Meet Katya Ivahno, Class of 2025! Katya is set to graduate in May 2025 with a major in Business Administration (Finance emphasis). Katya joined the Chapman community on-campus right after California opened back up post-COVID shutdowns, and she says that it was an amazing experience. Early on, Katya had no set career trajectory, only an eagerness to learn more about what she could make of her future career.

Miss Ivahno grew up in Newport Beach, California and has been a part of the Orange County community from a young age. Katya’s mother, a ballroom dancer and owner of  OC Dancing Ballroom Dance Studio in Irvine has been an active part of the community and was an integral participant of the Chapman Fundraiser “Dancing for Tomorrow’s Stars.” She even had the honor of training and dancing with President Emeritus Dr. Jim Doti, too! Katya says, “Since then, it was my mom’s dream for me to attend Chapman University, however of course, I didn’t want to agree with my mom (ha-ha). I was ready to move to New York. After more consideration, I realized that Chapman’s humble community and amazing George L. Argyros Business School was the place for me! I haven’t looked back since.”

Finding Finance

Katya came to Chapman as a Business Administration major, but not long after stepping foot on campus and taking some of her initial classes did she stumble upon the Chapman University Investment Group (CUIG). Since then, Katya was hooked! She fell into an exciting career trajectory within the finance space, especially within Investments. She says “The connections I forged at Chapman have not only stimulated me intellectually but also guided my path and surrounded me with inspiring mentors and vibrant friendships that extend beyond college. This transformative experience would have been unattainable elsewhere.”

Realizing her passion for finance early, Katya was able to land two amazing internship opportunities during her first two years at Chapman. “My freshman year summer,” she says, “I interned at Janes Capital Partners, an Investment Bank focusing on middle-market Aerospace and Defense M&A in Irvine, CA.” Further, Katya joined Black Star Fund her freshman year – a Venture Capital firm focused on investing and supporting African American innovators and startups across a myriad of sectors in the US and Africa. “I have now been with Black Star Fund, as a Portfolio Management Intern, for over a year (working remotely), and it has been a truly phenomenal working experience that I am excited to continue through the school year,” she says.

Campus Involvement

Katya’s student involvement is deeply intertwined with the Janes Financial Center and its Residency Program. She says that has profoundly shaped her as a dedicated student, aspiring professional, and leader. “At present,” she says, “I proudly assume the role of Portfolio Manager, steering a dynamic group of approximately 30 undergrad students entrusted with the management of the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF). With a formidable sum of around $3.5 million from the University’s Endowment Fund under our management, I find myself excited by the extraordinary opportunity that has propelled me to become the youngest Portfolio Manager in such a brief period.”

From initially cultivating a fascination with finance, to now effectively overseeing a multi-million dollar investment fund on behalf of the university, Katya’s journey has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. As she approaches her junior year this upcoming Fall Semester of 2023, she is eager to continue her role as Portfolio Manager, all while nurturing a fervent ambition to champion female leadership within the Argyros School and gender parity across the university’s finance program.

Additionally, Katya is a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity on campus, where she serves as the Fundraising Chair for the Fall ’23 semester. “I am super excited to continue gaining great experience and building lifelong connections,” says Ivahno.

Learnings & Experiences

While at Chapman, Katya has had numerous learning experiences and opportunities for personal and professional growth. Outside of excel and other hard skills, “I think surprisingly, some of the most important skills I’ve developed over my first few years at Chapman have been soft skills. The ability to work under pressure, create meaningful connections, and the ability to create superb work in a short time frame. Hard skills can always be learned, but soft skills are harder to perfect,” says Katya.

Her favorite memory (so far) at Chapman was working on the CFA Orange County University Research Challenge team, a global competition between universities that compete by creating investment research and presenting that analysis and advice to a panel of judges. Katya was proud to work with Kate Miller ’24, Brian Lymberopoulos ’23, and Omar Bakhsh, MBA ’23 to win the regional Orange County Research Challenge in February 2023! Additionally, Miss Ivahno was one of 20 students chosen to go on the Argyros School’s Walk Down Wall Street travel course to New York City in May 2023! “It was an unforgettable experience of a lifetime,” she says.

While Katya may not know where she stands when it comes to long-term goals, she says, “I do know that I want to continue building my career in finance, working on developing my analytical and relationship skills, and focus on helping women succeed in the field.” 


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