From a Sheep Farm to Designing AI Investment Strategies and a Video Game

What do raising sheep with two PhD parents, a sports injury, and functioning at a high level in the financial world have in common?

Finnian Clark connects the dots from his childhood in Williamsburg, Mo., to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he is involved in a competitive international business group, is a Thompson Fellow, and is even helping design a financial literacy video game for kids.

The middle of three children from Williamsburg, Mo., Finn grew up in a family culture that cultivated critical thinking and a spirit of inquiry to navigate the challenges of sustainably managing a sheep farm. His parents each earned a PhD, and that modeled perseverance.

Finn learned constant curiosity as an essential life skill. Originally he came to Benedictine as a recruit for the Raven baseball team. However, after a sports injury hindered Finn’s ability to pitch, he dug in deep to the childhood lessons of inquisitiveness and hard work.

“Being raised on a family sheep farm, I learned to tend to things — to do the work you don’t want to do because you have to,” said Finn. “This work ethic has been a really, really important lesson that helped me overcome the setback of an injury during my first baseball season and got me curious about where else I could invest my time to learn and connect on campus.”

Benedictine College is one of only three campuses in the nation to host a Student International Business Council (SIBC). Endowed as a club engaged in the study and execution of socially responsible business, their belief is ‘peace through commerce.’

Finn was a big contributor to the group’s presentation in San Diego. He said the experience was a true highlight to his Benedictine education. “Having the opportunity to present our team’s findings in San Diego was an amazing experience,” he said. “The panelists told us that this was the best presentation that Benedictine’s branch of SIBC has ever done.”

The team presented alongside teams from Notre Dame and the University of San Diego.

“The Benedictine SIBC team researched how artificial intelligence — AI — has impacted the retail industry and which retail businesses demonstrated the most investment potential,” said Dr. Madeline Rogers, an Assistant Professor, Law and International Business at Benedictine. “Finnian and his teammates traveled to San Diego where they presented their findings and made investment recommendations to business professionals, professors, and other students,” she said. “Finnian demonstrated excellent knowledge of finance. He was a major contributor to the financial analysis and forecasting aspects of the project.”

Finn said, “Our job then was to select a specific industry that could benefit from [AI], find a company that had solid fundamental ratings, and examine how they were investing into AI specifically. We ended up selecting the retail industry, and Costco was our business of choice.”

A junior Finance & Accounting Major, Finn is also a Fellow with the Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance and Economics. The program has helped him participate with real-life scenarios, such as the CAW Fund, which allows select students to actively manage a portion of Benedictine’s Endowment portfolio.

When asked about his investment strategy, Finn described his methodology. “For the CAW Fund, I researched and designed a couple of different scripts in Python, a high-level, general-purpose programming language, to analyze price fluctuation,” said Finn. “To model my data, I specifically used a Monte-Carlo Simulation, daily price data, percentage change, as well as drift rates.”

In addition to outstanding academic achievements such as earning a spot on the Dean’s List, and community building experiences, Finn said his faith life has grown, too. “Every single part of me has changed,” he said.

“It’s the faith piece at Benedictine that has really changed me,” Finn said. “I became so curious to find out more about why students were genuinely happy. I’m convinced the best way to introduce faith is through modeling good, virtuous living. It’s obvious that people who are living aligned with their faith are happy. This has deepened my faith walk and made me a happier person.”

What has most surprised Finn about the Benedictine College community experience has been how personally invested professors and leaders are in students. The Raven community has been an essential component of transformation for him.

“When selecting a college, I was repeatedly told that many students attending universities were seen as just a number,” he said. “A family member once told me, ‘The only thing that matters to these institutions is how much money you have in your pockets.’  Here at Benedictine College, I was surprised to learn that could not be further from the truth. I first learned this when I met President Stephen Minnis. He greeted me by name, he knew where I came from, and he was genuinely interested in learning more about me. Another great example is our professors. After getting toknow many professors here at Benedictine College, it is obvious they care deeply about the students. They will always make time for me, stay after class to answer my questions, and go out of their way to make sure that each student feels like a part of this community.”

With his Benedictine education in finance Finn has learned many important career skills, including the realization that financial literacy needs to be learned at a young age. He wants to make a difference by increasing financial literacy in America.

With the help of a classmate, Finn is developing an accessible and fun video game that will educate youth on financial literacy. After completing his undergraduate degree at Benedictine, Finn intends to earn his CFA and CPA, and help people live better.

For Finn, his life motto for success is constant curiosity.

“Making life-long connections with my professors and receiving real-world job opportunities has been tremendously helpful to my education at Benedictine,” said Finn. “From my participating in the CAW Fund, I received a full-time summer internship with the Missouri public schools pension fund. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more about various investment strategies as well as work with a team of seasoned professionals. None of this would have been possible without the Thompson Center or Benedictine College.”


Jenna Ross

Jenna Ross

Jenna Ross is a writer for the Marketing Department at Benedictine College in Kansas and is an adjunct faculty. A proud military spouse who has served and taught soldiers around the world, Ross has written for the U.S. Army Training Management Division and the New Mexico Lottery among other places. She and her husband, George, have three young adult children and live near Atchison, Kansas.