completely normal, that everyone is going through these things and then equally; to be vocal about it and reach out when you need help and equally; have good support networks.”

This summer Nivva will be interning with Apple’s Americas Operations team in Austin. She’ll also be studying to do well on her MCAT. To alleviate some of the stresses of studying and work, Nivva looks forward to spending some quality time with her family in Houston on the weekends as well as going to some local music showcases in Austin in her spare time.

Student Spotlight: Megan Tran-Olmsted

Megan Tran-Olmsted

Written by Allison Cowie

As college progresses, students realize that grades are temporary while the impact of service lasts forever. Senior Business Honors and Finance major Megan Tran-Olmsted definitely understood this as she went into her final year and has found numerous ways to give back to the program. Megan has represented Canfield BHP well, placing in multiple stock pitch competitions across the country, serving as a mentor for Wall Street for McCombs, and creating the curriculum for USIT, McCombs’s largest student-run investment team. Megan loves being able to teach others and seeing topics “click” for younger students. Helping younger students find and grow their passions is Megan’s way of paying it forward in respect to those who have helped her succeed. In honor of her contributions to McCombs and Canfield BHP, Megan recently received the prestigious R. Conrad Doenges Award for Academic Excellence and Leadership in the Canfield BHP.

Megan also serves as the co-chair of the Make-A-Mark campaign, which aims to bring the senior class together one last time prior to graduation. The campaign creates fellowship in addition to educating students on the importance of giving back as they transition into alumni. The first campaign event was held at El Mercado in March and many students attended and reminisced about past classes, funny stories, and even dreaded projects. As Canfield BHP students start specializing and pursuing their passions at UT, some find it hard to make time to catch up with peers, but Make-A-Mark events help remind everyone of the bond they all share.

While spearheading such a large campaign can be challenging, Megan recognizes the generous support she has received from Canfield BHP that has helped make her time at UT so impactful. In her eyes, contributing her time and effort to Make-A-Mark is her way of passing along the good fortune that the program has given her to future Canfield BHP students.

Upon wrapping up Make-A-Mark and her time at UT, Megan will spend a month backpacking through Europe before starting full-time at Goldman Sachs. Her final words of advice for younger students are, “Before jumping down a path, take the time to find out what you want in life and then consider how to achieve it.” The Canfield Business Honors Program is thankful for all of Megan’s contributions and is excited to see what she accomplishes in the future.

Student Spotlight: Dallas Killeen

Dallas Killeen

Written by William Acheampong

Senior Dallas Killeen is wrapping up his degrees in Business Honors, Plan II, and English Honors. During his four years at UT, Dallas made the most of his opportunities as a McCombs student. After his freshman year, he attended a faculty-led program to Hong Kong where he learned about supply chain management firsthand. While on the trip, Dallas visited a Target store in Pflugerville, a distribution center in Midlothian, and the Port of Los Angeles to see Target’s supply chain from beginning to end. Once in Hong Kong, he and the other students took a trip to mainland China to visit factory facilities. Reflecting on his experience in Hong Kong, Dallas recalls his time in the summer program as an immersive, experiential learning opportunity where he developed meaningful relationships with both other students and his professors. Although Dallas thoroughly enjoyed his summer in Hong Kong, his desire to continue his studies while exploring the world still lingered. During his junior year, Dallas decided to study abroad for the second time. This time Dallas spent the semester abroad in Madrid, Spain, where he took a handful of marketing courses. Living by the motto, “when in Spain, do as the Spanish do, and speak Spanish,” Dallas also took a number of Spanish classes to deepen his understanding of the Romance language.

