The University Network

Sarah Lawrence Student Club Funds New Scholarships For First Time

A student-run investment club at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, has just funded two scholarships for the first time.

It’s always encouraging to hear about students helping other students, but this story from Sarah Lawrence College in New York is especially heartwarming during this holiday season.

The investment club Gryphon Capital Management was founded in 2014 by three students — Alexander Wah, ‘19, Mat Gerak, ‘17, and Cameron Carpenter, ‘19 — who sought to fill a financial literacy gap in their education.

“Gryphon Capital Management was founded with the purpose of helping students like myself fill a gap in my education by creating something new and valuable to the community,” said Wah, president of Gryphon Capital Management.

Helping other people achieve what they wanted through this group was the main driver in its creation.

The scholarship, which was announced on September 4, called for existing full-time Sarah Lawrence students to submit an anonymous essay on why their Sarah Lawrence experience has been “meaningful” to them.

“The club decided to fund scholarships to give back to the community that brought us all together and allowed us to flourish,” said Carpenter, vice president of Gryphon Capital Management.

The fund had intended to award one scholarship in the amount of $1,000, but decided to award two scholarships of the same amount instead.

“Gryphon Capital Management always wanted to give scholarships back to the community because we believed that this was the right thing to do,” said Wah. “When we significantly outperformed the market, and this became even more feasible than before, we decided to fund two of these.”

Background

The club started with an initial capital investment of $6,000, funded by Sarah Lawrence alumni “who had gone on to have careers in the finance industry,” said Carpenter.

The initial capital was secured with the help of the head of the school’s Board of Trustees, according to Wah.

“We made an investors’ pitch outlining the investment strategy we used to manage a fake portfolio, and showed how we had outperformed the market using that,” said Wah. “Inside the pitch we also included proposed activities that we would use some capital to do, and it was capped off by personal stories about what Gryphon Capital Management meant to each of the current members.”

The club is run solely by students, and has no faculty adviser.

The club’s leaders spend about 10 hours of the week working on group activities in a typical week, but put in more hours when they are preparing for important group events such as workshops, events featuring guest speakers, and trips aimed at bridging the gap between the academic and professional world.

More Scholarships to Come

The club plans on awarding one scholarship each year going forward as a way of redistributing its successes and filling the gaps other students at the school may have, said Wah.

“Funding scholarships means using our group’s success to help our peers achieve academic success,” said Carpenter.

It is the greatest investment we could possibly make, as it is an investment in our community, and our society at large.

“I think it is incredible that we are able to give something back to the school and community that have given us so much,” said Samuel O’Brient, ‘18, who serves as director of recruitment and head of publicity of Gryphon Capital Management. “I love the work that we do and it is great to see that others can benefit from it. As a group, we have always been focused on helping others and seeing these scholarships awarded is a great reminder of that.”

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Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.