Market makers

Alumnus and students collaborate on finance for the future.

Jennifer Wagner
July 26, 2021

Budding genetic scientists at Exeter turn to BIO586: Molecular Genetics to do advanced lab work. Aspiring attorneys enroll in HIS 533: Law and American Society for face time with social justice practitioners. For fledging financiers, there’s now MAT 690: Mathematical Finance, a new project-based course developed by Miguel Shetreet ’20 and Harrison He ’20 that teaches both the practical — how to read a P&L sheet and calculate cash flow — and the complex; say, how to develop a capital asset pricing model or predict a return on a stock portfolio.

“As a co-head and member of many business clubs when I was on campus, I knew that there were many students who would love to take a mathematical finance class,” says Shetreet, who is studying global business at Trinity College Dublin. “It was a hunger for knowledge in the finance area that inspired me to co-write the syllabus and introduce a new class.”

A key part of the course’s design was to connect students with professionals in the field. Shetreet and He imagined a visit to a hedge fund or attendance at a business conference. Of course, due to COVID pandemic guidelines, such off-campus excursions weren’t possible this year. Luckily, Math Instructor Gayatri Ramesh had a workaround — Zoom.

When considering whom to invite to virtual class, Ramesh immediately thought of fintech entrepreneur and Trustee Wole Coaxum ’88; P’24. “I knew that his company, Mobility Capital Finance, is doing a lot for underserved communities and I wanted students to know where he comes from and what all he and his company are doing,” she says.

>>  Read about Mobility Capital Finance in Forbes

“When Gayatri reached out to me in the spring of 2021 and asked that I participate, it was an easy yes,” Coaxum says. “The chance to work with students and be a sounding board for their ideas represents the core spirit of non sibi — specifically, helping the next generation of innova-tors hone their skills and ideas.”

Coaxum joined two classes led by Math Instructors Brandon Hew and John Mosley. During each session, Coaxum offered invaluable real-world advice and direction. “He was so enthusiastic throughout class, and the students eagerly asked [so many] questions I had to put a hard stop after an hour just to be mindful of everyone’s time,” Ramesh recalls. “He has the ability to inspire young minds and it was a joy to see him not as a financier or entrepreneur but as a teacher.”

For his part, Coaxum says: “The session where each team discussed their projects was especially exciting. Their concepts addressed real-world problems ranging from helping people understand how the interest on their mortgages is calculated to using big data to price assets. It’s encouraging to see students bring a multidisciplinary approach to solving real-world problems. I love it. These are the same tools that I have used in my career over the years.”

Students such as Christina Xiao ’21 truly appreciated learning from an alum. “I felt more connected to the school after Mr. Coaxum spoke with us, especially as a graduating senior,” Xiao says. “He is a role model for life after Exeter, outside of the Exeter bubble I have been growing inside for the past four years. He took what he had learned throughout his time here to find success, while improving the communities around him, which is a perfect example of non sibi. … The class was a highlight of my senior spring!”

Unfortunately, Shetreet and He graduated before their course was added to the schedule, but they are happy to learn it has been a success. “It feels great to know,” Shetreet says, “that I made an impact on the students who took the class this year and those who may in the future.”  

This article first appeared in the summer 2021 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.