Meet our Students and Alumni
Jeanne Fisher, CFP®, CPFA, MBA
Mrs. Fisher is a Certified Financial Planner™ with ARGI, a comprehensive wealth management firm. She serves a a 401k and retirement plan specialist for ARGI, and designs and manages a range of employer-sponsored retirement plans. She has a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky, and is a Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor from the National Association of Plan Advisors. Jeanne was honored to be selected as Kentucky's Ambassador for the CFP® Board. As an ambassador, she is frequently interviewed for national publications, including: NPR's "Here and Now", Forbes, Investor's Daily Business, the Guardian, "Women Rocking Wall Street" Podcast, "Doughroller" Podcast etc. She's presented financial seminars to more than 50 assoications in the Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee area.
Mr. Ryan Meredith is Vice President of Asset Management for Ryman Hospitality Properties, real estate investment trust specializing in upscale, meetings-focused resort hotels. In his current role, Ryan reviews all major financial and capital investment activity for the Gaylord Hotels and is actively involved in strategic planning, financial and operational analysis, budgeting, forecasting, market research, and modeling/due diligence for M&A activity. Prior to joining Ryman in 2011, Ryan spent over ten years in various analytical roles with Video Gaming Technologies, ResortQuest and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). He is a certified management accountant (CMA), certified financial manager (CFM), earned a B.S. degree in Finance and History from Western Kentucky University, and holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Mrs. Marie Angeles graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2017 with a degree in Financial Management and a minor in Economics with a certificate in Applied Data Analytics.
When asiked about her time on the hill, she said, "The Finance Department helped me in preparing for my career by having resources available. Such as having a mentor that gave me guidance in my job search. The department also offered trips where I was able to network and speak with professionals in the industry that offered some insights on the different paths within finance."
Marie is the Mortgage Warehouse Lending Operations Specialist at UBS. Some of her job responsibilities include processing client funding and settlement requests, risk management and reporting and monitoring collateral perfection.
Zac Ritchey, an Atlanta native, joined Carson Wealth in search of a world class, innovative and proactive wealth management organization that perpetually focuses on exceeding clients' needs and upholding the highest standard of service. Zac is passionate about following a discipciplined, emotionally based financial decisons is the leading factor for helping individuals achieve "True Wealth".
Zac's passion for helping others achieve financial health started during his tenth-grade Personal Finance class. He further pursued that enthusiasm for finance during college, here at Western Kentucky University. Zac double majored in Financial Planning and Financial Management. He graduated as a College Ambassador, Summa Cum Laude honors student and Valedictorian of his graduating class.
Zac is a certified Financial Planner™ and a registered Securities Agent and Series 66 registration with CEM, LLC. He alos holds his Life, Health and Annunity insurance licenses.
Jacqueline Rowe, CFP®
Jacqueline Rowe, CFP®, a wealth Advisor with JPS Wealth Advisors of Hilliard Lyons, a comprehensive wealth management team providing services with an all-inclusive, boutique-style approach. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in Finance and a certificate in Financial Planning. She completed the CFP designation in 2011 and has nearly 10 years' experience in the wealth management and financial planning field. She feels her current role with JPS Wealth is unique in that she is not "building a book" of clients as most advisors do. Rather, her niche is supporting other advisors on her team by providing concierge-level service to their highest net worth clients. Not only is this a valuable service for the advisors, but highly regarded by their clients, as she is passionate about serving them with the highest level of professionalism.
In regards to her time at WKU Jacqueline says, "I credit my time in the WKU Finance program for preparing me with the knowledge and skills needed, both practical and relational, to be successful and productive in my role from day one"
Elijah graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2017. He currently works as a Financial Planning Associate at Coats Financial Planning in Louisville, KY. When asked how he began his career, Elijah said, "I actually began my career in a strange way. I interned with Coats Financial Planning the summer after graduation, went off to work in Walt Disney World for the rest of 2017, then came back to Coats Financial Planning beginning in 2018. It was a really fun way to begin my career and I don't regret it for a second."
When asked what in his college experience prepared him for is current position, Elijah said, "the professors specifically in the Financial Planning program. You can learn personal finance at a lot of schools throughout the country, and you'll likely get the same content, but how is that content communicated, and what real world applications are the teachers incorporating? I think WKU's program is top-notch because the professors prepare you for real-world financial planning scenarios and don't focus purely on theoreticals." Elijah also said that students graduating in the next few years should, "get involved on campus while they still can, talk to their professors and get to know them, and do fun things after graduating, if you are able".
N. Drew Richey, CFP®, CRPS
N. Drew Richey, Senior Vice President and Financial Consultant, joined the Jennings Perry Schmitt Wealth Management Group in 2005, shortly before graduating form WKU. Here he was a Dean's List Scholar and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Business Economics and a certificate in Financial Planning. Drew is a Certified Financial Planner and a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist who is passionate about serving clients. He uses the knowledge he has acquired through nine years of experience and specialized training, to assist clients in building, managing, preserving and transitioning wealth.
