After a challenging journey, graduation is just around the corner for Vithuran Karvannathasan, an international student from Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Karvannathasan, who studies finance, transferred to WKU just a few weeks before the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, after a friend who was attending WKU recommended the university.
Karvannathasan was enjoying his first few weeks on the Hill when everything changed – not just for him, but for students all over the globe.
"I had just started at WKU in January. In early March, I went to visit some friends in Chicago for spring break,” Karvannathasan said. “I remember checking my email the Sunday before I was to come back for classes, and the university had emailed to let international students know that that, unfortunately, we needed to book our flights home. I ended up finishing that semester online.”
Karvannathasan was disappointed, but he persevered. He went back home and took virtual courses at WKU for the rest of the spring 2020 semester and the fall 2020 semester. But as he began planning his class schedule for the spring 2021 semester, he realized he had already completed most of his requirements that had online options and needed to return to in-person classes to finish his degree.
With travel bans in place in many parts of the world, Karvannathasan knew it would not be an easy task to return to WKU, but he was determined not to let obstacles affect his pursuit of obtaining a degree.
In addition to navigating international travel during a pandemic, Karvannathasan was also dealing with a time crunch to finish his degree before his scholarships expired. He said without the assistance of the faculty and staff in the college of business, he may not have been able to complete his degree on time. Dr. Evelyn Thrasher, Associate Dean for the WKU Gordon Ford College of Business, was there to help at one of the most challenging points.
“There was one point where I was loaded down with courses, and I needed to find a few more credit hours to complete my degree. Dr. Thrasher helped me figure out what to do. This university will make you a priority and find a solution for you. I remember heading into my classes one day worried that I might not graduate, but before my second class of the day had ended, I had an email from Dr. Thrasher with a solution,” Karvannathasan said. “The faculty and staff will do everything they can to see students succeed. From the day I transferred to WKU, they helped me every step of the way, and I greatly appreciate their dedication.”
To help him earn some of those additional credit hours and get valuable hands-on experience in his field, Karvannathasan’s academic advisors, Dr. Pat Jordan who retired as coordinator of the Gordon Ford College of Business Undergraduate Student Services and Dr. Indudeep Chhachhi, Department Chair and Professor for the WKU Department of Finance, strongly encouraged him to complete an internship in finance.
“Last spring and summer, I worked remotely as a Junior Analyst for D64, which is a web 3.0 focused venture capital company headquartered in Washington, D.C. I did market research for them. I looked at types of projects that are building on web 3.0, researched different types of infrastructure and studied what the risks would be. I was looking at how everything integrates together. It was a lot of technical stuff, but I was familiar a lot of it because I’ve been in this technical space since around 2017.”
Despite his WKU experience being disrupted by the pandemic, Karvannathasan said he is glad he had a full calendar year to enjoy WKU’s campus. One of the highlights of in-person classes was Dr. Chhachhi’s Finance 449 course. The course included the TVA Investment Challenge Program, which offers hands-on portfolio management experience, something Karvannathasan said he will use in his career.
“We competed with other schools and got to manage a portfolio of 20-30 stocks. It’s an investment challenge where the goal is to ‘beat the market’ so to speak. The whole class basically revolves around what we learn in finance, such as different finance ratios. For example, we learn how to use financial analysis to find intrinsic value of a certain stock or how to analyze companies from a fundamental viewpoint. We get in groups and evaluate stocks. We also do re-evaluation of stocks and decide together whether keep a stock or sell it,” Karvannathasan said.
After graduation, Karvannathasan hopes to build a successful financial consulting business that will provide companies with reliable market research and risk analysis.
To learn more about earning a degree in Finance at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/finance/.
#WKUGrad series: As part of our #WKUGrad series, articles on graduating students are shared in the weeks leading up to Commencement. See all of their stories at https://www.wku.edu/news.