Interviews with the Scholars

Julia St. Germain

School: Fairfield University

RMA Journal: What led you to focus on banking as a career choice?

Julia St. Germain: My dad is a banker and, growing up, I was always fascinated to hear about his day, the projects he worked on, and the overall business model. Because of that, I knew I wanted to study business in college. The career path is strong and one can really go far.

 

RMA Journal: Why was the RMA scholarship important to you?

Julia St. Germain: The scholarship really helps with student debt that I have incurred over the years, and I really liked how this was a specific merit-based scholarship as well. It really targets students looking to go into a particular field, and I love how RMA supports that.

 

RMA Journal: Why are banks important to business, families, and communities?  

Julia St. Germain: Banking products can have monumental impacts on everything from products like micro-loans and micro-financing to commercial loans. Banking gives people opportunities they may never have had otherwise.

 

RMA Journal: How can banks thrive in the future despite challenges from new competitors, especially in the tech world?

Julia St. Germain: Anyone and everyone will always need a bank. While the trend may be to move away from a brick-and-mortar model, it is important to never lose sight of human interaction and contact. While tech is looming to take over the banking space, I think banks can thrive by keeping up engagement and connection with their customers. No technology can replace a real human voice, and I think that will become a high priority along with cybersecurity in the coming years.

John T. Kofmehl

School: Iowa State University

RMA Journal: What led you to focus on banking as a career choice?

John T. Kofmehl: It allows me to combine two of my favorite things: agriculture and helping others. I worked on a farm throughout high school and loved absolutely every minute of it. From that point on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, but because my family had no connections to traditional farming I knew I’d have to go about pursuing my dream in a different manner. My parents suggested talking to our local bank, and I ended up interning at the United Bank of Iowa in my hometown after my freshman year of college. There, I worked on various projects—from helping with agriculture and commercial loans to being a teller and helping customers with their everyday banking needs. After that summer, I felt very comfortable pursuing agriculture banking as a career. 

 

RMA Journal: Why are banks important to business, families, and communities?  

John T. Kofmehl: Coming from a small town, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that many local banks are the heart of their small towns. Strong local banks allow communities to grow and prosper into wonderful places to raise a family and live. These banks and the loans they extend allow families to buy homes and businesses to secure the finances they need to start, expand, and flourish. Banks also make large investments in their communities, whether through donations, sponsoring local activities and groups, or bank employees volunteering their time.

Kristina Lynch

School: Providence College

RMA Journal: What led you to focus on banking as a career choice?

Kristina Lynch: The banking industry was not something I had always considered. I entered college studying biology, to later find I enjoyed some of the problem solving and computational skills but not the entire field. After changing majors to management, I wanted a more computational aspect so I added a second major in finance. Throughout my educational journey, I discovered that I had interest in the banking industry but was not sure what part specifically. After interning in a community bank this past summer with the commercial lending and business banking groups, I accepted a position in a commercial banking training program with a larger bank after I graduate in May.

 

RMA Journal: Why was the RMA scholarship important to you?

Kristina Lynch:  I learned about the scholarship after taking the RMA Credit Essentials course at my college. From there I’ve been working on the credit risk courses as part of the RMA student membership. Such opportunities have continued to grow my passion for the field and keep me excited about the future.

L. Alex Nichols

School: University of Arkansas

RMA Journal: What led you to focus on banking as a career choice?

L. Alex Nichols: I grew up in a small, eastern Arkansas farming town with two locally owned and operated community banks. From a young age, I accompanied my dad, a small business owner, on his seemingly daily visits to our bank. I can remember sitting with my dad in the bank president’s office listening to them discuss economics, interest rates, and the business climate. I really enjoyed these conversations and I consider them fundamental to my decision to go into banking.  Years later, while in high school, that same bank gave me my first job and I was hooked.

 

RMA Journal: Why are banks important to business, families, and communities?

L. Alex Nichols: By acting as the framework of our communities, banks provide the fuel for growth to businesses and the fundamental support to families. For a banker, there is nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to help a small business achieve its goals and watch it grow, or help a family achieve the dream of owning a home. Banks are indispensable elements to the prosperity of all aspects of any economy, big or small.

 

RMA Journal: How can banks thrive in the future despite challenges from new competitors, especially in the tech world?

L. Alex Nichols:Existing banks must actively seek out and implement new, beneficial technologies at both the managerial and customer levels if they want to remain competitive. This poses a problem for smaller, community banks that don’t have the financial resources or manpower for research and development. These institutions have to concentrate all their efforts on enthusiastically adapting to this progressive environment if they wish to serve the next generation of depositors and borrowers.