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Economics Network Event Connects Students and Alumni

The event also celebrated Professor of Economics Sanford Ikeda, who’s retiring at the end of this year.

More than two dozen alumni, students, and faculty gathered in the Student Service Building’s Red Room to hear from three inspiring alumni and to network casually over appetizers on Thursday, April 27.

The event was organized in conjunction with the Economics Club. Its president, James Panyko ’23, welcomed the audience, and Associate Professor of Economics Cédric Ceulemans introduced the alumni speakers.

The first speaker, Devon Donohue ’19, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School in 2022 after graduating summa cum laude from Purchase. He’s now a first-year attorney at the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

Donohue credits the Law and Economy class he took senior year for providing the impetus to pursue a career in law. He’s the first in his family to do so.

At first trepidatious about attending an Ivy League law school, he shared how the preparation he received at Purchase allowed him “to feel at home in an elite program alongside elite students” and “confident in my abilities.”

“You can get as great an education here as anywhere,” he assured the students, “the program is what you want to make of it.”

Lynn (Qingmao) Lin ’14 spoke about her journey to Citadel, the investment firm she joined in late 2020. Serving on a Finance and Accounting team that supports the CEO and CFO, she arrived just months before leadership had to testify before Congress due to the GameStop investment drama.

Arriving in the US from China as an au pair, Lin recalls living in Tarrytown and commuting to campus two hours each way by bus, which allowed her plenty of time to read and improve her English. Not entirely sure what Economics was, she soon “adopted an economics way of thinking” and wrote her senior project on the pricing strategy of Apple products in different markets.

Also graduating summa cum laude, Lin attended Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, where she earned an MA in Accounting. But her experiences have pushed her to move beyond the numbers, as she “wants to understand why we do what we do.” She’s now attending NYU to earn an MBA, sponsored by Citadel.

“I love learning and being around smart people. And understanding business will help me in the long run.”

At Purchase, Lin belonged to the Economics and Investment Analysis Clubs.

The final speaker was David Settanni, CFA ’09, currently the CFO at Settanni Financial. After a rocky start to his college career prior to Purchase, Settanni found his groove and graduated cum laude with an Economics major and a minor in Political Science.

At Purchase, he was a member of the Economics Club and the Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do Club and served as a teaching assistant, while he worked at Northwestern Mutual Insurance and Wells Fargo Financial.

After graduation, Settanni joined the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as an economist before becoming a private wealth manager and tax advisor at his family’s firm, where he’s now CFO.

The advice Settanni shared with students was simple.

“Get a phone number” and “leverage the network,” explaining, “If the person has time and a heart, they’ll say ‘yes’ and speak with you.”

He encouraged the students to believe in themselves, urging, “There’s no reason you can’t go out and get those jobs. They went for it,” referring to his fellow alumni working at major firms.

Asked how he handles stress, Settanni shared that he meditates, works out, and leans on his network of people by picking up the phone for conversations. And he finds inspiration from a unique source—an audiobook by rapper and business mogul 50 Cent, Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter.

Professor Ikeda thanked Settanni for his continued support of the Economics program, grateful for his spiritual and financial support and the time he’s devoted.

“I want Purchase to succeed. It makes my degree more valuable.”

Charissa Mosca ’17, who currently works for the hedge fund Point72 after a previous stint at Kraken Digital Asset Exchange, gave the students a final word of encouragement.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. I took a lot of risks, and they paid off.”