By YUJIA YAO ——
CLAREMONT, Calif. – After two industry meetings for materials, industrials, and utilities on a recent Sunday, Roma Forest returned to her dorm room and checked on her personal investments in the U.S. stock market. It was a hobby she began when she was 3.
Forest remembers sitting on her father’s huge armchair as a child and listening to him tell her about personal finance. The ambitious little capitalist started building her own portfolio when she had her father buy her several stocks for her fourth birthday.
“The one thing that I really want to do with my life is to travel to so many different places and to see everything that’s out there, beyond the sunset horizon,” said Forest, the stock analyst for the Student Investment Fund at Claremont McKenna College and the creator of XYZeconomics, a website to share her knowledge of personal wealth management.
The Student Investment Fund is a student-run organization with assets of $1.65 million. SIF aims to teach its members about business, investing and portfolio management while earning risk-adjusted returns in the stock market, according to the Student Investment Fund Constitution.
Forest, a sophomore at CMC, was recruited to SIF in her freshman year. This year she started working as a junior analyst and the director of events. Forest is also working at least 20 hours a week on campus for various departments. She describes her work-life balance as quite isolating, because of her lack of time and unwillingness to spend extra money during college years.
“It could be very tiring and very isolating, but I feel it can also be very rewarding in the end because I know every dollar I put away goes towards my lifelong dream,” she said.
It is not just a dream. In 2014, Forest’s family sold everything they owned including their house and cars, to take a year-long journey through Asia.
During her stay in Asia, Forest and her family visited Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and other countries and regions. The most memorable trip was to Taiwan where Forest’s grandmother was born and brought up before coming to the U.S..
Forest had a complex relationship with her grandmother. She did not want to be part of her grandmother’s culture and did not enjoy her early experience in a Chinese school because of her white appearance. But as she grew up, she began to realize how much effort her grandmother put into maintaining a relationship with her, and Forest gradually grew much closer to her.
Encouraged by her grandmother, Forest understands and respects cultural differences. She served as the ambassador of the Chumash nation during a trip to Australia.
Forest and her grandmother promised each other to go back to Taiwan together, and to reunite with their Taiwanese family on Forest’s 16th birthday. Regretfully, her grandmother died of brain cancer before they could make the journey.