Each year, we spotlight our Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar Seniors. We enjoy hearing about their journey through the program and how their perspective on the importance of sound policy evolved when combined with their own academic interests. This year, we asked our incoming and current scholars to interview the seniors and were delighted by the conversations captured.
Daniel Covert ’23 interviewed Marina Leventis ’21 to learn more about her experience as a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar and how she was able to combine her passions for finance and political debate through the program.
Why did you decide to join the Tower Scholars Program?
After ending my high school debate career as both first in the nation and Texas state champion, I decided I needed to move on from my strictly competitive aspirations in debate and find a way to connect my research and skills to something meaningful. The Tower Scholars Program (TSP) was a perfect fit as it allowed me to major in finance and continue applying my critical thinking skills. Through TSP, I have bridged the gap between the political landscape and financial markets and have uniquely been able to understand business from both perspectives. Additionally, TSP allowed me to explore my interests outside of finance, particularly in regard to the Middle East and the rise of China.
How has the Tower Scholars Program impacted your SMU Experience?
Through the TSP, I have been exposed to much more academically than in any other class. From Gateway to Global Policymaking, where we simulated the National Security Council, to the Junior Year Policy Seminars, where we learned several theories and applied them with our client in DC, I have expanded my research, critical thinking, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. Having worked for both the Middle East Institute as a class and the National Defense Industrial Association for my practicum, I was able to gain experience in and understand what a career in public policy and international affairs would look like. I have also been able to take with me the skills acquired through PPIA into other classes as well as business opportunities throughout my time as an undergraduate. Speaking from personal experience as well as professional experience as the BBA Women in Business President, employers are very interested in students having well rounded collegiate careers and bringing new and useful talents like memo-style writing and negotiation skills that are fostered in TSP.
What are you hoping to accomplish after graduation?
Post-graduation, I will be working for Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a strategic procurement analyst. In this job, I will be exposed to contract law as well as be able to practice negotiation, which I hope will materialize into law school and ultimately a legal career. After starting out at HPE, I hope to practice transactional law for “Big Law” firms, and perhaps be in-house counsel for a bank or financial services firm one day.
Marina Leventis is majoring in Finance and minoring in History and Public Policy & International Affairs. While at SMU, she interned at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Goldman Sachs and completed a practicum with the National Defense Industrial Association.