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Spotlighted Student: James Burton, 2011

James Burton, class of 2011, is a third generation Haverfordian. Grandfather, John C. Burton ’54, and father, Bruce C. Burton ’82, were hopeful that James would attend Haverford but James wasn’t convinced it was the right school for him. As soon as he arrived on Haverford’s campus he felt at home and envisioned himself as a member of the community. He was so enamored that he applied early decision.

 

He’s had great appreciation for the level of responsibility and leadership Haverford requires of its student body. It has given him the opportunity to make his own experience, and to mature and stretch his academic and personal character.

 

As he entered Haverford he was interested in courses in economics from the beginning but as he took more economic courses he recognized that the curriculum came naturally to him. He also became aware of the parallels between mathematics and economics, resulting in the decision to double major, Economics at Haverford and Mathematics at Bryn Mawr.

 

During the summer after his freshman year James interned at a microfinance bank Compartamos Banco, located in Mexico City, Mexico with the assistance of a grant from the CPGC. The company goal is to provide small loans to the poor giving them seed capital for new enterprises. In recognition of those individuals who pay back loans the bank’s Client Relations team, of which James was a member, provides complimentary workshops on topics such as marketing, the selling of goods, and financial management.

 

As a rising junior he spent the summer in New York City as an accounting intern for Hearst Magazines, which owns Oprah, Cosmo and a variety of media outlets. He very much enjoyed living in New York City and learning about finance and the media industry.

 

Junior year abroad was spent at Oxford University’s Lady Margaret Hall. He attended large lectures (300 plus students) each week, followed up with weekly one-on-one sessions with an Oxford tutor who would delve deeply into the curriculum. The Oxford experience has been a highlight in James’ college career.

 

This past summer James returned to New York City as a Whitehead Fellow to work as an intern in Citi Group’s global transaction services department. He was highly energized by his adept and hard working Citi Group co-workers. Through the selling of financial services to government agencies and corporations he learned what he is capable of in the workplace. By proving himself as a dedicated, hard worker the company has promised him a position as a global analyst once he graduates. However, immediately following graduation he and some friends are planning a three week road trip driving from New York to Los Angeles.

 

James was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA, north of Los Angeles, where his family owns and operates two small agribusinesses. James attended the Thacher School in Ojai California for his high school years prior to Haverford.

 

James plays Rugby for Haverford’s Club team, as a scrum-half. He’s also co-president of the Microfinance Consulting Club, a club he and Jeremy Golan ’09 founded in 2008. In affiliation with Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship and La Casa de Los Amigos the goal of the club is to engage others in the world of microfinance. You can learn more about the club on its website: http://www.haverford.edu/organizations/microfinance.

 

James is interested in the effects of major trends in the evolution of the microfinance industry. The industry is growing rapidly, partly because it has been able to attract private sector funding in addition to donations. Under the advisement of economics Professor Shannon Mudd, James’ thesis seeks to analyze the effects of high growth, of changes in funding and of other organizational and market factors on Microfinance Institutions' (MFI) mix of lending methodologies, i.e., whether they tend to do more group or individual lending. He has been doing significant groundwork compiling a database from individual MFI financial statements in order to conduct his analysis. In completing his thesis he hopes to be able to make some predictions about how the industry will change the way it provides financial services to the poor.

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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