The Legacy of a Win: The Fed Reserve Challenge Team

The Pace University Federal Reserve Challenge Team has won the prestigious 14th annual national College Federal Reserve Challenge, beating out competition from institutions such as Harvard and Princeton in their understanding of the US economy, monetary policymaking, and the role of the Federal Reserve System.

This was their third win in four years, with the team advancing to Washington, DC after winning the regional New York competition one month prior. 

All seven team members were Dyson Economics students, and included co-captains Klejdja Qosja ’18, Marina Testani ’18, and Salil Ahuja ’19, presenters Carly Aznavorian ’19 and Scarlett Bekus ’20, and alternates Alexandra Bruno ‘20 and Argenys Morban ’19.

Additionally, five out of the seven were female, making it the most female-dominated team since entering the national competition in 2012, debunking a report in August of this year by the Financial Times on low representation of women in this discipline.

Throughout their journey to the finals, the team was mentored by faculty advisers Associate Professor Greg Colman and Clinical Assistant Professor Mark Weinstock, and received support from Professor and Chair of Economics Joseph Morreale and Assistant Chair Anna Shostya.  Along the way, friendships grew, and sacrifices were made. The team’s passion and commitment was strong, linked by a common goal and burning desire to go to Washington.

Inspired by one of their own

Cristian Figueroa, who had competed as part of the Pace University team in the 2016 College Federal Reserve Challenge, passed away unexpectedly in June 2017. Highly respected and beloved by his professors and fellow students, he was an international student from Venezuela, an Economics major, and member of the Pforzheimer Honors College.

After the team won the regional competition and prior to the national, the Economics department held a special memorial to honor Figueroa, which his parents and younger brother attended.

It was clear that their road to Washington would be marked by his legacy. When he passed, all three co-captains decided to dedicate this season of competition to him because of the impact he had on each of them. Qosja says, “Cristian inspired us to be more confident, work harder, and be better.”

Ahuja, a very close friend of Cristian, says, “I knew every action with the Fed team had to be made to make him proud. We worked hard to win it for him, especially since we fell just short last year.”

Qosja remembers Cristian’s resolve for joining the team, even before he was selected, and how his determination for success and hard work ethic were contagious.

She also recalls, before he left for Venezuela last summer, that he said, "this year's team is going to make it all the way."

Assigned the last time slot in the competition, the team spent more than two hours warming up until they were called to the very boardroom where the Federal Open Market Committee meets and deliberates throughout the year. Working together, they presented, and then answered the judges’ questions on monetary policy. A deliberation was made, and Cristian’s prediction came true – the team was deemed the best in the nation.