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Finance major follows his own path via RBC to W&M degree

  • Solomon Asare
    Making his way:  Solomon Asare ’22 came to William & Mary in fall 2020 as part of the first group of Promise Scholars, having completed two years of courses at Richard Bland College. He will graduate in May with a finance degree and start a job with Genworth Financial.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Solomon Asare ’22 has continued to be surprised by his William & Mary experience, which he characterizes as unlikely and curious to contemplate.

Asare will graduate in May with a finance degree from the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and start a job in his field. He came to W&M in fall 2020 as part of the first group of Promise Scholars, having completed two years of courses at Richard Bland College.

“One thing I always say is I honestly don’t know how I got here since it seems like a struggle sometimes,” Asare said.

His parents immigrated from Ghana more than 20 years ago, and Asare was born in Ohio. Right around the time he graduated from high school in Midlothian, Virginia, in 2018, his parents moved back to Ghana.

That was decision-making time as far as whether Asare would stay in the U.S. and attend college or move back with his family. His two older sisters stayed while the youngest returned with the family.

He decided to stay and attend college, living with a sister in Virginia Beach during the summers.

“If you had told me senior (high school) year when everything thing seemed bleak … that I’d be finishing my degree at William & Mary, I’d say yeah, you’re joking,” Asare said. “So I always try to give back. I’m really appreciative of RBC for making me a Promise Scholar, and then for William & Mary.

“I have learned so, so much since I’ve been at this school. The amount of growth I’ve made as a person and academically is insane just in the two years I’ve been here. So I would love to be involved in any way I can with William & Mary and RBC.”

While at Richard Bland, Asare was in the Honors Program, president of the college’s a cappella group Musical Statesmen, worked as a tutor, served as public relations officer for the Student Assembly and had a campus job in Residence Life. He also served as RBC’s representative to the W&M Board of Visitors for 2019-20, which he said was a valuable learning experience and bridge between the two.

“Honestly being the Board of Visitors representative was such an illuminating experience,” he said. “I got to rub elbows with a lot of the Board of Visitors and got a lot of perspective in different industries that they worked in.

“I also got to see how the decision process was made for both RBC and William & Mary. So I got to see how both schools went about getting things done financially and socially.”

Asare’s first year at W&M was limited by COVID-19, so the current academic year has been his only full on-campus experience. He has made the most of it, detailing how rigorous academics have defined his progression as well as many other things he has learned and enjoyed.

“Transferring from high school to Richard Bland, I feel as if the academic process of change was difficult,” Asare said. “But it wasn’t as difficult as the one from Richard Bland to William & Mary. It was like going up a ladder, each step helped me build up.”

Taking Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses in high school helped, but coming into W&M taking high level core finance classes was challenging.

“I had to really re-evaluate my study ethics and grind really hard, especially the first semester here, because it was a COVID semester and was a shortened semester as well,” Asare said. “So that semester was really tough on me. But once I found my footing, all the other semesters have gone really well, and I’m doing really well academically.”

Asare is a member of the African American Male Coalition and a junior analyst in the Mason Investment Club. He served as a mentor in the Finance Academy for two semesters and works in Mason’s M.B.A. program office.

He chose finance as his major partially to go against family pressure to become a doctor, he said.

“But I was looking for something that I felt like could combine my interests in human interactions and the economy,” Asare said. “And I wanted to learn more about business.”

It wasn’t until he got into his core finance class at the W&M business school that he did just that.

“I realized that although it was very hard, I did enjoy learning the content, and I wanted to know more about it,” Asare said. “So that’s how I ultimately decided to go the finance route.”

After Commencement, he will start a rotation program position with Genworth Financial, working one year in their investments accounting office in Richmond followed by one year with the portfolio management team in Connecticut.

Asare said the best thing about W&M is the academic atmosphere.

“Just the attitude here and the professors are very supportive,” Asare said. “Students also take their academics very seriously, so it was a very nice and healthy space for you to make progress in your academic career. I also really enjoyed the social life. There’s a lot of scenery on campus. I like green space, and there’s a lot of green space on campus.

“There are a lot of really nice people here who are really pushing for you to be the best version of yourself, which I’m sure any college student would appreciate. There’s a lot of niche things about William & Mary that you wouldn’t even realize. There’s a lot of activities and groups that you wouldn’t think there would be. You’ve just got to go looking for it to find it.”