UWW alumni spotlight: Chad Adams, '13

Completing a focus in Financial Management only strengthened 27 year old Chad Adams' already successful career in the financial services industry.  Serving as the Accounts Vice President and Portfolio Manager for Keystone Wealth Management at UBS in Alaska, Chad is an innovator in his company.  In addition to helping families and organizations meet their financial goals, he is also a panelist on a radio show and podcast with his father.  He has also chosen as the 2013 UWW student commencement speaker (view his speech here). Chad was recently accepted to the Master's of Science program in Banking and Finance at Boston University, which he will begin this fall.  His concentration: Financial Management.  His advisor: Mitch Boucher.

Every non-traditional age student has a story. What’s your story?  

My first go around with college left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and chip on my shoulder about the value of higher learning. That is, until the perfect storm occurred and presented me the opportunity to become UMass Minuteman through the UWW program.  At 27 I'm a bit of whippersnapper, at least by UWW standards.  Although, spending the better part of the last decade in the financial industry has felt more like dog years, so I fit in just fine. 

Why did you choose UMass Amherst UWW to complete your degree? 

Being an adult learner, I never thought I would be able to earn a degree from an institution like UMass Amherst.  I knew that my schedule would not allow me to be able to attend a top brick and mortar school because of all my personal and professional commitments.  There is no way that I could have run back and forth to class at all hours of the day.  Mind you, that's assuming that the school offered the classes that I needed to advance my major that semester because it seemed like those courses were only offered in odd numbered leap years and if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.  Additionally, I was not aware that schools of UMass Amherst's caliber offered online programs.  I thought I was destined to graduate from East 100th and Plowed Dirt Online University with a degree in "No One Will Ever Take You Seriously Studies.” 

When I finally came across the UWW program at UMass Amherst and learned about the process, I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.

What was the best part about being a UWW student for you? 

For me, the core of the UWW program was the facilitation of creating and understanding the synergy between experience and education; too much of one without a commensurate amount of the other can detract from one's perspective.  When one achieves a balance between the two elements, the path to true mastery is illuminated.

 What are you studying? 

My Area of Concentration is Financial Management.  I've never been a fan of "General Education" requirements; I always felt that I could round out my education after I was established in the financial world and on the tail-end of my midlife crisis.  So when I found out that I would have to take a few extra courses to satisfy degree requirements, I was not pleased.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful the professors were and how engaged I felt from thousands of miles away.  The North American Indigenous Peoples Studies course that welcomed me to UMass, masterfully taught by Professor Alice Nash, completely rewrote my understanding and perspective of American history. 

What’s been your favorite class at UMass Amherst? 

Outside of the UWW process, I loved my Finance course led by Professor Nelson Lacey.  I really got a chance to help the other students who didn't have as much experience in the field as myself and it inspired me to seek out a teaching position in the future.  As I watched the recordings of the class being taught in person here in Amherst, I remember thinking to myself, "These kids have no idea how lucky they are to have access to educators of this caliber, and that yahoo in the third row is asleep every darn week!"

If you’ve written a prior learning portfolio, what’s been the best part of that process for you? 

My PLP has actually changed the way we manage money for our clients.  I know this may sound melodramatic, but it's true; the UWW program and the PLP process have affected the lives of hundreds of families for generations to come. 

What have been the benefits of taking your classes online? 

I was astonished by how much access I had to my professors at UMass Amherst through the online program; other programs, including the United States Air Force Academy, which touts its access to professors and small classroom sizes, pale in comparison to creating a truly personalized educational experience.  Even though I was thousands of miles and 4 time zones away, I felt like I was right there in Amherst. 

How do you balance work, school and community?   

Simple, don't sleep.  How many great stories go like this: "So, there I was sleeping.  The End"?

What advice do you have for other students finishing their degrees? 

If you're finishing your degree from UMass UWW take a moment and think about what how unique and special this experience has been.  Remember all of the other formal educational experiences you've had, whether at a brick and mortar school or another online program, and ask yourself how many changed your life in the way the UMass UWW program did.  I'll wait…

What are your future plans professionally and personally? 

This experience is a bit bittersweet because thanks to the UWW program, I will be pursuing my Graduate Degree in the fall and I fear that it will not live up to the new benchmark of excellence that the UWW program set.

Tell readers something cool about yourself that no one would guess about you? 

I am a huge geek.  You'll find me with a smile on my face that the Cheshire Cat would be proud of if I'm reading a comic, playing a video game, watching a horrible made-for-TV sci-fi flick, creating a slideshow presentation, or neck-deep in a spreadsheet. 

Please add anything else you want people to know about you, your family, and your story.

I could not have accomplished this long overdue goal without the support and love of my wife; my business partner, who also happens to be my father; my mother; my grandfather; my company; and my friends.  We did it team!