Students earn national, international honors

Four Detroit Mercy students received well-earned attention for their recent work.

Detroit Mercy student Cameron Johns recently received the American Chemical Society Leadership Institute Award from the American Chemical Society. Johns is the second student president of the Chemistry Club to receive this award.

The American Chemical Society is the largest scientific professional organization in the world. The Society trains its members to be future leaders in the chemical enterprise through an on-site weekend workshop once a year.

According to Chemistry faculty member Matt Mio, “In recent years, the ACS started offering awards to enroll undergraduate students in a special leadership training track at the workshop. In 2019, Detroit Mercy is proud to announce that Chemistry Club President Cameron Johns was selected to attend this prestigious program to learn the ins and outs of professional leadership.”

To learn more about this award and Detroit Mercy student Cameron Johns, view this video.

Three Detroit Mercy business students placed in the top 25 in the world in the fall 2018 ETF Global Investment Challenge.

Matthew Vangalen, Spiro Pliakos and Alexa Yonan competed against students from 253 schools in 41 countries and five continents. Vangalen, Pliakos and Yonan placed 13th, 14th and 15th in the world respectively. During the bear market this past fall, these students achieved investment returns of 7.75 percent, 7.70 percent and 6.99 percent. Omid Sabbaghi, director of Graduate Business programs, worked closely with students during the competition.

In addition, while Detroit Mercy students were competing globally in the investment competition using simulated portfolios, all three were managing a real portfolio — the Mercy and Jesuit Student Investment Capital fund (Majestic Fund).

During their management of this fund, they met quarterly with an investment advisory council composed of industry practitioners and carefully watched the performance of the market. As a result of their work, students developed the technical skills necessary for managing investments as well as the presentation skills required to work successfully with clients and professionals.

For students, this competition, along with the chance to manage a real investment fund, underscore why Detroit Mercy is so different than other institutions of higher education.

“It was a great opportunity for students like me to learn how to manage a portfolio and to get a taste of what investing truly entails,” said Yonan, a student in the five-year MBA program concentrating in International Business and Business Intelligence. “When our class taught by Dr. Sabbaghi entered the challenge, I knew I was in good hands.”

Vangalen, a senior Business major with a concentration in Finance and captain of the Detroit Mercy Men’s Lacrosse Team, said this competition allows students to use the knowledge gained from the Fundamental of Investments course and apply it to a real world simulator.

“With the generous donations from our investors, our class was able to research investment options and present our findings in front of the board,” he said. “Both experiences were very valuable and showed us how applicable the information learned in the course was. I really enjoyed the ETF global challenge because it allowed us to compete with similar students from around the country.”

This is not the first time Detroit Mercy students performed well during the ETF competition. In 2016, a team of Detroit Mercy business students placed fifthin the world out of 468 student teams from 30 countries in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group Trading Challenge. And in 2017, four Detroit Mercy business students individually placed among the world’s top 25 performers in the ETF Global Investment Challenge, collectively outperforming all 220 other universities from 25 countries.


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