FIRST-GEN FOCUS: GET TO KNOW OUR STUDENTS

First-generation student Kashif “Kash” Molwani has put in long hours studying and networking as a Finance major in the Robinson College of Business. His proactive, “do-whatever-it-takes” approach has already paid off terrific dividends. Through cold calling, networking in person, and lots of persistence, he has lined up a summer internship with UBS Investment Bank in New York City. UBS specializes in commercial banking at the corporate level—a great fit for Kash, who aspires to learn how businesses operate and explore his entrepreneurial spirit in the future.

He travelled to New York seven times last semester to meet contacts and make inroads for himself.

“The thing about New York—they don’t want to hire kids from state schools,” he reflects. “I want to prove that mentality wrong. I want to get in there with all the Ivy League kids.”

A Family’s Dedication

Kash is making this a reality by following a disciplined routine, one he learned at a young age from watching his family work hard day-in and day-out to make ends meet. His family moved to Augusta, Ga. in 2004 from Karachi, Pakistan.

“My dad is very disciplined and he made sure we did things well,” he explains. “My whole family works. Everyone tries to survive. My family is very structured. They go out during the day to work and then come home at night… Ever since we were little, we would go to school in the morning and then do tutoring afterwards. Academia is really embedded within us… Everyone in my family after our parents has attended college.”

The regimentation his parents instilled in him has helped him manage two jobs and a full load of classes each semester.

“It wasn’t put in me that I can take a break… Whatever comes my way, I just have to get through it… I started working at the age of 13, washing cars, whatever I could do to help my family,” he explains.

“[This sense of discipline] works well because everyone in finance has that organized mindset,” he adds.

Setting a High Bar

Kash graduated as Valedictorian from A. R. Johnson Magnate High School. His older sister became a nurse and she persuaded him to look into nursing, too. Through her influence and after researching Georgia State’s nationally ranked nursing program, Kash enrolled at the university. This decision also made sense because his family had been planning to move to the Atlanta area anyway and his older brother attends school at Georgia Tech. Once he arrived at Georgia State, however, Kash discovered he didn’t feel passionately about the nursing curriculum and changed his major to Finance.

In between homework and working, Kash also made time to develop a start-up company, cKash, Inc. His company developed a mobile application that allows shoppers to get paid for uploading pictures of products they like while shopping.

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In addition to his entrepreneurial drive, he’s also heavily involved with Panthers on Wall Street, a program designed to immerse promising students from the Robinson College of Business in New York’s financial district. Kash serves as the Recruiting Chair, where he searches for highly-qualified prospective members.

“The pressure is on because we have to recruit bigger and better students than ourselves. We have to set the bar higher every year,” he says.

He’s also been developing a handbook to help students know what to expect when they interview for positions in New York.

“I’ve researched everything and I have a lot to share from my experiences, so I thought I should develop this handbook to help others,” he explains.

Kash also serves as the President of the Georgia State chapter of ASCEND, an accounting organization for Pan-Asian student leaders. He’s also involved with The Freshmen Institute, a mentoring program for freshman men to help them stay enrolled.

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Kash advises other first-generation students to put aside any fears they might have—especially financial ones—and go to college.

“Going to college is the best decision anyone can make. Money shouldn’t be the reason to hold you back,” he says.

Reaching for Every Opportunity

Kash will graduate in May ’17 without any student debt. In addition to having the Zell Miller Scholarship, he applies to other scholarships regularly. He stresses that the small ones count, too.

“I applied for a small study abroad scholarship and I only had to write three sentences on why I wanted to go… I got it and it was for $500. That’s $500 more than I had before. It all counts,” he explains.

The several small scholarships he applied to completely covered his study abroad experience in Morocco last year.

Kash actually wants to complete his last semester abroad in Germany. He wants to backpack through Europe before he enters the workforce.

“I’ll need that before I start working 100-hour workweeks,” he jokes.

Kash also found other ways to make ends meet while in college. After spending a few semesters commuting to campus and then paying for student housing on campus, he decided working as a Resident Assistant in Greek Housing would help him manage his costs tremendously.

“I thought I would always be broke,” he reveals. “But being an RA turned out to be a good fit and it’s helped me save a lot of money.”

Always Learning

Lastly, Kash advises others to always remain open to learning.

“I think I have a lot more to learn,” he shares. “I never think that I can’t learn something from someone else… I think that’s going to help me go forward in my career.”

He believes having an open mind enables growth and he encourages others to view their responsibilities as opportunities to grow.

“Look at everything you do day-to-day with a positive mindset rather than as a hassle,” he says. “You have to have an open mindset, embrace uncertainty, and stay optimistic to achieve goals.”