Spotlight on Talent: Brianna Robbins



By: Lexie Ermi

Brianna Robbins is a senior at Haverford College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her illustrious athletic career and her stellar academic performance led to an internship after her junior year of college which has provided her with a job offer. Her future secure for the time being, an advantage not extended to many in the current job market, she took a few minutes to reflect on how she got to this position.

Growing up in Orchard Park, a suburb outside of Buffalo, NY, Brianna's involvement in sports began at an early age. briannarobbins2Thus, upon her arrival to Haverford, a transition into the athletic field was natural. She joined both the women's varsity lacrosse team and the women's varsity basketball team. "I really enjoyed being on a team. I'm naturally very competitive. It was great coming into college with a network of friends too, and having that group for all four years. It was a great experience. My basketball team won the Centennial Conference for the first time ever and that was a night I'll never forget. We got to cut down the net and everything." Being able to work on a team as a collaborative effort served her well in her later endeavors.

Brianna's major in college was economics with a minor in philosophy. When asked about her unique choice, she explained, "I was really encouraged to embrace the liberal arts education here at Haverford. I found it enjoyable to go from a logical, rational economics class to a philosophy class where you think more outside the box and more abstractly." At Haverford, there is a requirement for seniors to write a compulsory thesis. Brianna's idea for her economics thesis – whether the higher expense ratio of an actively managed ETF (exchange traded fund, which is managed by a portfolio manager) is justified by the higher returns as compared to a traditional passive ETF (a traditional investment consisting of buying an index rather than having an advisor manage it for you) – relates to the internship she was lucky enough to have last summer.

This summer, Briana received a ten week internship from one of the best asset management firms on Wall Street. Brianna worked on the sales desk, and assisted the associates who sell the mutual funds and ETFs (exchange traded funds) to financial advisors, who would like their client's money managed by this firm. The internship program itself was very well developed. There were 30 other interns in office. The campus recruiting team put together a lot of talks, breakfasts, and lunches with upper management that let us see what they were doing and how they got there showed different career paths so the interns had the chance to gain knowledge of the industry and people in it.

The portfolio challenge ended the summer. The interns formed teams and had to create a fund or portfolio with a theme, choosing stocks and making a presentation at the end of the summer competing against the other interns. Brianna's team made it to the final round of the presentation and presented to the CFO of the company. Their fund was called Yshares and was a fund for the young investor. "Our idea was to get young adults involved in the market and teach them what they were holding in their portfolio and why. It is crucial for young people to invest their money and to also be involved with the investment decisions that are being made with it."

Her internship led to a job offer in the same department once she graduates. briannarobbinsHer future is bright and her many years of hard work have paid off. Such things as her athletic career have provided her with the personal growth needed to be a successful individual and her academic work has given her the understanding and qualifications that landed her an impressive internship and subsequent job. Hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit are hallmarks of a successful Millennial in the workforce.

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A Spotlight on Talent: Featuring Gen X Artist Michael Ross

A Spotlight on Talent is a new feature we are trying out this year.  In partnership with my favorite Millennial, Lexie Ermi, we will be looking across generations, industries, sectors, and regions.  We have a nose for talent, and we want to do our part to support and celebrate them.  We hope you enjoy this edition of A Spotlight on Talent.

 Little Paintings M Ross

It was a snowy, windy morning shortly after the holidays and my new friend Michael Ross agreed to give Lexie and me a personal tour through his art exhibit, currently showing at The Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh Street in Bethesda.  Michael is an artist pursuing his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Georgia. The exhibit spans several years' worth of his work, and listening to him tell his story made for a refreshing forenoon. 

Ross is open and candid about his work, pleasingly articulate in his explanation of the pieces on the wall. Water, wetlands, primal creation scenes, and landscapes figure repeatedly in his art. When examining one of his pieces, he explains his attraction to the wetlands: "It's the marketplace of biology, the borderline between two ecological zones." Birds flying high above the water in his art can demonstrate a dichotomy between elemental forces, air and water. 

Two of his pieces, side by side in the gallery separated only by a picture of a bird flying above a body of water which acts as a bridge between the paintings, are titled "Adam" and "Eve." Both are figures, unclothed, emerging from the water. Reminiscent of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, the pieces, Ross comments, speak to both an evolutionary mindset and a fundamental religious belief.

           Adam 54x35 2007         Tern 24x30 2011          

Another grouping of paintings, as featured above, "little paintings," as Ross terms them, "smaller, meditative" allows Ross to further explain another consistent theme in his work. Some pieces have a sharp, specific edge which allows them to appear defined and finished, whereas others have a more diffuse edge. These are two different ways to portray images. Leaving things unfinished, Ross says, can make a painting work even better. Everything doesn't have to be completely in focus and "finished." Man in Niamey MKR 12x16 2008

His notion of unfinished work speaks to his somewhat free spirited and adventurous childhood and youth. Born in Norway, he spent his life living in different places that included Bethesda, Norway, and Finland, and he speaks Norwegian and Swedish. Through various study abroad programs and artistic programs, he managed to spend more time in different parts of Scandinavia, Iceland, Switzerland, and Africa. A degree in anthropology led him to have an interest in human cultures, particularly pre-western and even tribal cultures. This is particularly evident in the fact that none of his work showcases city scenes or many people, but rather focuses on nature, figures in nature, and the relation of man to his primordial past. 

Ross Runner Another of his paintings, titled "The Runner," represents the figure in nature again. There is a sense of speed, focus, an emphasis on the physical act of running and the physical act of breathing in and out. "It's a story," Ross explains, "he's in the middle of a run.  There was a beginning to the run, and there will be an end. Running makes you feel happy to be alive, and that's what I wanted to portray through this work." It's clear from Ross's comments and the way he pauses in front of this new work that he particularly enjoys and connects with it.

Ross's nomadic lifestyle has informed his work to a significant degree, giving him the capacity to create beautiful pictures ranging in subject matter from a harsh, bleak, wild seascape reminiscent of his time in Norway to warmly colored portraits of women with brown braids and deep eyes from his time in various parts of Africa. DSC 0178 His art and the themes within his works speak to the experiences he has had and the things that are important to him. Even the scarf around his neck, which, he informs us after we have complimented the soft blue fabric, is actually a turban from Mali which he cut in half, demonstrates the searching, explorative spirit so evident in his work. The scarf, casually thrown about his neck yet bearing such an intriguing story, well sums up the talented artist.


Please visit Michael's collection displayed at The Writer's Center in Bethesda.  Call ahead 301.654.8664 for exhibit hours.  Check out more of Michael's work on his website

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