Major: Business Administration / Finance
Lucas College and Graduate School of Business
Why did you choose your major?
I have always been a top performer in sales in the auto, retail, commodities and digital advertising industries. But every industry I worked for goes through good times and bad. During the recession, I did an SWOT analysis on myself. My strengths include mathematics, accounting, statistics, leadership, management and experience within multiple industries. My weaknesses were that I did not have a bachelor's degree and I do not like computer programming. Due to the market demand of finance professionals, there are opportunities in investment banking, venture capital, tax law and CFO positions. Another possibility was to find a career in sales in the tech industry. The challenge is that all industries will have downturns. It is up to me to learn how to recognize the rise and fall of each industry. I combined the analysis on myself with how much I love the idea of investing and decided on a business administration major with a concentration in finance.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
I am completely honored to be receiving the Dean’s Scholar Award, as it confirms that I picked the right major for myself. I am able to receive this award not only because I received good grades in the courses included in my concentration, but also because I love what these courses teach me. This award will help further motivate my peers, as they will be able to see the reward of diligence.
Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life?
I would first like to mention my father. Although he had countless failed attempts at starting up a business, he has never given up and manages to pick himself up each and every time. He never complains to my mother and me. He just somehow pushes himself forward. I am thankful to be able to watch and learn from his experience. I think he is finally beginning to succeed in one of his businesses. I am thankful to my beautiful and loving wife, who stood by me and provided moral support even when I was at my lowest during the recession. I have to thank my 14-month-old son, who has given me a tremendous amount of motivation. Every night when I look at him, I am reminded why the hectic schedule during a 15-unit semester, combined with four challenges and a full-time job is worth it. Last but not least, I would like to thank my peers at San Jose State. I am rewarded constantly by them telling me how I have motivated them to be driven and to participate in extracurricular activities. It is even more rewarding when they tell me that I inspire them to give back what they have learned to the younger generation of students.
In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.
I would like to thank a few faculty members at San Jose State who have been not only my professors, but also my mentors and friends.
Dr. Ivanov contributed greatly to my academic success. Dr. Ivanov acknowledged me on my very first day at San Jose State. He continually presents opportunities to me to be more engaged within my concentration, maximizing my experience at San Jose State.
Dr. Jones and the experiences he has shared have been a true motivation for me. I hope I will be able to climb as high up as he did and accomplish just as much as he did. I'd like to thank him for taking time with me to discuss my future after SJSU.
Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.
When I was promoted to be the sales manager at one of the companies I used to work for, I learned that increasing the performance of the whole sales staff adds more value than just increasing my own performance. I incorporated this lesson to my time spent at SJSU. I did not focus on my own individual growth and accomplishments, but I focused on distinguishing organizations and teams. I am proud to have been working alongside the Banking and Investment Association officers, the Financial Navigator’s Student Managed Investment Fund, the CFA Investment Research Team, the Economist Case Study Team and the Inter-Collegiate Business Strategy Competition team. Almost every team member that I have worked alongside has received a scholarship or award. They are role models to other students. The drive within these organizations has been contagious and has been attracting students around us to excel.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
You can only be as big as your dreams, so dream big. But keep in mind that you can only take out as much as you put in. So if you did not put in any effort, then there will be no rewards to take out. And from a finance standpoint, we have to sacrifice instant gratification for huge long-term returns, whether the return is monetary or not. If you sacrifice the nights of watching TV, or doing other wasteful activities, and put that time into studying or other challenging activities for a few semesters, you may find that your name and popularity are spreading. The returns will be exponential, and then you may find yourself being invited to lunch or coffee by CEOs of local institutions within your field.
What makes you a Spartan?
What makes me a proud Spartan is that I will not give up without putting up a fight. If I hit a dead end, I will find a way around that obstacle. I face fierce competition with intensive preparation and a well thought out strategy. I may not always win the battles, but I will not give up until I have won the war.
Nominated by Associate Dean Malu Roldan
“A graduating senior, Kenney is an accomplished leader in multiple business organizations at San Jose State University, including the Banking and Investment Association, Financial Navigator Student Managed Investment Fund, CFA Investment Research Challenge team, and the Inter Collegiate Business Strategy Competition team. He is part of a team competing in the Economist Case Competition and has coached the SJSU team that just won the regional CFA Investment Research Challenge (besting teams from Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Santa Clara) and will be competing in the National Championships in mid-April.”