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Rev. Edward H. Finnegan, SJ, Award winner, Gerrel Olivier. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Six to Remember: Gerrel Olivier

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By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff
Published: May 12, 2010
Hometown: Randolph, Mass.

Major: Finance and economics

Notable Activities: Shaw Leadership Program, Emerging Leaders Program, AHANA Management Academy President (2008-09), AHANA Leadership Council Volunteer Corps Director, Finance Academy Vice president (2008-09), Boston College All Male Step Team co-captain, Turkey Creek, Mississippi Service Initiative volunteer, Mustard Seed Community program, Boston Public Schools Homeless Student Initiative volunteer, summer intern at Goldman Sachs, Wellington Management Company LLP and Morgan Stanley, Carroll School of Management Honors Program

Post-Graduation Plans: Joining Morgan Stanley full time in New York City as an analyst in the Investment Banking Division, Mergers and Acquisitions Group

Overview: As a child, he sold candy in a general store in St. Lucia. By the time he was young man, he was brushing elbows with the financial titans on Wall Street. This year's winner of the Rev. Edward H. Finnegan, SJ, Award - given to the senior who exemplifies the University's motto "Ever to Excel" - has infused service into a promising career in finance. A selfless mentor, outspoken student leader and tireless scholar, among his many service projects, Olivier has made it a point to establish a microfinance organization to launch small businesses in the Caribbean and South America - helping others achieve their big dreams.

How have your activities influenced your four years at Boston College?
I thoroughly believe that the activities I have been involved in while at BC have essentially made my experience. I attribute much, if not all, of my success at BC to my co-curricular involvement, as it allowed me to formulate everlasting friendships with other students and faculty members while serving as the foundation for my academic-intellectual and social growth.

What spurred your interest in microfinance and is this still a focus for you now or in the future?
Throughout college, I had always been looking for a way to balance my professional endeavors with my commitment to service and found that the concept of microfinance would do both.  I am currently writing my thesis on the implications of loan diversification amongst microfinance institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. I traveled to St. Lucia for winter break and spent three weeks visiting various institutions with microfinance arms as well as various clients of these institutions. At the end of the visit, and after reflecting on my interactions, I started an initiative called "Project Enterprise." This initiative is a pilot project to further economic growth and development in the Caribbean, especially in my family's home countries of Haiti and St. Lucia. Three colleagues and I successfully built a complete set of financial models, developed a business plan, and disbursed our first microloan in attempt to help a local mother in an impoverished community establish a small "fast-food stop," specializing in traditional Caribbean food.

Which faculty members/mentors have had the greatest effect on you?
I would say that the two faculty members that have had the greatest effect on me would be Fr. Richard McGowan (Adjunct Associate Professor, Economics Department) and Amy LaCombe (Senior Lecturer, CSOM).

In addition to being my thesis advisor, I have taken Father McGowan for three of my undergraduate courses in the field of management and economics. Each of these experiences has been extraordinarily enlightening and I firmly believe that Father McGowan makes learning an exciting classroom experience. He always makes himself available for the students, and very much values relationships outside the classroom. Father McGowan is the type of professor that encourages students to enjoy learning while making sure that he prepares his students for the real world.

Amy LaCombe is one of the most dynamic professors that I have met during my time at BC. She has been an advisor and supporter.  She stops at nothing to ensure that students make the most of their college experience - especially by excelling in the classroom and participating in extra curricular activities. She makes you want to do well. 

Do you think Boston College has made an impact on your life? If so, how?
I firmly believe that the academic and social experiences that I have had at BC has prepared me for the real world. It has also taught me to how to value the person as a whole and has provided me with opportunities that I would have never imagined having prior to enrolling in 2006.

What do you think you'll miss most about BC?

The people. I will miss my fellow BC students and all the faculty and staff that I have interacted with during my time here. They played a major role in shaping my BC experience and contributed to my success. I will embrace those relationships forever.

To read our next 'Six to Remember' senior, click here: http://bit.ly/ddgG8N