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Scholarship competition helps students hone critical planning skills

05/05/2015

Two UA business majors are the winners of the 2015 “Planning Makes a Difference” scholarship competition — sponsored by Northwestern Mutual and developed in partnership with the university.

Receiving a $3,000 scholarship for first place was James Dawson of Canal Fulton, who is majoring in corporate finance with a minor in business information systems. Receiving a $2,000 scholarship for second place was Cinara Foor of Green, a financial planning major.

Christopher Petsko


Participants in the competition partnered with and learned from financial planning professionals to gain insight into their chosen career path. They created comprehensive financial plans tailored to a hypothetical young married couple that took into account a variety of factors — household budget, homeownership, children and retirement goals. The plans were presented in late April to a panel of judges that included certified financial professionals, educators and others.

Career opportunities

“Research shows that two-thirds of Americans don’t have a long-term financial plan in place and seven out of 10 don’t have a financial advisor, so there is a growing need for these students’ comprehensive financial planning expertise,” said Ray Latiano, managing director with Northwestern Mutual’s Canton office and a member of the Dean’s Advancement Council for UA’s College of Business Administration. “This competition took students out of the classroom and gave them a first-hand look at the career opportunities that exist after graduation and the difference they can make in people’s lives.”  

Notes Suzanne Gradisher, assistant professor of business law and competition coordinator, “It is real-world know-how that sets students apart as they prepare to join today’s workforce. I’m grateful that, in partnership with Northwestern Mutual, we were able to provide students with this educational opportunity to hone critical planning skills needed to help people create a strategy for financial security. And it wasn’t just the scholarship recipients who benefited. The quality of work was among the best I have seen in my years of teaching.”