Photo of Ashuti Reynolds

Great Valley finance student to apply skills in Africa

Through her online coursework with Penn State Great Valley’s Master of Finance program, Ashuti Reynolds has learned to be creative and work collaboratively — skills she will use on an upcoming service trip to the Gambia.

By: Elizabeth Palmer

Ashuti Reynolds is busy, and needed a flexible program to further her career. She’s the general manager and licensed optician at LensCrafters in Norcross, Georgia. Her duties include serving as a trainer—she’s responsible for educating each general manager in the region on sales, interpersonal skills, and new technology. She also helps manage the business side of R&R Autocare, her family’s auto body shop.

Now, Reynolds is almost halfway through the online Master of Finance program at Penn State Great Valley.

While she had many options when choosing a master’s degree program, Reynolds ultimately decided on Penn State for its reputation, ranking, and respected and recognizable name. Her undergraduate background in economics and business is well-suited to the financial theory and business applications covered in the curriculum. But Reynolds was pleasantly surprised that the program attracted students with varied backgrounds—engineers, IT professionals, and even a physician are among her classmates.

“Not only has Penn State Great Valley’s Master of Finance program taught me practical business knowledge, but it’s also shown me how to work collaboratively, take direction, and delegate my work,” said Reynolds. “I’ve had to be conscious of my classmates’ schedules—especially because some of us are in different time zones and work different hours.”

As part of her Current Issues in Corporate Finance course, Reynolds recently traveled from Georgia to Penn State Great Valley’s campus in Malvern for a weeklong residency to study and collaborate with classmates in person. The group of 10 students came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Texas, and even as far away as Turkey.

“Their perspectives have shown me how to be creative and how financial concepts can be applied to different industries and real-life scenarios,” Reynolds added.

The flexibility of the program will continue to pay off, as Reynolds will embark on a two-week trip in November to The Gambia with LensCrafters’ parent organization Luxottica. Through a service initiative called OneSight, Reynolds elected to travel and work with another diverse group—Luxottica employees of different levels, organizations, and locations throughout the United States. Together, they will build an eye care facility in West Africa and fit individuals for glasses.

“I’m looking forward to being humbled,” she commented. “There are so many things we take for granted, and I am eager to see the expressions on peoples’ faces when we can do something simple, like provide them with glasses.”

While this trip will put the next course in her 10-class program on hold, the skills she already has gained from her Penn State experience have prepared her well for her journey. Reynolds is excited to return to her studies in January, and bring a new perspective to share with her fellow students.