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2013 Stories

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Aug 1, 2013

Wall Street success with some alumni networking help

J.P. Kril ('13), business major, Radnor, Pa.

Rachel Dawson ('13)

J.P. Kril ('13), Goldman Sachs VP Alpha Kiflu ('05) and Goldman Sachs analyst Justin Quaglia ('11)
Goldman Sachs VP Alpha Kiflu ('05), center, mentored Goldman Sachs analyst Justin Quaglia ('11), right, who offered up his sofa for the summer to Barclays intern (and now newest hire), J.P. Kril ('13).

As May 2013 graduate J.P. Kril settles into his chair at a desk at Barclays, a Wall Street investment firm, he knows he is ready to give back and become a part of an alumni network that helped him reach his dream job.

A finance major from Radnor, Pa., Kril graduated as president of JMU's Madison Investment Fund and had a Wall Street job waiting for him after graduation. He is confident, well-spoken and passionate about finance.

Yet, the odds were not always in his favor.

Kril transferred to JMU from Elon after his first year of college, losing valuable class credits when he did.

His family faced adversity and became financially unable to support the college educations of both Kril and his younger sister. Determined, Kril refused to let financial challenges end his education. He pursued help from those around him.

Kril shared his story with his JMU professors and was eventually connected to the financial aid office. He received a Madison Forever Scholarship, reserved for students with rare and difficult circumstances like his. The Madison Forever Scholarship program allowed Kril to remain at JMU, yet he didn't rely on financial aid alone. He also worked 25 to 40 hours a week at a local retail store.

The pressure of his circumstances and his work load affected his G.P.A., and Kril realized that test taking wasn't his strongest suit. He studied harder and reached out to faculty members and immersed himself in working with peers in the student-led Madison Investment Fund.

Student leaders in the fund manage a portion of JMU's endowment in the stock market, according to Kril. Students can climb the ranks of Madison Investment Fund and learn from peers as they work as junior analysts to senior analysts, to associate portfolio managers to portfolio managers, and then potentially to the management team led by the president of MIF.

'I do have the intellectual capacity to succeed, but it was student peers, professors and alumni who pushed me through and gave me opportunities and opened doors for me.'

"I really enjoyed being a part of MIF because it was something that encouraged thinking outside of the box," Kril says. When Kril transferred to JMU, Justin Quaglia ('11) served as president of the Madison Investment Fund. Kril connected with Quaglia instantly and told him his story. Kril knew he had the skills and drive to excel, even though on paper he didn't have the high G.P.A. required of MIF members.

"I wouldn't be in MIF if it wasn't for Justin," says Kril. "It's basically a microcosm of how my success has been replicated. I do have the intellectual capacity to succeed, but it was student peers, professors and alumni who pushed me through and gave me opportunities and opened doors for me."

Kril was accepted into MIF, and worked his way up through the ranks to become the president after three years as a member. Quaglia, now an analyst at Wall Street's Goldman Sachs Group, became Kril's mentor.

With the help of both Quaglia and finance professor Elias Semaan, Kril also has connected with numerous alumni across the country.

Madison Investment Fund adviser Elias Semaan and J.P. Kril ('13)
Madison Investment Fund adviser Elias Semaan is "like a father figure to the organization" says Kril.

Quaglia connected Kril with one of his own mentors, Alpha Kiphul ('04), a former Madison Investment Fund president, who helped Kril make it through the rounds of interviews to land a summer internship at Barclays. Quaglia knew of Kril's financial situation, so he opened his home to him for the summer.

"I was representing JMU, and I had to make sure I wasn't going to embarrass any JMU people, especially the people who referred me," Kril says. "After the internship, I ended up getting a job offer. It's unique because they created it for me. It's not very common for an undergrad to go into wealth or investment management or portfolio management. What they're doing for me is making this huge special case."

His hard work has paid off, and he is the first to give credit back to the alumni and professors who helped him on his successful path.

"When I first met J.P., I remember seeing a true passion deep within him and all I needed to do was give him a bat and teach him how to swing," Quaglia says. "I know J.P. will further the 'pay it forward mentality.'"

Kril compares the Madison Investment Fund to what Barclays is on Wall Street. "MIF is small but it's growing, and it's growing fast like the JMU alumni base on Wall Street."

Madison Investment Fund adviser Elias Semaan has been a valuable resource according to Kril. "He's the glue that holds everything together. He's the one providing guidance, he's the one saying 'look, you still have to do this.' He is the first one to congratulate you and applaud your success, and he is the first one to point out flaws and areas to improve. He's almost like a father figure to the organization."

As Kril settles into his position at Barclays he says he wants to "pay it forward." I want to continue the legacy of Madison Investment Fund alumni being mentors to JMU students and emulate the many alumni and professors who helped me reach my dream."

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