Peer Advice from Calista

Hello! My name is Calista Duggan and I am a senior Economics and Communication double major. I grew up in New York City and throughout my time at Denison I have been shaped by my experiences in clubs and through my on campus involvement. When I arrived at Denison bright-eyed and bushy-tailed I had a much different idea of what my intended major and career path would be.

On a sweltering hot day in August of 2018 I arrived at my freshman dorm room with 4 different colored notebooks and folders ready for my first day. I was hoping to be an International Studies major and Spanish minor. I always did well in high school Spanish classes and I thought International Studies sounded interesting and a great way to broaden my worldview, as if moving to Ohio from New York wasn’t enough of a change. This decision quickly changed when I learned International Studies wasn’t a class on international business and when I decided that my high school Spanish skills weren’t as sharp as I’d previously thought. My dad encouraged me to sign up for Introduction to Macroeconomics as he said it is a great class that he believes everyone should take in college and it would give me a better sense of how our world works, knowing my dad was an English major and thought this I figured it must be pretty good advice. That’s how I was inclined to take Econ 101 – never imagining it’d be my major. 

My interest in economics arose well before my first economics class though. When I was a senior in high school and took part in a program called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistant). VITA is a program funded by the IRS that allows individuals to become Certified Tax Preparers after 16 hours of training to use a program to then assist qualified individuals, mostly low-income families and individuals, and/or people with limited English proficiency to get their taxes done for free. As a high school senior I didn’t understand the importance of this service, since I’d never had to do taxes before, but I quickly learned about the number of people across the country who are often scammed by places that promise their tax return that day and then hide the “fees” for the service by taking most of these people’s tax returns. This service opened my eyes to the unjust side of finance, while also showing me the kindness in people who are so grateful a service like VITA exists. This was the beginning of my interest in ethical finance that has followed me as I’ve grown since being in high school. 

Flashforward to this summer I took part in a remote internship with Morningstar, a financial research and investment firm that prides itself on uncompromising ethics and empowering investor success. I was on the Editorial Professional Audiences Team where my main project was a data-focused project that exponentially increased my Excel and Tableau skills. I was also given the opportunity to write an article on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Investing that was published to earlier this month. My journey to this internship opportunity came about from both a Knowlton Center career coach and a Denison Women in Business networking event. When meeting with Aneke Mason, a career coach here at Denison, early in my junior year I mentioned that I was interested in working in finance but I was unsure what part of it I wanted to pursue and I felt overwhelmed about where to start. She mentioned that Morningstar has a two-year rotational program aimed at college graduates who feel the exact same way and that their biggest pipeline to this program was their summer internship program. A few weeks later a club I am involved in on campus had a networking event with this company where Denison alumni came to talk about their experience working at Morningstar and to talk more about the program. After this I applied to the internship program and after many interviews and meetings to prepare with Knowlton Center coaches was accepted as a Business Intern for the Summer of 2021. Although Anneke will tell you it was all my hard work that landed me the position, she was the one who knew me well enough to know it’s something I would be interested in pursuing!


Now that’s enough about me! I’d like to leave some advice for underclassmen that I’ve put together after my three years here at Denison.

  1. Underclassmen, follow what is interesting to you! It doesn’t matter what clubs you are in as long as you have a passion for them and stay consistent. Join a bunch of clubs and go to the meetings and decide from there what you want to spend your time doing.
  2. Go to the Knowlton Center early and often, not that I’m biased or anything, but truly the coaches here are so helpful and the more you go the better they’ll know you and be able to help you find a career path and company that you love.
  3. Talk to your professors!! You chose a small school for a reason and here at Denison your professors want to know you. I wouldn’t have ended up double majoring if it weren’t for people like Dr. Russell who drew me in with just one class and her constant support these past three years. Almost every senior you talk to will have a professor who changed their Denison experience for the better, so don’t be shy!


By Calista Duggan
Calista Duggan Drop-In Peer Coach