Sarah Clark currently works at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as a bank examiner.
Lucio Gaspar Vazquez
Lucio Gaspar Vazquez, Assistant Vice-President and Credit Analyst at Franklin Bank & Trust Co. He graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Financial Management and a minor in Marketing and a certificate in Financial Planning. He has been a Credit Analyst at Franklin Bank and Trust Company for over five years and was recently promoted to Assistant Vice-President. In 2016, he completed his MBA in the WKU Professional MBA Program.
In regards to this time at WKU Lucio says, "I enjoyed my time in the Gordon Ford College of Business and the Department of Finance. The courses were academically challenging thus preparing me for my career path"
Kyle earned a B.S. in Finance from Western Kentucky University in 2010 with a concentration in Financial Management and the Financial Planning Certificate and a minor in Psychology. He is currently employed at Cushman and Wakefield as a "Ocupancy Strategist". He uses is finance and data management knowledge to drive meaningful and actionable strategies for corporate real estate portfolios.
Rhea Ann England
Zerina graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science in finance. While in college, she was part of the Economics Club and served at vice president of the university's Financial Planning Assocation. Zerina jointed the Hurlow Wealth Management Group in January 2017. She previously interned with financial planning firms in Louisville, Kentucky and Asheville and North Carolina where she acquired valuable experience in back office financial planning operations and client service.
Zerina is a member of the Hoosier Hills Estate Planning Council, Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, Financial Planning Association of Greater Indiana, and services on the marketing committee for Cardinal Stage Company, and the steering committee for the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Helping Young Professionals Excel program. Additionally, Zerina is a graduate of the Bloomington City Hall's Citizen's Academy, and a current student of Leadership Bloomington Monore County.
I graduated from the WKU Finance Program in May 2015 with a degree in Financial Management and the Certificate of Financial Planning. I received my MBA from WKU in December 2018. I recently celebrated 3 years with Hancock Bank and Trust Company in Bowling Green, KY. As a Credit Analyst, I primarily analyze financial data in order to help assess the needs of commercial borrowers as well as identify and minimize loan risk for the bank.
I loved my time in the WKU Finance Program. The professors truly care for the students and the Gordon Ford College of Business worked hard to help prepare students for their careers.
Francisco E. Arcos
I was born and raised in Quito-Ecuador. I moved to the USA when I started college at WKU to pursue my finance degree. Little did I know that my original plans to go back home will change and instead of getting one degree, I graduated twice earning three degrees and was blessed to meet the love of my life, my wife, Elexia.
The summer before moving to the U.S, I had the opportunity to visit WKU’s campus and I immediately knew it was the right place to pursue my career aspirations. I met with Dr. Brown, who gave me guidance on the two pathways I could choose from, which lead me to pursue the Financal Management career path. Since day one, I received tremendous support from all the Faculty and Staff in the Finance department and the Gordon Ford College of Business. I also had the opportunity to be involved in many organizations, committees, and clubs. Just to mention a few, I was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, Beta Gamma Sigma, I served as president of the Financial Management Association, and participated in numerous committees such as the GFCB Diversity Committee, Fiscal Oversight Committee, and the Strategic Planing Council. Involvement in these organizations and others was key to my success at WKU and allowed me to meet wonderful individuals that shared their knowledge and friendship with me.
Thanks to all of the support from WKU, I decided to declare a second major in Marketing and eventually decided to stay an extra year at WKU to obtain my MBA. My time at WKU was wonderful. I graduated in 2016 with Summa Cum Laude honors and obtained both my Finance and Marketing degrees, and the year afterwards I obtained my MBA. WKU truly felt like a second home. It’s not only the university where I obtained a universal education, but was lucky enough to meet wonderful people that I can now call family.
After completing my academic career at WKU, I was blessed to receive and offer from Edward Jones to join their firm’s Financial Advisor Career Development program. This new position had me relocate to St. Louis where I learned all about their culture and developed a comprehensive knowledge about the financial industry. Last summer, I had the opportunity to transition to a new department within the firm and I currently work as an Investment Specialist for their Financial Solutions Department. The Finance Department definitely provided me with the right tools to succeed in my career and I am thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of this amazing department during my college career.
I graduated from WKU in December 2013 with a bachelors degree in Financial Management. After graduation, I worked as a Loan Officer at a community bank for about four years. Currently, I am a Financial Institutions Examiner for the State of Kentucky.
Douglas C. Stratton
I graduated from Western Kentucky in 2017, majoring in Finance (Financial Planning and Financial Management). During my time at WKU, I served as an accounting/finance intern at Scotty’s Contracting and Stone and participated in the CFA Challenge and TVA Investment Challenge.
