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The Learning Opportunity of a Lifetime: Walking the NYSE Trading Floor
Jacqueline Keller

The Learning Opportunity of a Lifetime: Walking the NYSE Trading Floor

On Wednesday, January 30, with Long Winter Weekend just a few hours away, three Avonians traveled to New York City for the opportunity of a lifetime: being on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange as the closing bell was rung. And, this opportunity is thanks to the constantly working network of our far-reaching community.

“The journey began Monday morning when I received a text from my advisee's father, Andy Monin P’20,” explained Matt Proffitt. “A successful entrepreneur, connected businessman, and Clemson University graduate, Andy was helping coordinate the National Championship Clemson Football Team ringing the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange. He said ‘it was Wednesday or never,’ and needed my help getting his son Drew to New York to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Quickly, the task expanded to include getting two of Drew’s friends, Kolin Demens ’19 and James Wilborn ’21, to New York, too, as they were planning on spending the long weekend with the Monin family. And so, it became three students and a chaperone traveling to the Big Apple.

The boys saw the introduction, closing bell ceremony, comments after from Clemson President Jim Clements, met several players and members of the Clemson administration, and staff of the NYSE.

“Being in the presence of Clemson football players was a highlight for the boys,” shared Greer Monin P’20. “Jim Clements, the president of Clemson University, stated that the football players were selected for their academic and athletic success. He praised the players for giving their all to Clemson every single day, on and off the field. Each player gave a short speech expressing their gratitude to Clemson; for being able to play for them, for being able to earn a Clemson degree, and for being selected to ring the NYSE's closing bell. We are grateful that Drew, Kolin, and James witnessed their success and their speeches of gratitude.”

Greer Monin went on to say what an opportunity it was for her son and his friends to learn how the stock exchange works and about many of the companies who have a presence there, exposing them to different business careers that they had not thought about before the visit.

“Most rewarding of all were the historians on hand to explain to us all the significance of each step in the process, and the NYSE workers who were adding comments,” explained Proffitt. “It was an excellent experiential learning opportunity.”

It was a great day of exposure and networking, and certainly an experience none will forget.

“While yes, the three young men missed F period that day, I can only fathom the real learning that took place on the trading room floor that afternoon,” continued Proffitt. “I was so proud to see each of the three Avonians leaning into the experience, listening, engaging with their surrounding. After the closing bell ceremony we were able to go to the board room, and when the president of securities was sitting in a chair enjoying a drink, James Wilborn walked right up, introduced himself, and began spitballing with one of the biggest names in finance. It was incredible to watch as a coach and a mentor.”

Wilborn said that networking was top of mind for him: "The most exciting thing about the New York Stock Exchange was the energy in the room when all that money changed hands at the ringing of the bell and getting to meet a lot of new people. I spoke with several people during our visit, and hearing what they had to say about how far you can take this experience was great for me. It will be an event I will remember for a long time."

Post-graduate Demens also picked up on the culture of openness and willingness to help out young people at the Exchange.

“The most exciting part of the visit to NYSE was for sure being on the floor in the closing minutes of the workday, it was amazing to see some of those people work,” shared Kolin Demens ’19. “And I was impressed with the advice many of the employees were willing to share with us.”

Demens continued to say that he knew that he wanted to study business and marketing in college, but he now has a new profound love for the financial business.

“Being able to see how money is made in our world first hand was a true eye-opener,” he said.

As if getting on to the trading room floor at the New York Stock Exchange wasn’t enough, the group also got to spend time with Avon Old Farms Board Member and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs Stratford Dennis ’00.

In addition to this trip, Dennis has also hosted an Avon Intersession class at Goldman Sachs each year, offering students an opportunity to see what it was like to work in the field of global investment banking, securities, and investment management.

“Of all the institutions I am affiliated with, Avon is the closest to my heart - I want to do everything I can to help the school and the young men at Avon,” said Strat Dennis, who has worked at Goldman Sachs since 2004 and has served on Avon’s Board of Directors since 2010. “Having them experience this industry first-hand is an opportunity for me to introduce future generations to a business that can be incredibly rewarding, challenging, and intellectually stimulating. And, we always let the students know that we are resources for their future.”

Andy and Greer Monin quickly saw the value in the Avon alumni community.

“Stratford Dennis made a lasting impression on us and the boys,” shared Greer. “He is a successful, hard-working, humble person. He is a beautiful representation of Avon. Stratford took every opportunity he had to visit with Drew, Kolin, and James — he really wanted to get to know the boys. He gave the boys his perspective on Avon, reminisced with them about his days at Avon, and explained how their days at Avon will impact their future.”

“People always were there to help me find my path: Whether it was Mr. LaRocque, my college professors, or my coaches, there were people along the way who took an interest in my future,” Dennis explained. “Now I have the opportunity to do the same thing for those who are coming after me.”

“One of the key aspects of going to a good school is that you have a network of current students and alums to support you,” he said. “We [alumni] need to continue to remain active with Avon for today’s boys, and we need to do it for the school.”

The event was also covered by Greenville News.