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Friday, May 10, 2013 - SBA helps alumna launch investment analyst career

Oakland University alumna Elena Popova found opportunity in her mailbox.

Just a few years ago, Popova was a high school senior, nearly packed and seemingly committed to attending the University of Notre Dame, until a life-changing letter arrived.

“I received a letter offering me a full-ride — the Presidential Scholarship — to Oakland University,” Popova explained. “Given the situation for me at the time and knowing my parents weren’t going to pay for school, it was truly a godsend.”

Now a successful investment analyst for the Kresge Foundation, Popova considers the true value of the scholarship to be priceless. As an OU student, she squeezed an incredible amount of learning into her four years at Oakland. Popova graduated in 2011,  having earned three majors — finance, economics and math. 

Oakland’s strong academic foundation was only a part of her university experience. In her sophomore year, Popova made a concentrated effort to take full advantage of the wealth of hands-on experiences that the School of Business Administration offers its students, helping her to cement the foundation she was building for her future.

Popova served as president of the Women’s Economic Society, president of the SBA’s Scholars, chair of the SBA Dean’s Scholar Board, financial reporter for the SBA’s new Society for Applied Investing and Financial Education, member of the Financial Management Association, and a student representative for the Executive Committee of the SBA Faculty Assembly and the Judicial Conduct Committee for the Dean of Students.

She also interned twice: in product research at Chrysler Group LLC, and in portfolio management at Copper Beech Wealth Management.

Somehow Popova found time for volunteer and networking activities outside OU, which included the Detroit Association of Business Economists, the Detroit Economic Club and Omicron Delta Epsilon, an international economics honor society.

“I learned so many valuable skills from these opportunities,” she said. Many of these skills are utilized every day in her job as an investment analyst for the Kresge Foundation. Even this success was built at Oakland -- Popova was offered the job by a fellow alumnus Robert Manilla, Finance ’85, before she even graduated.

Thanks to the real-world experience she gained in these programs, Popova learned how to lead, strategize, run meetings, motivate, plan, speak publicly, network, multi-task, organize and more.

“I was able to make a contribution quickly because of all my hands-on experience,” she said. “There’s so much value in that.”

At Kresge, Popova has the responsibility to nurture the endowment’s $3 billion value, and the freedom to travel solo for business. “I’ve learned through everything I did at Oakland University that you have to take the initiative and lead, so I know how to represent myself and The Kresge Foundation."

To learn more about programs, courses and opportunities in Oakland's SBA, view the website at oakland.edu/sba.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.  
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