Before the news of city-wide school cancellations due to COVID-19 was announced, Fieldston’s all-female finance team already knew that they would not be going to San Francisco for the regional finale of the Knowledge@WhartonHighSchool Investment Competition (KWHS). The team, aptly named Females in Finance, is composed of four women: Rosemary Jiang (‘21), Olivia Pollack (‘21), Vivian Lee (‘22), and Natalie Chen (‘22).
On January 17, 2020, Rosemary, the team leader, got an e-mail in her inbox stating that theteam had advanced to the next stage of the competition. Olivia recalls, “my family was in the car when we found out the exciting news and the shouts of joy could definitely be heard all across the highway.” To the team’s delight, they were one of the 12 teams out of over 500 to advance to the Region 3 finale in San Francisco. The finale entailed flying to San Francisco to give a 10-minute presentation followed by a Q&A to a panel of experts. And so, the team immediately began to work on the presentation. The women met every Monday and Sunday to craft the script and presentation. After a first draft had been created, the team presented to a group of teachers and classmates to receive feedback. But, their efforts had in part been in vain. When news of the Coronavirus began to spread, the team had immediate concerns. In the following weeks, the first US case was found and then later, a case in California.
The team had been looking forward to and preparing for the competition for months. However, they were well aware of the growing health concerns of COVID-19. “The team’s health and safety is our number one priority. Canceling the trip was a tough but necessary decision to make,” says Rosemary. The team opted to send in a video in place of an in-person presentation.
Later, KWHS officially canceled all in-person presentations and announced that the competition would be conducted virtually. Luckily, the Females in Finance Team had already started putting together their video and were well ahead of the curve. The team was able to shoot their group introduction the day before their school was shut down. For the rest of the video editing-process, all communications were done through Facetime.
Virtual communication posed numerous challenges. Unfortunately, they could not reshoot the introduction, as meeting in-person was not plausible. Additionally, the members had to record their voice-overs separately which resulted in inconsistent audio quality. Nonetheless, through meticulous editing, a video was produced and submitted on March 16, 2020, well before the deadline.
In addition to the competition, the team’s outreach initiatives have also been stunted by COVID-19. In an effort to spread their mission, the team established the Girls Investment Finance & Trading club (GIFT) in the Fieldston Middle School. The club met every Monday with the goal of helping middle school girls become financially literate. But, this project is being challenged by the viral outbreak and will now be conducted online, either through live chatting or recorded videos.
Simultaneously, Females in Finance had planned to bring GIFT to the Goddard Riverside Community Center in April. But given the discouragement of public gatherings in New York City, the start date had to be postponed until late May. However, with little knowledge of how COVID-19 will continue to spread, the future of GIFT at Goddard is uncertain.
Nonetheless, Females in Finance will continue to work together to combat these challenges. The team is currently maintaining and expanding its online presence through its Instagram and Facebook as well as its website here. Despite these setbacks, the group will continue to spread its mission: to help the next generation become financially literate one girl at a time.