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Avery Coffey: "I Dreamt about Being President or CEO"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Avery Coffey: "I Dreamt about Being President or CEO"

Student Spotlight: Avery Coffey

What’s your major? What do you want to do with it?

I’ve always been interested in economics, especially the area of income disparity. I remember in high school I wrote an essay about economic inequality. By the time I finished the paper I realized how wrong income disparity is. For example, in DC, we have some of the highest rent and mortgage rates, but it felt like many residents, at least growing up, were low-income. DC is very segregated—some wards are very African-American and lower-income, and in others, there are lots of upper-class white people. I wanted to understand why that was, and how it relates to society in general. It seemed to me that economics would be the best way to learn about the world.

As for post-college, I’m thinking about consulting or banking, but am keeping my options open. In the last few years of high school, I thought about what I wanted to do with my life. I was really interested in math. I volunteered at the Howard University Business School, and one mentor explained finance to me and gave me textbooks. I read them, started following the stock market, and developed a passion for finance.

Avery CoffeyWhat advice do you have for students who want to follow after you?

If you are willing to work hard and dream big then there’s nothing that can stop you. When I was in high school, I dreamt about being the president or CEO. I always tried to dream bigger than the reality. I forced myself to push higher than what others thought I could reach. That’s why I’m here.

I honestly believe that there are a lot more people from DC who could come here. In middle school most of my peers were really smart! But it seemed like they didn’t apply themselves as hard as they could, and that they didn’t have the support network to help them make the most of what they had to offer.

People from where I come from need to realize that you have the potential to be here. Don’t waste it.

How did you feel about all the media attention last spring?

I don’t like a lot of attention. My only role model growing up was my mom, and we are both reserved and calm and don’t like attention. But I think it was good to provide light on something that’s not the norm. It’s very easy to turn on the news and see African-American males doing the wrong thing. I liked that we could shed light on something very positive for young black males to see, so they don’t just see the same thing.

What classes are you taking? What’s your favorite?

Right now I’m taking calculus, econ, expository writing, and Freshman Seminar. My favorite class is Freshman Seminar. The topic is: “Can government be good?” We talk about ethics of politicians and the tough decisions they make. We also talk about poverty, whistle-blowing, torture, to name a few. It actually ties into a course I took in high school, the Theory of Knowledge. In both classes we wrestle with ethics and think about issues from different perspectives.

How did DCPS prepare you?

I went to Orr Elementary, Howard University Middle School (not DCPS), then Banneker. The International Baccalaureate program at Banneker prepared me to write well. Here, writing here is essential for everything. The fact that I have a foundation is key. Translating what I’ve learned in high school to my classes here has been very helpful.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I’m the leader of intra-mural sports for my dorm.  Right now I participate in soccer, flag football, and basketball. I really love it since I played sports in high school. I’m also involved with the Harvard consulting group on campus. We have our own business clients, such as a communications firm for tech start-ups. We can be innovative and creative with our recommendations.  It helps us develop problem-solving skills and thinking outside the box. I’m also involved with the International Relations Council; we try to find interesting people in social activism and other fields and bring them here to speak. I want to do as much as I can while I’m here. I want to make it count.

Avery CoffeyWhat do you wish you had known before college?

I wish I had known how to study more efficiently. In high school, the work itself was hard but I didn’t have to study as hard as I do now. What they ask of you is more than what they give you. Here, you have to do a lot of growing on your own to master the information.

What are your roommates like?

Everyone is really unique, but we are united in our aspirations or our music choices. The university did a great job matching people together because some people have similar personalities but have different passions. I really like my roommates. One of them is from Kentucky. We talk about different issues from back home, whether economic or cultural. I learn things about their community I wouldn’t know otherwise.

What’s surprised you about college?

The amount of freedom. I’m so used to the high school routine of taking seven or eight classes, then having to do homework. But here, I take less classes and have more time. It’s incumbent on me to spend it most effectively.