Wrestler with American Flag

From Wrestling to Investing, an AU Eagle Plans Ahead

Mervin Mancia, KSB/BS ’24, tries to think two moves ahead. Whether repping the AU Eagles on the wrestling mat or weighing investment risks for a business seminar, Mancia is strategizing. Plan, act, react. Repeat.

This proactive mindset serves Mancia well. A senior finance major in the Kogod School of Business (Kogod) and member of AU Wrestling, he is accustomed to anticipating. The fluctuations of the market, the throws of an opponent—planning for what comes next is part of Mancia’s academic and athletic daily life.

On an average day last year, for instance, Mancia would start his morning with wrestling practice, attend multiple classes, return to the gym for a weightlifting session, connect with professors and peers, study for exams, and complete his schoolwork. Factor in his competition schedule and all the other demands of student life, and it’s clear that being a student-athlete is an extraordinary feat of time management.

“There are a lot of lessons you learn in the wrestling room—discipline, dedication,” reflects Mancia. “This team has given me a lot, and I’ve given a lot to the team.”

The commitment to academic excellence within AU Athletics holds special resonance for him. Part of AU Honors and winner of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Academic (EIWA) Achievement and National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Academic All-American awards, Mancia takes pride in his performance in the classroom as well as on the mat.

“That right there,” says Mancia of his academic recognition, “is something I can take away for the rest of my life—that I was a collegiate wrestler but at the same time I was a good student-athlete.”

This dynamic academic-athletic path—rewarding in its demands—has been part of Mancia’s plan for himself at AU.

Growing up outside of DC, Mancia could always envision himself at AU. He knew he wanted the invaluable student experience that comes with wrestling for a Division I team. He also knew he wanted to pursue finance after his father’s construction company sparked an interest in property development. Kogod’s respected reputation and emphasis on experiential learning made Mancia certain that it would be the right choice for him.

“[Kogod] was a very strong pick for me,” says Mancia.

Now entering his final year, Mancia has made the most of what sets Kogod apart as a nationally-recognized business school for today’s world. He cites two of Kogod’s most innovative courses—the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) and the Nulsen Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)—as unmatched in their educational impact.

Providing real-world experience in securities analysis and portfolio management, SMIF and REIT allow students to oversee around $1 million worth of assets combined and pitch investments for advisory council approval. Students take on a variety of positions, including analysts, fund managers, and portfolio managers—mimicking the structure of an asset management team at top firms. Kogod has extended the success of these courses, recently launching a third student-advised fund focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments.

In Mancia’s view, SMIF and REIT represent “the best way to get real-life experience within Kogod.” The programs allowed him to learn by doing, while still within a supportive environment led by Director and Kogod professor Tim Timura.

“I was an analyst [for SMIF],” explains Mancia, “so I had to go, find stocks, create models, and then present it to the class. From there, people would l debate if we should purchase the stock or not.” He continues, “Words can’t express how unique it is and how seriously I take it.”

REIT added an even deeper layer for Mancia, who ultimately plans to pursue a career in property development. The course encouraged students to think critically about the commercial, social, and environmental aspects of real estate. In one discussion, for example, Mancia argued against purchasing stock in a company that developed correctional facilities.

Having worked in the construction industry through his family’s business—from balancing budgets to renovating houses—Mancia has seen real estate’s many considerations firsthand.

He’s also seen the industry’s volatility. After a change threatened his family’s circumstances last year, he realized there was “a fine line” between staying enrolled or having to leave AU.

The support of the Charles Coolidge Parlin Scholarship, however, made all the difference.

“The impact of the scholarship for this year was tremendous,” says Mancia. “It went a huge way. . . . It allowed me to stay at AU."

“It gives you a broader perspective,” he continues. “I’m here because the [school’s support] gave me the opportunity—I’ve got to make the most out of it.”

Mancia’s commitment to his success at AU and beyond is undisputed. This summer, he begins US Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and hopes to eventually serve as a Financial Management Officer, kickstarting his finance career and completing industry certifications.

With one more wrestling season ahead and his sights on the future, Mancia is an Eagle with a plan. And he’s taking his AU experience with him. In his view, Change Can’t Wait boils down to a clear message—"making a good impact in the world wherever you are.”

To learn more and support the Elevate Scholarship Initiative, visit the Elevate Scholarship Initiative web page.