Commencement 2018: Senior to pursue MBA at URI

North Kingstown resident excels at home and abroad

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Alexander Gershkoff
Alexander Gershkoff. Photo by Randy Osga

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 7, 2018 — When Alexander Gershkoff arrived on the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston Campus, he said “it just felt like home.” The senior finance major knew immediately upon touring the school that he wanted to stay here. More than that, he wanted others to get that same feeling.

“I became a tour guide so that I could show incoming and prospective students why this is such a great place to live and learn,” Gershkoff said. “It makes me proud to show people what URI has to offer.”

Though it was his first time living apart from his twin sister Julia, who chose to attend college in upstate New York, Gershkoff quickly found his place at URI. While many students choose to live off-campus for the majority of their academic career, Gershkoff lived on campus for three of his four years. In addition to the shorter commute, Gershkoff said he preferred living on campus because it gave him better access to the library, where he does his best studying.

Spending countless hours in the library paid off for Gershkoff, who made Dean’s List and the Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society. He was also part of URI’s Honors Program.

Though the North Kingstown native decided to attend college close to home, he’s not exactly a homebody. Gershkoff took advantage of URI’s study abroad and Alternative Spring Break programs to see other parts of the world.

Rather than spending Spring Break partying in Cancun in 2016, Gershkoff traveled to Birmingham, Ala., where he participated with Habitat for Humanity to construct affordable housing as part of the Honors Program.

“I was taking a class on diversity and poverty, so we went to Birmingham and really saw it first-hand,” Gershkoff said. “It was surreal to be able to make an impact on a place that needs it.”

During his study abroad semester in 2017, Gershkoff traveled to 10 countries and 25 cities in Europe while studying at Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain.

“I mostly used the time to get some general education credits studying art, but I also got to study multinational finance,” he said. “I got to see in person how exchange rates and monetary issues affect economics.”

Through his course studies, Gershkoff has found himself leaning toward a career in personal finance, influenced in part by his participation in the Ram Fund, a class in the College of Business in which students develop and implement a prudent long-term investment strategy for an endowment of $100,000 provided by the URI Alumni Association.

Gershkoff was part of the class that purchased stock in Avexis, a clinical-stage gene therapy biotech company, which was later bought by Novartis, a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company. The $8.7 billion deal sent Avexis stock price soaring to $220 from $128, a massive score for the student-run portfolio.

“I was a Ram Fund analyst and that was a great gain for us,” he said. “That’s something that interests me now because that was probably the best class I took.”

It wasn’t just the great experiences that helped shape Gershkoff’s outlook. A sophomore-year internship had as much to do with guiding him toward the future as the Ram Fund. Gershkoff interned at Northwestern Mutual, where he served as a financial representative. He earned licenses to sell health and life insurance and helped clients find policies to suit their needs.

“That was more on the selling side, and I found out that wasn’t my favorite,” Gershkoff said. “But the internship was incredibly valuable because I learned what I don’t want to do.”

Gershkoff still hasn’t pinpointed what he’d like to do in his post-graduate career, but for now, he knows he still wants to learn. He’ll be pursuing his master of business administration in the One-Year MBA in Strategic Innovation program at URI’s Feinstein College of Education and Professional studies on the Providence Campus beginning in the fall.

“I’m excited about the MBA program and doing a capstone project,” he said. “I enjoy learning, so I’m going to keep doing that for now.