Business student earns elite Schwab internship

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

You can learn a lot about Adrianna Romero just by the way she dresses for her Grand Canyon University classes.

You can learn even more from how she talks about it.

“I dress up for school every day because school is my job,” she said. “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. School is my job. Business is my job. You either have it or you don’t. Show your professors you want to be there. I take it very seriously.”

Adrianna Romero has a dress-for-success approach to college and plans to continue to apply it to her career.

It shouldn’t surprise you that she’s a business administration major. All business, right?

And given what you’ve learned in the previous four paragraphs, it also shouldn’t be much of a stunner to know that she is one of only 14 students in the country chosen for the Schwab Advisor Services RIA Summer Internship Program this summer. This is one focused young lady.

But that’s where her story’s predictability ends.

For starters, she expected to attend college on an athletic scholarship. She played volleyball and basketball in high school, but her specialties were cross country and track and field.

She set school records in track. She won district titles. She competed in the Down Under Games in Australia at age 14. That earned her 11 track/cross country dual scholarship offers, but when it came time to choose a university, her mind ran through a reality check and academics, not athletics, won out.

“In high school my total mindset was, ‘I’m going to be a collegiate athlete.’ That’s what it always was,” she said. “I decided I needed to take a step back. That’s the old me, and I needed to focus academic-wise.”

Another twist: Romero didn’t come to GCU as a business student. She was pre-med.

“I was a science person in high school,” she said. “I didn’t really dip into business until I took a couple of business courses.”

And just the simple fact that she’s attending college in densely populated west Phoenix is a surprise. She grew up on a ranch in Capitan, New Mexico, population 1,518, and raised livestock to competitively show in state, county and regional events.

The pool at The Grove is an attractive place for freshmen to hang out.

Romero was born in Albuquerque, 2½ hours northwest of Capitan, and “I go there all the time so it’s not a big deal to be in a city,” she said. “But living in one is quite the culture shock when you first start – driving and people and traffic.”

So she was focused from day one as she transitioned from the tiny town to the big city, right? Guess again. She had applied to all the Arizona colleges (“I like the heat,” she said), but initially she took it easy while warming up to her new home.

“I was one of those freshmen who had a 3.9 and didn’t study too hard,” she said. “I was always hanging out at the Grove pool and enjoying life, going to all the gatherings and basketball games.”

It all changed when she returned to campus for her sophomore year. She wanted to join a club and decided to see what the Finance and Economics Club was all about.

“This is very interesting,” she thought.

She was so interested, in fact, she changed her major and sought out leadership positions. This year, Romero is President of the Finance/Econ Club, Vice President of Operations for the Colangelo Scholars and a due diligence lead for the Canyon Angels investment group.

“I think it’s crazy how introverted and uninvolved I was freshman year to where I am now,” she said.

Mark Jacobson (left) goes out of his way to help students but says Romero helped him set a new standard for his Finance and Economics Club leaders.

She has progressed to the point where one of her mentors, Colangelo College of Business (CCOB) instructor Mark Jacobson, marvels at how polished and professional she is when she leads presentations, which she has done enthusiastically numerous times.

It gives him hope that Romero and women like her can diversify the male-dominated financial services industry. He has been so impressed, in fact, that he has a new policy for those who will follow in her footsteps in the Finance and Economics Club, which he supervises.

“One of my standards that I have going forward, and it’s going to be based on her, is that my club leaders all have to want to get up and talk to (GCU President) Brian Mueller,” Jacobson said. “You’re going to have to be confident in your ability to have that conversation.”

But while she’s still at GCU, she’s very much part of the conversation for CCOB Dean Dr. Randy Gibb:

“As we approach Commencement each year, I wonder how we will ever replace the amazing seniors we have graduating, and then along comes a student equally impressive, if not more so.  Adrianna is one such student as she has simply blossomed into an outstanding, confident and driven finance student. 

“Her Charles Schwab internship validates her efforts and certainly takes to the next level the college’s finance reputation that Chair Mark Jacobson has created. I’m so proud of what Adrianna has accomplished, but I know there is still so much she is going to do before graduating from CCOB.”

What she has now, eight months from that achievement, is perspective. Listen to her talk, and you see why she was chosen to lead. You see why she was chosen for the Schwab program. And you see why it’s as if she was chosen in God’s perfect tableau of life to attend GCU. You see it all.

Dr. Randy Gibb, Dean of the Colangelo College of Business, sees new leaders emerge from his college every year.

She is thankful for Jacobson and Alan Klibanoff and the rest of the CCOB faculty:

“Every single professor I have met has been fabulous. Whether that’s an adjunct or they’re the head of their department, I legitimately couldn’t just pick who influenced me the most because I’ve had influence from every single one of them. From accounting to finance to econ to management to business, it’s all just so awesome. You can walk in a professor’s office and they know you by name.”

She is thankful for the GCU campus in general:

“It helps your social skills to be here. This is like Disneyland.”

She is thankful for her parents, Mark and Rose Ann Romero, and her grandparents, Richard and Gena Purcella. Adrianna is an only child and a first-generation college student, and Mark coached her in track and showing livestock.

“My parents have been my biggest mentors. They pushed me so hard in school. They’re definitely my biggest inspiration.”

And she is ready to apply her thankfulness to what’s ahead. She’d like to be a philanthropist someday, but for now she’s focused on helping people her age. The recent developments with GameStop and Robinhood are Exhibit A of why she wants to become a certified financial planner.

That day figures to come soon enough. For now, Adrianna Romero is all dressed up with lots of places to go.

First stop, the Schwab internship, which begins in June.

Second stop, GCU graduation in December, which means she’ll get to take advantage of the new Charles Schwab Foundation Finance Center.

And after that, who knows?

“I’d like to be a senior leader in an organization,” she said.

"She knows what she wants, and she’s going to get it," Jacobson said.

The race is just beginning. But she’s on the right track.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


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