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Jeremy Coste BA’17 banks on brilliance to become one of the youngest directors at Bank of America

by Sophie Cipolla,

Photo of Coste

At 24 years of age, Jeremy Coste BA’17 is one of the youngest ever directors at Bank of America where he works on the Algorithm Trading Team. His impressive trajectory began on day one at Willamette where this double major in Mathematics and Economics entered the university early through the Gifted Scholars program. Open to outstanding students in high school who meet first-year admissions requirements, the program allowed Coste, who was homeschooled, to get a head-start on college at a remarkable pace — which is how he ended up in Professor Emeritus of Economics Don Negri’s Economic Statistics class at the age of 16.

“Jeremy was an amazing student,” Negri said. Coste’s analytical skills made him the perfect Willamette representative for the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC), an opportunity Willamette offers top students to develop skills that translate to the professional world.

“It was basically an economics simulation program, where you have to make decisions for a company like you would in real life,” Coste explained. During the competition, students write an Annual Report, present to a simulated Board of Directors, and make business decisions that could affect the trajectory of their company. The judges are often Forbes 100 executives, so the ICBSC offers a comprehensive and challenging experience for aspiring economists or finance whizzes.

The ICBSC culminated in a capstone where Coste and the other members of the team competed in person in Los Angeles, “It was a great experience that gave us a fairly realistic picture of how the business world works,” said Coste. Coste and the other Willamette representatives won the competition.

Coste says that the ICBSC experience exemplifies the aspects of Willamette’s culture — specifically, the spirit of collaboration and close relationships between faculty and students — that Coste names as the highlights of his student experience. “Professors really care about you and are invested in you,” he shared. “You build lifelong friendships here, and the liberal arts coursework is really great from a learning perspective,” he said.

That broad liberal arts academic foundation served Coste well while he pursued a Masters at Columbia University in Financial Engineering, a rigorous program that was a hybrid of his interests in finance, programming, and math.

“There’s a lot of learning involved everyday,” he said, and his work involves designing algorithms to systematically trade, which requires a ton of cross-disciplinary knowledge. That educational foundation began at Willamette. Coste credits the “really good connections and friends” he made at Willamette who reinforced him on such a successful career path.

He encourages incoming students to take advantage of all that Willamette has to offer, inside and outside the classroom. As he puts it, “The great thing about college is that the connections you make can really last and set you up for success.”

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