Senior Claire Griffiths never expected to finish her final year at the University of Richmond online. Despite this unexpected change, Griffiths said she considered her four years at UR to be some of the best in her life and is thankful for every person who was part of them.
Currently, Griffiths is living with her parents in Geneva, Switzerland, and is one of the many students continuing to take their courses online despite the six-hour time difference, Griffiths said.
Until recently, Griffiths' father worked as a U.S. foreign diplomat, so she is used to living abroad, she said. Although Griffiths is a U.S. citizen, she had never been to the U.S. before college, Griffiths said.
“I very much did not want to go to college in the U.S., but my parents were kind of like, ‘You’re American, you’ve never lived there, and if you don’t go to college in the U.S. you’ll never experience what it’s like,’ and I’m very thankful that they pushed me,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths learned of UR through a woman working at the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique who was a UR alumna, Griffiths said. Griffiths applied and was admitted into the Richmond Scholars program as an Oldham Scholar, which she said really drew her to UR.
However, when she toured campus during the spring of her senior year in high school, she was not impressed, Griffiths said.
“The weather was horrible," Griffiths said. "It was snowing in April, and I was coming from sunny and beautiful Mozambique, and I was like ‘I’ll never go to school here.’ But on my third day on campus, I felt like I’d found a home here despite how dreary it seemed. I loved every interaction I had with the professors and other students, and even just walking around campus it started to feel like home.”
Griffiths will graduate with a major in business administration with a triple concentration in finance, economics and international business, and a minor in environmental studies. Her development as a student leader within the E. Clairborne Robins School of Business has been particularly memorable, and much of that she credits to Alpha Kappa Psi, a coed professional business fraternity.
Griffiths learned about the Student Managed Investment Fund through another student in AKPsi and served as its general manager during the 2019-2020 academic year. SMIF provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to acquire hands-on experience in securities analysis and portfolio management.
“It has just been the most incredible experience, especially considering that at the age of, like, 21 we can manage a couple hundred thousand dollars [of UR’s endowment]," Griffiths said. "That’s really crazy but it speaks very much to [UR’s] ability to help you grow and give you endless opportunities."
Griffiths’ achievements in college were further rewarded when she was named among Poets & Quants Best & Brightest in the Class of 2020 alongside fellow senior Hanna Lankler. The award designates them both as among the top 100 graduating undergraduate business students in the U.S.
“As soon as we got the email I got a FaceTime from [Lankler], and we were just sitting in bed screaming about it, so it was just like the perfect way to win an award with a friend,” Griffiths said.
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Griffiths will be working at the Flow Volatility Sales-Trading Desk at Barclays Investment Bank in New York beginning this summer, Griffiths said.
Griffiths said that the abruptness of the switch to remote learning had been challenging, especially since she was not sure when she would be able to return to the U.S. or UR.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my friends again, or even when our graduation’s going to be, and I didn’t get any goodbyes to people who have meant so much to me over these past four years," Griffiths said. "I think the fact that everything just happened over spring break and the fact that we just didn’t get any closure is the hardest.
“I would have hugged my friend one last time if I knew that, or grabbed that extra Lou’s meal or coffee with someone instead of worrying about a quiz or an essay."
This is the third installment of a four-part series to be published about graduating seniors.
Contact features writer Grace Kiernan at email@example.com.
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