I am currently a J.D. candidate at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, serving as an Admissions Fellow and a M J & J Maurer Scholarship recipient. Currently, I have focused my curriculum of business/transactional work in the pursuit of a career in Estate Planning, Business Law, or potential commission in the Armed Forces.
The WKU Finance department presented me with unique experiences and academic challenges that influenced my decision to pursue law school. I still rely on my work ethic that I formed at WKU and truly believe the professors and staff are second to none. The biggest advice I can give to current students is to connect with your professors & classmates and be involved on campus. The friends you make now will be your connections later in life, and you will never regret making the time to spend with them.
Sabina Smailhodzic, CFP®
Sabina earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, as well as a minor in Biology from Western Kentucky University in May 2011. After a year of travel and work, she enrolled in a CFP® Board Registered Program at Western Kentucky University, earning a Financial Planning Certificate in May 2014. In order to gain experience in the field of personal finance, Sabina worked as both a bank teller and wealth management intern in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. Aside from her work experience, Sabina gained additional exposure to the field through her participation in the Western Kentucky University Financial Planning Association® student chapter.
Sabina traveled across the country in August 2014 to join the Yeske Buie team in San Francisco as the first Financial Planning Resident. She worked directly with clients, preparing financial plans and reviews, and working in all aspects of financial planning, from the discovery process through to implementation and ongoing support of clients’ goals. In addition to her role at Yeske Buie, Sabina joined the NexGen committee of the San Francisco Financial Planning Association® to collaborate with other young professionals in developing the next generation of Financial Planners.
Upon graduating from Yeske Buie's In-Residence Program in the Summer of 2016, Sabina returned to Bowling Green, KY. She joined Journey Financial Management as a Financial Planner. Sabina is a member of the Kentuckiana Financial Planning Association®, a Junior Achievement volunteer, and a mentor to students and early-career professionals.
Sabina encourages people to explore the financial planning profession, no matter what stage of life they are in. It's never too late to join such a rewarding profession!"
Zachary P. Jones
Zach is a recent graduate of the WKU Full-time Master of Business Administration.
Zach earned his undergraduate degree at WKU and majored in political science, minored
in finance, and earned a certificate in financial planning. Zach is currently the
Program Coordinator and Lead Financial Coach at the Center for Financial Success at
WKU. He is also one of the professors of Fin 161: Personal Finance. He is passionate
about educating the WKU and Bowling Green community on financial literacy.
Zach said "The certificate in financial planning was one of my favorite academic experiences as an undergraduate in the WKU GFCB. The Department of Finance Team (faculty and staff) goes 110% to make sure that the students receive a quality applied education experience and it was definitely felt on my end. My knowledge in holistic financial planning was deepened by choosing to take the two or three extra classes to be eligible to sit for the CFP exam and receive the certificate. I do not regret for a second taking the extra classes."
Hunter Willis, CFP®, CAIA, CFA
Hunter Willis, CFP®, CAIA, CFA earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Management and Financial Planning from Western Kentucky University in May 2015. While at WKU, he served as President of the Financial Management Association, earned the Financial Planning Certificate, and served as lead analyst on the CFA challenge team. Upon graduation, he secured a job at ARGI Financial Group in their Louisville office as a Trading and Investments Associate in their investment department. To gain more knowledge in his field, he decided to pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst exam in his senior year at WKU and finished the last of the three exams in 2017. To continue his education and enhance his versatility in the field, he subsequently finished the CFP® exam in early 2018 and passed both exams of the CAIA program in 2019.
In his role at ARGI, he performs numerous tasks such as meeting with clients to discuss investment performance and new strategies, trading and rebalancing portfolios including options strategies, designing and implementing new portfolio ideas, delivering weekly investment reviews for one of the firm’s core portfolios, and serves on the Alternative Investment Due Diligence Committee. He was also recently promoted to Portfolio Manager and will oversee the firm’s small-cap strategy. One of the things he most enjoys about his current position is still being able to work with one of his favorite professors at WKU, Dr. Chhachhi.
Hunter’s advice for current students is to pursue what you enjoy. Don’t just accept the first position that comes your way. Find your passion, go after it, and be all-in.
Where have WKU finance graduates gone to work?
|A. G. Edwards||American Express||ARGI Financial Group||AT&T|
|Bank of America||BB&T||Bloomberg||Carson Wealth Management|
|Department of the Treasury||Dollar General||Edward Jones||Fidelity Investments|
|Fruit of the Loom||Gaylord Entertainment||General Motors||Hilliard Lyons|
|Home Depot||Landmark Financial Advisors||Merrill Lynch||Office of the Comptroller of the Currency|