Ellery Hill knew when she was just 13 years old that she had to live in New York City someday. She took a trip to the city in middle school and was so enamored with the hustle and bustle of the Finance District that she couldn’t see herself settling for anything else.
Just a few years later, that girl from Hanover, Michigan, would find a college that would get her exactly where she wanted to go – The University of Alabama.
“I was originally very drawn into the schools that were heavily academic. My dream would have been to go to an Ivy League (school). That wasn't a reality for me because I was coming from a school of 60 people,” Ellery explained.
“I think what really makes Alabama different and what makes my experience different is that it is about school, it is about the education. But the networks outside of the actual classroom here are so deep and ingrained that it creates a whole person that you can market to the world rather than just somebody who has a degree.”
Ellery has had no shortage of opportunities to get to that dream life in NYC, where the junior finance and economics major worked at Goldman Sachs over the summer.
“I originally came here on campus and hit the ground running. Soon after that, I tried to join the Culverhouse Investment Management Group. You don't always succeed on the first try. That was the case for me,” she said.
That rejection lit a fire in Ellery and motivated her to try again. She successfully joined the group following her second attempt and hasn’t looked back.
The CIMG manages an endowed portfolio of about $1 million that allows its students to get real-world experience.
“The Culverhouse Investment Management Group is a group of about 60 students on campus led by a faculty advisor and professor John Heins. He teaches us just through practice. So, it's not through lectures that we're learning,” Ellery explained. “We're instead grouped into about seven different committees. Each committee pitches two companies per semester. There are full-fledged pitches, beautiful PowerPoints, financial models.”
Ellery believes her involvement in CIMG has set her up for success.
“When you come in as a freshman, it seems so overwhelming and you're like, I'm never going to understand every part of this. And then as a sophomore, I became committee head and, suddenly, I didn't just have to understand it, I had to do it,” she said.
“And that's kind of the magic and the beauty of the group is that they give you the opportunity, they give you all the tools, and you just get to sit there in that room surrounded by all these incredible young professionals who know what they're doing and sometimes don't. And we all work together and figure it out. And it's been incredible.”
Ellery now finds herself one step closer to her dream following her experience with Goldman Sachs.
“So many alumni were overwhelmingly helpful in making sure I was prepared to do this job,” she said. “I have many CIMG people here with me, just showing how deep and wide UA’s network is.”
Ellery began her senior year continuing the work she’s put into reaching her goal. That work includes presiding over the Capstone Commission for Socially Responsible Investing, a group she co-founded; CIMG; being selected for the 2022 class of the Anderson Society; and expanding on a financial literacy class she helped create and finding a way to make it accessible to all UA students.
Ellery admits she’s not completely sure what she’ll do after graduation, but every experience has brought her closer to figuring that out.
“I would say my dream job is ultimately to help women build wealth,” she explained. “But I’ve gotten a gut feeling from every internship that maybe this aspect of finance isn’t exactly what I might want to do, but I know I’m getting close.”
Ellery is a bit sad that her time on campus is coming to an end, but she has relished every second she’s been at The University of Alabama.
“I came here pretty scared. I didn't want to say that, but I definitely came here scared. I graduated with 60 students and then I come to The University of Alabama. It's 12 hours away from home,” she said. “But the opportunities that I was given here right off the bat and the belief that was placed in me by the people here really gave me the confidence to do whatever I wanted.”
During her time in Tuscaloosa, Ellery has gained an appreciation and love of what she believes is the heart and culture of UA.
“It’s full circle. It’s a whole experience I would say,” she explained. “There’s a reason we’re all here and Alabama has made it very clear that they are intentional about it.