Driving and studying cars is also how John lets off steam. He is quick to agree there are many parallels to driving and his fast-paced life as a finance and economics major at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
“The automotive industry is certainly my outlet,” he says, adding that the complex, dynamic nature of cars and racing can also be stressful, but in a different way. “Life is like that for me.”
Life, for John, began in Tulsa, Okla., where he was raised. Both the business world and cars made an early impression on him–his father is the general manager of Audi Tulsa, and his uncle is vice chairman of strategic investments at KPMG, a nationwide U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm.
In high school, John began looking at different colleges from across the nation and applied to several. “It really came down to what’s the biggest bang for your buck,” he says.
That would be the University of Arkansas. During his junior year, he visited the campus, which included the Walton College and a stop at the George W. Edwards Jr. Career Center and a meeting with Renee Clay, the Center’s assistant director. He also visited with Dr. Javier Reyes, economics associate professor and vice provost of distance education for the university’s Global Campus. “He really hammered away the positive traits of the business school,” John says.
John was convinced and enrolled at the University of Arkansas. The summer before his freshman year, he participated in the Business Leadership Academy, a residential program sponsored by Walton College’s Center for Retail Excellence. “I certainly made the right decision, and I’m happy where I’m at,” he says.
Now a senior, John is a Walton Honors student and Silas Hunt Distinguished scholar. He also served as treasurer for the University of Arkansas chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) and has recently been elected the chapter’s vice president. The student chapter, which works with ALPFA’s Northwest Arkansas Professional Chapter, serves as a leadership development organization supported by the Walton College’s Career Center. John says ALPFA helped facilitate a summer internship with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Newark, Del., where he worked in its Corporate and Investment Bank’s Finance and Business Management division. He also spent the past year working at Schallhorn Brown Capital Management’s Fayetteville office and, the year before that, at KPMG’s Bentonville office where he helped manage its Wal-Mart account.
As an Eagle Scout and someone with a passion for community giving, John aspires to begin his career in a field that will make an impact on society: financial services. “The banking industry plays a vital role in the support and growth of the economy, both on a global and domestic level,” he says.
John has also been the vice president of public relations for the Walton College’s Finance Club and is a member of the university’s Chinese Culture and Language Club (he’s minoring in Chinese with a business orientation), which would help position him should he want to work globally.
If that sounds like a full schedule, it is. But John says he enjoys juggling complex timelines, including one that involves getting out on the golf course.
“There is nothing like the feeling you get when hard work pays off,” he says.