Photo above: Dr. Emiliano Guidici and President Jason Matyszczyk discussing agenda items for the next club meeting.
By Craig Kouba
Intern, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
Every other Wednesday, on the third floor of the Nelson Rusche College of Business at Stephen F. Austin State University, you can smell the pizza drifting down the halls. The source of the distractionis the SFA Finance Club, a university-sponsored extracurricular function for Lumberjack finance majors. The club was founded by the coordinated efforts offinance students and Dr. Todd Brown in hopes of creating a close-knit group of advanced business students at the University.
Although Dr. Brown, now interim dean of the College of Business, was responsible for bringing the finance club into existence, the reins have been passed several times since then, first to Dr. Kevin Jones and then to the current advisor, Dr. Emiliano Guidici. Dr. Guidici earned his degree in engineering and then obtained a doctorate in finance from the University of Texas-Pan American. He has been a finance professor at SFA since 2008, and the faculty advisor for the finance club since 2010. He hopes that the club will serve not only as an outlet to provide students with extracurricular learning experiences, but also as a platform for young business professionals of the same major to form friendships that can lead to study interaction throughout the semesters, since most members share the same classes.
Having that prior connection with other students of the same major also makes it easy for students to work with each other on projects and group assignments in their courses.
“What is most rewarding is being able to promote student extracurricular activities that facilitate the formation of a network between current students and graduates of our program who are already in the workforce,“ Guidici said.
The finance club offers students a chance to begin implementing the knowledge they are gaining in their courses in “real-world” situations. Members meet together to discuss opportunities that range from hosting lunch for business students to maintaining programs like the student financial services department.
In the Fall 2014 semester, members undertook a project to create a presentation on financial literacy and teach it to younger students in the community. They presented the material at Nacogdoches High School and to lower level entry classes at SFA. The purpose of this effort was to promote fiscal thinking among their peers, increase financial literacy among the student body, and get involved in the Nacogdoches community.
Ryan Swor, a senior who will graduate this May, has been a member of the club for over two years now. “It’s a good way to interact with other finance majors here at SFA and help in the local community,” he said.
Some of the other academic opportunities the club has been able to offer its students are trips to local or even large businesses to get a first-hand look at how the financial sector operates. Last year, one project included a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, TX. There, students spent time interacting with economists to gain a better understanding of operations within the Federal Reserve.
Aside from academic endeavors, the club also functions as a way to organize social events for the members to promote interaction among the students, with the intention of developing networking ties amongst students that will be maintained long after graduation. Senior Mike Vance and junior George Elking meet every Wednesday after lunch to discuss upcoming assignments and job leads following graduation.
On this particular Wednesday, the president of the finance club, Jason Matyszczyk, addresses the members and begins the agenda. Matyszczyk has used his spring term to organize guest speakers for the finance club, educate new members, organize social and academic activities and set up a LinkedIn page for the club.
“Being president has definitely been a rewarding experience," Matyszczyk said. "We are trying to get students involved in the workforce. Our students are the future of the financial workforce so we’re trying to get them prepared to enter it.”
Guidici and the finance department at SFA have done an excellent job of offering their students yet another way work with their peers and and increase their practical job skills in a small group setting.