|Radford University's Student Management Investment Portfolio Organization. Giancarla Rojas is in the bottom row on the right.|
Falls Church High school graduate and “dreamer” Giancarla Rojas Mendoza is the member of a Radford University team that won first place in a national investment competition.
Two years ago, Rojas, then 18, was struggling to afford college, because as the child of undocumented parents, she would have had to pay the much higher out-of-state tuition rate.
That policy meant Rojas, who is from Bolivia, couldn’t afford to enroll in George Mason University, so she attended Northern Virginia Community College, even though the higher out-of-state rate there was a burden. Then after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring ruled that students with DACA status qualify for the in-state rate, she transferred to Radford, where she became the first dreamer accepted to the university and received a full-tuition scholarship.
Rojas will graduate in May with a degree in international economics and is applying to graduate school. Wall Street might figure in her future career plans, she says, but “for now I am going more toward policy-related work.”
At Radford, Rojas is vice president for operations at the Student Managed Investment Portfolio Organization (SMIPO). That organization earned first place in the value fund category at the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (G.A.M.E.) VI Forum April 2 in New York City. SMIPO’s portfolio produced the highest risk-adjusted returns in that category. Representatives from more than 140 colleges participated in the event, which was sponsored by Quinnipiac University.
SMIPO was created to give Radford students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in investing money on behalf of an institutional client. The organization manages funds for the university foundation’s endowment. SMIPO started with an initial investment of $100,000; the current total investment is $600,000. The group netted a 3 percent gain for the year, compared to a 2 percent loss by the S&P 500.
Rojas is also vice president of Scholarship Sharing, a nonprofit that helps students gain access to resources with the goal of a debt-free college degree.