Saint Mary launches scholarship program for future investors

The University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, is launching a full-ride scholarship program for students interested in learning how to invest and trade financial securities.

The program, known as the Spires Trading Team, will consist of five current USM students who will trade securities on a daily basis during the 2021-2022 academic year under the oversight of Kevin Fox, former managing director at the D.E. Shaw Group, and Harold Bradley, former chief investment officer of the Kauffman Foundation. Any proceeds from the team’s efforts will be used to support Spires Trading Team activities and scholarships.

The new Spires Trading Team program provides USM students with real-world experience while they earn their degrees.

“The University of Saint Mary is excited to offer this hands-on opportunity for our students to learn trading strategies from local experts,” University President Sister Diane Steele said. “The Spires Trading Team is a win-win for our students. Investing real money will give our students a competitive advantage in their careers and will provide additional opportunities to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom. This unique partnership extends USM’s mission of helping students realize their God-given potential.”

The Spires Trading team will focus on investment theory, fund and risk management, and hands-on trading strategies. The program is open to USM seniors, juniors, and qualified second-semester sophomores. The five selected students will receive a scholarship that covers tuition, housing, and meal plans at the university’s main campus in Leavenworth.

Phil Watlington, USM accounting program director and assistant professor, will serve as a coach of the Spires Trading Team. Nicole Hess-Escalante, chair of the USM Division of Business and Information Technologies and associate professor, will provide direction and oversee academic integration of the program.

Students interested in joining the Spires Trading Team for the 2021-2022 academic year can apply at An initial review of applications will begin Aug. 1.

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