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By: Leila Ugincius

Before last summer, Christopher Bagenda’s only job experience was at grocery stores and gyms. But there he was, in New York City, starting an internship with global financial giant Citi.

“I came in knowing absolutely nothing,” the Virginia Commonwealth University finance major said. “I was very nervous my first couple of days.”

On top of that, of the 30 bank interns, most were from Ivy League schools.

“I’m around all these very highly qualified individuals who are the presidents of their schools’ investing clubs. They came from The Wharton School, a buddy of mine came from Cornell — like all these very well-known, notable schools,” Bagenda said. “And I was the only one there having to explain ‘Why Virginia Commonwealth University?’ and what Richmond was and all that. So I felt a bit insecure.”

Now? Not so much. Bagenda, who still works at the Cary Street Gym, impressed his directors so much that he received a full-time job offer upon graduating this May – an impressive next stop on what has been a global journey.

Bagenda and his family immigrated to the United States from Uganda in 2010, when he was about 7. He lived in Northern Virginia until coming to VCU. He considered studying psychology and then economics, because he liked the way “the markets, money and all those things work together,” he said.

But Bagenda became more interested in how people interact with money, how they can accumulate wealth and how money can be used to benefit people. He took finance classes as a sophomore and further explored personal finance, and he started investing more.

“And I really fell in love with it,” Bagenda said. “And I really just wanted to do that because I found the most joy in it.”

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