When Dallas is in Austin, he is busy with a handful of student organizations, such as Texas Blazers and the Undergraduate Business Council (UBC). As a freshman looking for a welcoming community to call his own, Dallas joined UBC, a community of McCombs students who serve as representatives of the McCombs School of Business to create a better environment and improve the education of all business students. Now in his final semester on the council, Dallas serves as Traditions Chair, which allows him to plan events that further cultivate the close-knit UBC community. Similarly, Dallas is a member of Texas Blazers, an honorary service, leadership, and spirit organization devoted to serving The University of Texas at Austin. As a Texas Blazer, Dallas is an official host of the university and a mentor to students at Eastside Memorial High School.

Many of Dallas’ campus involvements pertain to service, leadership, and community-building. Naturally, during his junior year, Dallas became a Canfield BHP Peer Mentor, a role that allows him to mentor a group of freshman CBHP students during their first semester on the Forty Acres. A year later, Dallas is still a peer mentor and decided to take a second group of freshman under his wing. Through this role, Dallas has shared his experiences in order to inspire confidence and show students that they belong in McCombs just as much as anyone else. For Dallas, the most satisfying part of the job is being able to watch his mentees tackle the world on their own. Whenever Dallas ends a semester with his mentees, he reminds them to develop their own metric of success and to blaze their own trail during their time at UT.

Intern Spotlight: Janelly Areche

Written by Carrie Cruces

Janelly Areche

Majors: Business Honors, Management Information Systems, Plan II Honors

Position: Project Supervisor

Company: Amigos de las Americas

Topics: Work abroad, Nonprofit, Presentation Skills

Jannelly Areche is a Canfield BHP sophomore from Houston, Texas, who is also majoring in Plan II and Management Information Systems (MIS). She recently had the opportunity to intern with Amigos de las Americas in Costa Rica during her freshman summer in 2018. Amigos de las Americas is a nonprofit organization with 25 chapters across the U.S. Its mission is to inspire positive change in communities around the world by leading collaborative community development programs and cross-cultural immersion experiences typically over the summer and gap years. She felt challenged by the experience from the moment she arrived in Costa Rica, when she found herself leaving the airport with only an email of instruction on how to arrive at the Staff House three hours away. She had to backpack from one community to another every day as she worked with the local nonprofit Casa de la Juventud, which focused on sustainable projects in Latin America.

As Project Supervisor, she was in charge of preparing the community for the volunteers’ arrival and conducting bilingual trainings and workshops for them once they arrived. She visited all 50 volunteers every weekday to provide emotional and health support and to monitor their progress in the community-led project, stepping in to assist with problem-solving when necessary. On the weekends, she would lead camp retreats to different communities around the province, which consisted of working on projects and engaging in workshops that the community would choose. “My favorite part of the program was the weekends,” she shared. “It encouraged a blend of cultures because each participant needed to invite a local youth from their host communities to join them.”

The final project: a playground in El Pilar

Jannelly credits her freshman honors classes with preparing her for this internship, particularly the professional communication class (B A 324H), which developed her communication and presentation skills. She says she constantly used them throughout her internship when speaking to community members and leading meetings. B A 324H provided her with the opportunity to practice presenting constantly, which boosted her confidence when speaking in front of an entire community during a large community dinner.

Jannelly offers the following advice for current and prospective students: “Coming into this large university, it can be daunting to see all of the different paths you can take. Especially being in a business school, you might feel pressured to get an internship in the corporate world. While it is great to get business experience, it is not necessary. In the words of Marie Kondo, you should choose your involvement based on what sparks joy. Do not feel forced to take on a role because of how professional it sounds. Choose your involvement because of how much you genuinely enjoy doing the work, the impact it has on the community, and the opportunities for growth.”

Outside of class, Jannelly is involved in various organizations on campus, such as the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), Student Government, Orange Jackets, and 180 Degrees Consulting, which she says help her create a positive impact in her community. In addition to her involvement in these organizations, she holds a leadership role in ALPFA as their Service Outreach Director. In this role, Jannelly hosts service events with a variety of nonprofits around Austin with the goal of encouraging ALPFA members to identify which causes are important to them and providing them opportunities to do so.