Whenever Natalie Counce sets her mind on something, she makes it happen.
Rewind to 2009 when a massive ice storm crippled her hometown of Fayetteville and much of the region, causing thousands to go days without electricity. Natalie, then in middle school, began thinking about how difficult it must be for those who couldn’t afford coats. In fact, she did more than just think about it. She got with the Salvation Army and started a coat drive at her school – something she continued to do for years to come. In her lifetime, she has collected more than 2,000 coats that were donated to Northwest Arkansas’ needy.
And when she was needing an internship, she got one with the Dallas Cowboys, where she worked for six weeks as a brand management intern. Her projects included defining the differences between millennials and Generation Z sports fans, being on hand for the team’s media day as well as some IT and research work. It also meant sharing the cafeteria line with the likes of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ wide receiver. She says when she told people about her cool summer in Dallas, “it killed all my guy friends.”
“It was a fun way to go into senior year,” she says.
Then she wanted to move to New York. How to make that happen, however, was unclear. Natalie went to Fort With to meet with a representative with J.P. Morgan, a global financial services company. When Natalie told the woman about her desire to work in New York, the woman promptly contacted someone with the company’s New York office who was also from Arkansas. Days later, Natalie was in Midtown Manhattan for a job interview, armed with her best answers for any questions that came her way. And she did great.
In July, only two months after she graduates, Natalie will be a wealth management analyst in New York for J.P. Morgan. She will work with the company’s financial institutions team, taking on several duties, including providing solutions for hedge fund investors.
A dream come true.
Growing up in Fayetteville, Natalie knew she wanted to attend the University of Arkansas. What she wasn’t sure about was her major. She gave engineering a try and even took some pre-med courses with thoughts of going into medicine. “I had to dabble in a few things to find I love business,” she says.
Always looking for a good challenge, Natalie is finalizing her degrees in both accounting and finance with a minor in economics.
Adding to her busy schedule is her role as the university’s Associated Student Government vice president, an elected position. During her term, she has helped execute the campus’s diversity and inclusion goals as well as provide input for updating the ASG code and constitution – something that hasn’t been done in nearly two decades, she says.
Natalie is also a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, where she is past director of philanthropy and served as event chairperson. She has continued to volunteer with the Salvation Army, which earned her a Chancellor’s Community Scholarship. She is also the recipient of the Arkansas Alumni Association’s Razorback Generations and Arkansas Challenge scholarships.
When Natalie received an Honors College Study Abroad Grant, she initially wanted to visit a country that was more Western. Robert Stapp, Walton clinical professor of economics, persuaded her to get out of her comfort zone and join a group of students he was taking to Japan over the summer. “I am so thankful he did because I feel as though I learned so much more by going to Japan, and I had more fun than I could have imagined,” She says.
She says John Norwood, Walton accounting professor, has provided much needed encouragement throughout her college career. In fact, he’s her thesis adviser.
“Dr. Norwood also takes such an interest in his students,” Natalie says. “He is always available for them, which has made me see how important it is to invest in others.”
Meanwhile, Natalie is getting real world experience as a financial analyst intern at Greenwood Gearhart Inc., a Fayetteville investment advising firm. Her internship has included working with stock investments and doing equity research for the firm’s clients.
“They always have Walton College interns,” she says of Greenwood Gearhart. “They’re great supporters of the Walton College.”
Following graduation, Natalie plans to take exams to earn a Chartered Financial Analyst credential.
She has a team of people rallying behind her.
“The Walton College seems very supportive in seeing me succeed,” she says.