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Alumni of the Month

Alumni of the Month - February 2011

Sergio Argueta
Joel Simkins

Sergio Argueta - Q&A

What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My experiences as a sociology student and campus leader frame my fondest memories of Hofstra University.  My introduction to the social sciences came by way of a rigorous academic program, under the tutelage of great professors who inspired me to challenge the world.  Simultaneously, while serving as president of Hofstra's Organization of Latin Americans, a student government senator, and community activist, theory quickly became applicable and practice inevitable.  Learning about society and our interactions as human beings enabled me to become an effective agent of change for the betterment of my community and those throughout the northeastern United States. 

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
Upon graduating from Hofstra University, I continued serving as the gang specialist for the Nassau County Youth Board. Within a year I began serving as the full time executive director of S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, Inc. (Struggling To Reunite Our New Generation). 

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
After continuously seeing the futile loss of life due to gun, youth, and gang violence in my community, and those neighboring Hofstra University, I founded S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, Inc.  S.T.R.O.N.G. has become one of the leading gang prevention/intervention agencies throughout the Northeast. Our aim is to educate young people on alternatives to gang life in an effort to prevent gang involvement.  We also develop and implement innovative intervention strategies for previously incarcerated youth who are seeking redirection and redemption.  We recently started our own screen print and embroidery business as a means of offering sheltered employment and opportunities to youth seeking a crime- and gang-free life. 

S.T.R.O.N.G. has resulted in the greatest journey of all, reaching hundreds of thousands of people across our region, the nation, and countries abroad.  I have given keynote addresses at law enforcement conferences, colleges and universities.  Equally, if not more important, are the presentations at correctional facilities, detention centers, group homes, and alternative schools across the globe.  The love for youth and community is what led me to becoming involved in this profession. 

What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Hofstra forged a long-lasting relationship with friends, professors, and administrators who eventually became some of my greatest allies in my quest to create opportunities for youth. 

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
An education within the classroom is only complemented by your active participation in the community, outside the classroom.  A well-rounded student who achieves academic success and contributes to the well-being of society and humanity will get much further in life than one who only excels academically.  As such, make sure you volunteer your time and services and, in the future, pay it forward.  

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Empowering.

How do you plan to use your education for the betterment of society?

Upon earning the Juris Doctor, I look forward to using my education in the areas of policy, public interest, and civil rights law.  I believe that creating a more just society will require a paradigm shift not only of individuals but of systems that lag behind change.  Legal scholarship complemented by civil action, or vice versa, has always resulted in monumental change.  The rule of law has been used to advocate on behalf of social justice, fairness and equality.  It has aided in speaking for the voiceless, fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves, and empowering populations that often feel powerless.  The rule of law in the heart and mind of an activist, organizer, and social worker, who puts community before personal interest, is the essence of the type of lawyer I hope to one day become.

Sergio Argueta

Sergio Argueta (B.A., 2003) is among the youngest and most influential community activists on Long Island. He is founder and executive director of S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, Inc. (Struggling To Reunite Our New Generation), one of the leading gang prevention and intervention agencies in the northeastern United States.

He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in political science from Hofstra University, where he served as president of Hofstra's Organization of Latin Americans and senator in the Student Government Association. He was awarded the Turner Fellowship at Stony Brook University, where he earned a master's degree in social work. Sergio recently became an adjunct criminal justice professor at Nassau Community College, the institution he credits with empowering him through education. He is currently pursuing a Juris Doctor at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.

Sergio has been the subject of many articles published in magazines and newspapers locally, nationally, and internationally, including Scholastic Magazine, New York Newsday, The New York Times, and Florida Sun-Sentinel.  He has appeared on various television and radio shows, including reports on CNN, The O'Reilly Factor, The John Gambling Show, Telemundo, Univision, Hot 97.1 F.M. Street Soldiers, WBAI, and BBC Radio & Television in London.  In 2003 Sergio served as the gang specialist for the Nassau County Youth Board; he is currently one of the leading experts on gangs and youth violence throughout the northeastern United States.

Sergio Argueta is regarded as a compelling speaker who has captured audiences throughout the nation and abroad. He is a charismatic, motivational speaker who transcends all boundaries in reaching his audience. His powerful presentations give profound insight on a host of modern-day issues involving violence, communities, education, and today's youth.

