The donor's commitment to students stems from her continued connection to, and empathy for, their experiences.http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/new_2017news/Laighold_94x84.jpg
For Brooklyn College Foundation Trustee and UBS Executive Lorraine Laighold '64, Students Matter Most
Mar. 23, 2017
When asked why she is such a generous supporter of Brooklyn College, giving of her time and talent as well as her financial sponsorship, Lorraine Laighold '64, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn College Foundation, said it is wholly because of the students.
"They're me," said Laighold, senior vice president, certified financial planner and financial advisor in the Lexington Group at the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), "I recognize myself in them. I know who they are," she added, recalling her own Brooklyn upbringing in a working-class family of "modest means", which, she said, is "another way of saying ‘poor.'"
The grandchild of immigrants, and the first and only woman in her family to attend college, Laighold realized the privilege of being able to do so, given her family's fiscal situation and the pressure for her to go to work as soon as possible to add to the family's income. "There's this notion that Jewish people are all rich," Laighold says. "My family was devastated by the Great Depression and they never really let go of the mentality that such devastation creates."
But Brooklyn College's reputation for being an academically rigorous institution, coupled with tuition that was free at the time, made all of the difference in her family's decision to sacrifice on her behalf.
"I received my B.A. in economics, though I had no idea what I was going to do professionally," said Laighold. "I just knew that in 1964, if you graduated with a college degree, you were sure to secure employment of some kind."
She eventually moved to California where she worked for an insurance firm before becoming a counselor for social services. Upon returning to New York, she became a special education teacher, even though her degree was in another area entirely.
"I had never taken an education course in my life. But what I learned at Brooklyn College was how to work," Laighold noted. "That is, the college taught me how to bring my intelligence and skills to whatever job I was doing, irrespective of the subject matter. I just knew I could do whatever I set my mind to because I had the benefit of the great education the college offered and my own family's work ethic."
While working as an educator, Laighold obtained two master's degrees, one in special education from Fordham University and one in administration from Columbia University. Seeking greater opportunities, she eventually moved on from teaching and entered the world of finance, bringing her back to the roots she established with her Brooklyn College degree.
Laighold has been in the finance industry for 32 years and has played a crucial role in forging the relationship between UBS and her alma mater. Through her collaboration with the college's Magner Career Center and Murray Koppelman School of Business, she created the Lorraine Laighold Summer Leadership Academy, in which she imparts what she has learned to students. Working with the Magner Center's director Natalia Guarin-Klein, Laighold also instituted the connection between UBS and the center's internship program, allowing Brooklyn College students to gain valuable, hands-on experience working at one of the largest and most respected banks in the world's financial center.
It was Laighold's involvement with the center that was the biggest blessing to senior John Morrison. Morrison, who always had an affinity for numbers and an interest in assessing and overcoming the risks involved in the global economy, learned of internship opportunities at UBS during a Magner Career Center networking event organized by Guarin-Klein. He jumped at the chance to apply, and he is now interning in the wealth management division of the company, where Laighold's advisory group resides. "I think being able to put such a reputable company as UBS on your résumé is invaluable," Morrison said.
"Meeting and working for the management and staff, and developing those relationships,has already given me a significant advantage for when I enter the marketplace full-time."
Morrison had already been participating in the college's M.D. Sass Investment Institute, where students make real-time investments in the market, analyze and manage securities portfolios, and pitch new securities to the investment panel. Morrison said Professor and Department of Finance Chair Sunil Mohanty, and Herbert Kurz Endowed Chair in Finance and Risk Management, Associate Professor, and Sass Institute faculty advisor Hyuna Park were instrumental in igniting his passion and opening up the business world to him.
Morrison is also member of the Tamid Beta Group at Brooklyn College, a student organization that "exists to develop the professional skills of undergraduate students through hands-on interaction with the Israeli economy." He will be receiving his Bachelor of Science in public accounting and business, management and finance in May at the 2017 Brooklyn College Commencement Exercises, where alumnus and Senator Bernie Sanders is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. Morrison's plan is to become a financial analyst, and he is working with both Guarin-Klein and his mentors at UBS to secure opportunities.
"I want to operate behind the scenes," he said of his future aspirations. "I want to go into companies to discover what they might be doing wrong, why they may be doing it wrong, determine what they could be doing better, and ensure that they are meeting ethical standards for both the public and the shareholders."
Laighold has no doubt that students like Morrison will, like her, have no problem succeeding at whatever good they set their minds to.
"Brooklyn College students are strivers. That's what they are. They're strivers."
The Magner Career Center, founded by Marge Magner '69, is able to provide students like John Morrison with the assistance, skills, values, and opportunities essential to fulfilling their career aspirations thanks to the generous support of alumni and friends received through the Brooklyn College Foundation. To make a charitable donation to the Magner Career Center, please visit the website.