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Trailblazing alumna is on a mission to change the face of her field

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An elective class at Virginia Tech changed Rianka Dorsainvil’s life - literally.

After receiving a C in a vector geometric calculus course, the frustrated math major decided to try a personal finance class. She was hooked.

“I was literally blown away,” Dorsainvil said. “This is where we learned about credit scores, retirement planning, disability insurance, and student loans. I was like, ‘This is very tangible information that we can use today.’”

Now, more than 10 years later, Dorsainvil is considered one of the top financial planning experts in the country. A Maryland-based certified financial planner professional, she runs her own virtual financial planning company with a focus on working with millennials. She also is a sought-out speaker and interview subject for a variety of national business news publications and television outlets, including CNBC, Forbes, Marketwatch, and USA Today.

Dorsainvil, who recently was named Wealth Management’s “Ten to Watch” in 2018 and one of Investopedia’s top 100 financial advisors, is a national trailblazer in a field that lacks diversity in race and gender.

And with a strong drive and a newly launched podcast, the 31-year-old is on a mission to change the face of the profession that she loves.

After that first personal finance class at Virginia Tech, Dorsainvil couldn’t stop talking about her newfound interest. Her friends started coming to her for financial advice.

“She was always driven and very committed to excellence in her efforts to be successful,” said Ruth Lytton, a professor of financial planning at Virginia Tech and director of the university’s financial planning program, housed in the Pamplin College of Business. “Nothing was going to stop her when she was a student, and she has proven that through her career.”

Dorsainvil was becoming known as a campus leader, too. She was vice president and president of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and vice president of the Student Government Association.

At the time, Dorsainvil, who is African-American and Chilean, wasn’t the typical student interested in the financial planning profession. The field was and remains one that lacks diversity in race and gender. Less than 3.5 percent of approximately 80,000 certified financial planner professionals in the United States are black or Latino, according to the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning. Also, 33 percent of financial advisors were women in 2017, compared with 67 percent of men, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That did not stop Dorsainvil.


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