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Former transfer student and BA/MBA alum works to solve clients’ problems and give them peace of mind

by Linda Lenhoff,

Jeremiah James BA’15, MBA’19

In discussing his success, Jeremiah James BA’18, MBA’19 immediately gives his mom a shoutout for introducing him to Willamette University. A local kid from Salem, James says his mom was very fond of Willamette due to her own ambition of attending law school there. That, coupled with childhood involvement at Willamette through the Country Kids relay and the Awesome 3000 events, made Willamette an easy choice.

James’ mom didn’t have to make a hard sell: James recognized the value in Willamette’s 3+2 BA/MBA program early on, and turned his bachelor’s in Sociology into a dual-degree with an MBA in just five years. “I wanted to get all my degrees up front and transition into the workforce,” he said. “I always enjoyed business and entrepreneurship, so combining these factors really influenced me to do the program.”

James transferred to Willamette from Chemeketa Community College. “I had chosen Willamette due to my football and community connections and had other friends who were advocates for the school,” said James. “Also I had the added bonus of using all of my athletic eligibility as I progressed through business school.” James said. He played football as an undergraduate and was on the track and field team for his freshman year.

Currently a Financial Advisor with The Diamond Peak Group at Morgan Stanley, James appreciates the support he received at Willamette. He cites professors Kelley Strawn, Jon C. Thompson, Bill Forster, Stuart Reed and Robert Walker as mentors who helped him formulate his life/work balance. “They taught me about understanding that the end goal — the end game is like an exit. You have a goal, but more important than chasing a goal is falling in love with the process and staying consistent.”

Part of James’ process, the part he likes best, is helping others. “We do full service financial planning from career to retirement and beyond; from long time horizons to shorter term horizons — like if you’re looking for a house. You need to have an overall risk and goal analysis to make sure you’re on track for anything you want to do. What I try to do is help people honestly.”

James’ attitude at work — and in life — comes back to his mother and the way he was raised: “I didn’t come from a lot of money myself, so I greatly enjoy the peace of mind my clients feel when we get to a resolution to a complex problem they needed me to solve.”

“I remember watching my mother long ago go through the same problems, and I worried about her since she had no one who could answer her questions. Wanting to be that person for my clients is important to me.”

That approach to compassionate problem-solving and dedication to helping others reflects Willamette's motto of “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.” Looking back on his time in the Willamette MBA program, James says, “I think everything in it is very valuable. I got my job through networking through the program, and with my (now) partners who also went to Willamette. The program gave me the chance to connect with others in the field.”

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