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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Student portfolio is a jewel of an idea

January 01, 2014|By Joe Puglia

For 38 years I had a picture hanging in my office of three kids in a rowboat, armed with wooden swords, attacking a pirate ship. The pirates wait pensively with cannons and pistols. As the kids climb ropes attempting to board the ship, the lead attacker screams, “Nothing is impossible to a valiant heart.”

I believe that quote from Jeanne D'Albret and once again I found affirmation in the heart of Brendan Murran, a senior at La Cañada High School.

Brendan is championing a teen initiative called the Diamond Fund. Their mission is to promote financial literacy among high school students. “Monies earned through stock dividends will support student access to opportunity through education,” Brendan explained.

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The Diamond Fund is found on both economic and philosophical perspectives. The belief in economist Milton Friedman’s contention that everyone should have equal opportunity is foundational to the fund. Philosophically the student board of directors, Brendan Murran, Arman Zare, Eric Miller, Alec Lorenzo and Suren Kirikorian are altruistically motivated to provide the cultural capital to students who are unaware of existing educational opportunities.

The Diamond Fund is a fascinating endeavor. The students have meticulously planned their objectives considering portfolios of investment, risk management, criteria for selecting worthy students, and percentages of distribution. Their object to provide access to higher education is noteworthy.

However, the real story of the Brendan’s efforts began many years ago in Dublin, Ireland. Brendan’s father, Aidan, grew up unaware of educational opportunities. His economic and social status did not, in his early years, afford him the cultural capital, so he lacked the general cultural background, knowledge, disposition, and skills necessary to imagine the potential of education. Through the influence of a local successful businessman, Aidan was encouraged to envision the possibility of attending college. College became a life changing experience; subsequently Aidan passed on the love to his son, Brendan.

The Book of Genesis asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Martin Luther King reminds us, “We are inevitably our brother's keeper because we are our brother's brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

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