Joel Simkins - Q&A

Q:  Who was your favorite Hofstra professor, and what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
A:  Gioia Bales was my favorite professor at Hofstra. Her finance classes were quite challenging, and I really appreciated her real-world Wall Street experience. I can vividly remember writing my investment research piece for one of her classes on Starbucks, where I had to pitch a stock idea. I have some fond memories of Hofstra, including being a resident assistant for three years, president of the Financial Management Association, and graduating with highest honors.

Q:  What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
A:  I started my career at Moody's Investors Service,where I went through a credit research training program. I was fortunate to have a great boss, who involved me in many high-level learning activities. I was lucky – at 22 years old – to be involved in many meetings with CEOs and CFOs of public companies. I remember sitting in the board room during meetings with big-time executives such as Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of GM and Chrysler, and being amazed that I got to not only shake his hand but also ask real business questions.

Q:  What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
A:  I am currently a leading sell-side equity research analyst covering gaming, lodging, and leisure stocks. While at my first job (Moody's),I was fortunate to spend time working for the gaming, lodging, and leisure analyst, focusing on high-yield bond issues. Clearly, covering casinos was a lot more exciting than just about any industry I could think of. I decided that becoming an expert in casinos and hotels would be an awesome field to follow, particularly given long-term growth prospects and a fairly unique niche to study.

Q:  What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
A:  I learned that networking is an essential tool to career development. I was fortunate at Hofstra to have some good mentors and acquire early internship exposure to formulate my own specific interest in the field of finance.

Q:  What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
A:  Don't wait until graduation to figure out what you want to do. Start looking today for internships and other learning opportunities that will differentiate you from your peers at Hofstra and other universities. It's an incredibly competitive job market, and you need to separate yourself from the pack. Building a strong resume today is critical, and you will need some experience, in addition to good grades, to get a job. The world is full of online networking opportunities, whether through Facebook or Linked In, but building meaningful, lasting, and personal relationships is still more valuable than what these mediums can provide. Many of the people you know today, or will meet right after graduation, will form the foundation of your career network for many years to come.

Q:  In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
A: Opportunity.

Q:  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A:  Retired. In all seriousness, though, I could see myself running a hedge fund portfolio. My buy-side experience was one of the most memorable and challenging periods of my career. I could also see myself working on the corporate side as a senior executive (CEO, CFO, or development head) at a gaming or lodging company. It would be an interesting challenge to take my Wall Street skills and try to apply them in the "real world" of a corporation. From my current position, it's easy to tell a company how it should be run, but I'm sure that actually doing so is much harder.

Joel Simkins

When Joel Simkins (B.B.A.,'98) was studying banking and finance at Hofstra, he never envisioned becoming an expert in the gaming and leisure industry. Joel's experience as an undergraduate student at Hofstra offered him a unique opportunity to gain applicable networking and social skills.

During his time at Hofstra, Joel served as a resident assistant for three years and was president of the Financial Management Association. Joel graduated from Hofstra in 1998 with highest honors.

As a Hofstra student, Joel interned at VZB Partners, a hedge fund managed by a Hofstra alumnus, where he gained real-world experience that shaped his career interests. Joel's finance experience includes being a senior associate at Moody's Investors Service, associate analyst for Bear Stearns, associate analyst for Deutsche Bank Securities, vice president and senior gaming and leisure analyst for Prudential Equity Group, as well as managing director and senior gaming and leisure analyst for Macquarie Capital. Joel is a frequent guest speaker on Bloomberg Television and CNBC, where he discusses the gaming and lodging industries.

In 2009 Institutional Investor magazine named Joel Simkins "the best up and coming gaming and lodging analyst on Wall Street." Joel joined Credit Suisse Securities in August 2010 and currently serves as director-senior gaming, lodging, and leisure analyst.

Joel credits Hofstra University with offering him the opportunity to advance in his financial career. He serves as a role model for current Hofstra students hoping to excel in finance. He believes his educational experience at Hofstra was a vital component in gaining the necessary skills to succeed in finance, and favors internship opportunities for students as crucial to acquiring valuable knowledge and experience. Joel aspires to one day become CEO of a hospitality company, and to bring the skills he gained at Hofstra with him.