College of Business student Jakhyia Johnson has been selected as one of six students nationally to receive the 2019 US SIF Peter DeSimone Student Scholarship. Through the attainment of this scholarship, Johnson has been provided exceptional opportunities in the fields of sustainable, responsible and impact investment.
“I wasn’t aware of how competitive this scholarship was until I discovered that one of the other scholars was from Yale University and another scholar was a 19-year old graduate student at the University of Toronto,” says Johnson. “The acceptance from the US SIF Peter DeSimone Student Scholarship reassured me that my brilliance and faith in God is not in vain.”
The US SIF Peter DeSimone Student Scholarship aims to increase knowledge of sustainable and impact investment, motivate students to become practitioners upon graduation and provide opportunities to learn directly from sustainable investment experts.
The scholarship is named for Peter DeSimone, a 20-plus year veteran of the Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) community. Peter was a US SIF staff member for several years, inaugurating the position of policy director and helping launch the first conference.
Dr. Sheila Porterfield, interim dean for the College of Business, says, “I am extremely honored that the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment selected Jakhyia as one of six recipients of the 2019 Peter DeSimone Student Scholarship. The scholarship afforded her the opportunity to attend the 9th annual US SIF Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.”
Porterfield continued, “Jakhyia being selected as a recipient of this scholarship is another example of the opportunities that await our students as they endeavor to earn their college education and simultaneously plan their career. It also serves as motivation to other students that they can succeed in their academic programs while connecting to current opportunities for professional growth in their chosen area of study.”
Before attending the conference, Johnson admits that she “vaguely thought SRI had to do with investors simply investing in companies that were not polluting the environment by having tobacco-free portfolios.”
Johnson continued, “After I attended the conference, I was introduced to a world of business in which financial professionals, advisors and Chief Executive Officers determined how their companies can use investments to ultimately make the world a better place. I was blown away upon learning that there was an industry in business that practices and studies how investing dollars can not only address but resolve environmental, societal and corporate governance issues.”
During the conference, Johnson says she was most intrigued by “learning about Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and how they are specifically dedicated towards giving urban communities economic leverage through funding non-profits, small businesses, and assisting lower-income families with affordable housing.”
After attending the conference, Johnson applied for a program that would continually broaden her knowledge about the CDFI industry. She was awarded a full scholarship into the College for Financial Planning program.
“There is an extremely low percentage of African-Americans in this industry and many are uneducated about this field,” says Johnson. “I am making it a priority to advocate that the concept of the SRI becomes a part of the curriculum in the College of Business at JSU so that my peers can also learn about this industry and ultimately take on a career in this area to positively impact our world.”
“For students aspiring to attain this scholarship, simply express your passion for impact in the areas of environmental, societal, or corporate governance. If you desire to help make a change, than this is definitely the opportunity for you,” Johnson said.