Our Stories

Choosing the ‘Warmest’ Place

The program piqued Saul Velez’s interest; the people clinched it

Saul Velez
Growth Equity Analyst, Norwest Venture Partners

Vanderbilt MS Finance 2021

For Saul Velez, choosing the Vanderbilt MSF program was a matter of head and heart.

Knowing that he wanted to enter the finance industry after becoming interested in the field during his final year at the University of Florida, Saul initially was drawn to Vanderbilt because of the MSF program’s reputation and “world-class finance professors.”

But upon visiting the campus and meeting with students, “I fell in love,” he says. “Everyone here was so warm and welcoming. During my visit, I hit it off with my tour guide, who also was a UF alum, and to this day we still keep in touch. The quality of the people and the closeness of the MSF cohort persuaded me to come here. I knew that Vanderbilt would not only help prepare me for my career but would also provide unmatched networking opportunities, career development skills, and lifelong friends.”

The warmth and collegiality Saul found during his visit became part of both his academic (head) and social (heart) experience during the program. “Owen is a very collaborative community with close relationships,” he says. “I have developed friendships with many of my classmates and MSF alumni, who I expect to be friends with over the long run. Being a student at Owen also has allowed me to build relationships with students from other programs, such as the MBA and MAcc programs. I have really enjoyed getting to experience different perspectives and the diverse community that exists here.”

Nowhere was Saul’s initial impression of Vanderbilt more validated than his experience in the first week of the program, when he was forced to quarantine because he came in close contact with someone who had COVID-19. “During that time,” he recalls, “[Program Director] Cherrie Wilkerson reached out personally multiple times to check on me and offer any help I needed.”

He didn’t forget. It was one of the reasons Saul decided to become an MSF Admissions Ambassador. “I want to pay it forward and help prospective students navigate the process,” he says.

Fun Fact: Saul, a big fan of reading, working out, traveling, and college football (especially Florida Gators football), has recently been learning to play piano.

The quality of the people and the closeness of the MSF cohort persuaded me to come here.