Approximately 40 talented first-generation students from FAU’s Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program gathered for a special fireside chat with an honored guest, Mr. Leon Cooperman, a Forbes 400 member, founder and chairman of Omega Advisors, and former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. In addition to the students, FAU President John Kelly, alumnus and Chairman of the FAU Board of Trustees Anthony Barbar, longtime friend of FAU Christine E. Lynn, and alumnus and former faculty member Dick Schmidt were also in attendance.
Like many FAU students, Cooperman was the first generation of his family born in America. A first-generation college student, himself, he has dedicated an enormous part of his philanthropy to supporting underserved students and is very open about sharing his first-gen experiences.
In addition to the students in attendance, Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow was also there to cover the event. Here is an excerpt from his article –
“Believe it or not, I have a great deal of commonality with all of you….I can understand some of the challenges you’re facing right now,” Cooperman said, starting a short PowerPoint presentation about his journey from a one-bedroom apartment to the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.
He told them about how he’d gotten up each morning at 5:15; how he’d chosen a job that he loved; how he’d gotten his PhD in being poor, hungry and driven; how he’d followed his instincts; how he’d attacked each day like a lion chasing a gazelle …
After Cooperman’s presentation, many students expressed how listening to his heartfelt story really resonated with them. Many students said it left them feeling empowered, inspired and hopeful about their futures.
Many thanks to Mr. Cooperman for visiting our campus and for sharing his story, wisdom and insight.
Eli Saslow’s Washington Post article was originally published on January 30, 2022.