Delaware State University professor helps students face financial realities

DSU Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Nandita Das recently won a 2018 Investment News Diversity & Inclusion Lifetime “See It, Be It Role Model” award. (Submitted photo/Delaware State University)

DOVER — When it comes to clearing hurdles to develop financial acumen, Dr. Nandita Das imparts her self-attained wisdom on Delaware State University students.

Dr. Das, a 2018 Investment News Diversity & Inclusion “See It, Be It Role Model” awardee, migrated from her native India to the United States with her husband, arriving with little knowledge of how to create a sound financial future here.

According to Investment News when announcing the award:

“After living in three countries and changing careers, Nandita Das thought she had the credentials to be successful in America fairly quickly. She soon realized she didn’t because she could not understand the maze that is American finance. So she became a financial adviser and founded her firm to help other immigrant professionals secure their dreams for their families.”

In 2010 Dr. Das landed at DSU where she’s an associate professor of finance in the school’s College of Business. She’s thankful that the school allowed her to “speak her mind,” which “has probably been my problem at other places.”

Dr. Das can relate to being an outsider and tailors her approach to each individual student, who may be the first in his or her family to attend college, working elsewhere to pay for school or experiencing difficulties that others in the student body may not.

“There is a big need in the financial industry for minorities,” Dr. Das said. “Culturally it becomes more comfortable when establishing a relationship and there are nuances to it that perhaps someone from the same (background) may understand the best.”

There’s no soft approach to making it into what Dr. Das describes as the “carpet world” of finance.

“I’m very tough on my students but they know that I walk the walk with them,” Dr. Das said. “Every time I see them succeed is a joy.”

According to the 56-year-old, who also started her own Newark-based business, Das Financial Health. “I am their mentor, their pseudo-mom, I am not just their teacher.

“I call them my kids because I am very involved in their upbringing frankly. They’ve got all these pressures and often have minimal support and we’ve got to help them.

“We all come with baggage but their set of baggage is so much different.

“They come from so much more of a different perspective of life and it’s very easy to judge when sitting in an ivory tower. They need help, but they don’t need handouts.”

Thoughts on life

Generally speaking, Dr. Das said, “Saving for retirement must come first and it’s never too early. If you don’t think you have money to put away, look for any way you can to cut back on extra spending in even the smallest way and changing our standards without really or at least barely (feeling) it.”

The way Dr. Das sees it, “Money will not make you happy but a lack of it will make you unhappy.”

Having gainful employment is just part of having a well-rounded lifestyle, she said.

DSU Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Nandita Das advises starting to save for retirement as soon as possible, even with small investments. (Submitted photo/Delaware State University)

“If you don’t love what you do in your job it will trickle down to the quality time you spend away from it,” Dr. Das said.

“If it makes you mad, if it makes you irritable heading into every Monday, then it will show up in all parts of your life.”

Regarding ethics, “If you think it’s not right, there’s a 99 percent chance that you shouldn’t do it. I don’t care if you are black, brown, green or red, there are only two types of people — good and bad.”

Investment News will present Dr. Das with the honor during its Oct. 9 Excellence In Diversity and Inclusion Awards Ceremony in New York City. She was lauded for being a role model with a minimum 10 years’ experience in the finance industry.

”I was surprised because you don’t do things to win awards,” Dr. Das said. “So when someone recognizes you, you recognize it yourself.”

Upon receiving the good news, Dr. Das described the honor as “satisfying to the maximum degree. I kind of thought when filling out the nomination that it was no big deal because nothing would really result from it.”

Dr. Das directs the CFP Board’s Registered Financial Planning Program at DSU, and calls the school’s Financial Planning and Investment Club she found her “baby with a 26-month gestation period.”

The news release described Dr. Das as “keenly aware that she often provides the only moral support they have during their education, as many are first-generation college attendees. When she takes students to professional conferences, they are often intimidated because they don’t see anyone who look like them.

She tells them, “Well, when I came to this country, nobody looked like me, either.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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