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Stephen Kawasaki
That was when a light bulb went off in my head.

Profile: Stephen Kawasaki

Alumni
Financial Planner, Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC

As a financial planner for BDF, Stephen Kawasaki, a Financial Planning graduate, enjoys working with his talented co-workers in a diverse environment.

“In my mind, the diversity separates us from the rest of our industry, and I think it allows us to develop very unique relationships with our clients,” Stephen says. “We work with corporate executives, business owners, women in transition and everything in between. It makes for a very interesting day at work.”

Stephen has pushed himself to excel in academics and keep up with the learning curve in his profession. He says his professors at the University of Illinois encouraged him both to pursue his passions in his career choice and to make learning a lifelong habit.

“One class in particular—ACE 398— gave me great exposure to the various opportunities available to Financial Planning majors. That was when a light bulb went off in my head,” Stephen says. “From that class forward I knew how to match my passions with a rewarding and sustainable career.”

As part of his academic work, Stephen did several internships and studied abroad in the Dominican Republic to learn about international economics and policy decision making.

In addition to his department’s faculty, Stephen believes student organizations were a key to his success at Illinois. He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon social fraternity and founded the Financial Planning Club. He took great pride in getting involved on campus.

“From a personal standpoint, the faculty and impactful student organizations allowed me growth opportunities that I don’t believe I would have had at any other school,” Stephen says. “Professionally, U of I is the most reputable 4-year undergraduate program in the Midwest that would have allowed me to sit for the CFP [Certified Financial Planner] Exam. This gave me an edge during the job search process and allowed me to get a head start on my career.”