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Nov. 16, 2018

Virginia Commonwealth University Wins Richmond Fed’s College Fed Challenge

Richmond, Va.

Virginia Commonwealth University students won the 2018 district title in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s College Fed Challenge competition. The winning team of seniors included Benjamin Alpern, Kyle Davis, Saajan Sappal, Mahd Mahmud, and Erfan Yakup. The team advances to the national competition to be held November 29 at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.

“There is no other competition like this one, nor are there organizations who put as much time into helping college students understand the economy and monetary policy as the Federal Reserve,” said economics professor Oleg Korenok, who coached VCU’s district winners in 2018 and 2017. The students began preparing for the competition in late August. “Preparation requires hard work and a commitment of at least eight hours a week outside the classroom,” Korenok added.

VCU, located in Richmond, competed in the district finals against regional winning teams from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore. Preliminary regional rounds of the competition were hosted by schools within the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and most of West Virginia.

College Fed Challenge is an academic competition designed to deepen students’ understanding of the nation’s central bank. Students delivered presentations on monetary policy and fielded questions from judges during a Q&A session. Teams were scored on content and analysis, responses to questions, teamwork, presentation and style.

View photo of Virginia Commonwealth University
Left to Right: Mahd Mahmud, Saajan Sappal, Benjamin Alpern, Erfan Yakup, Kyle Davis

View photo of Loyola University
Back Row - Left to Right: Tristan Byrnes, Conor MacNeill
Front Row - Left to Right: Kristen Conniff, Grace Cosgrove, Katelyn Zelko

View photo of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Back Row – Left to Right: Kent Andrews, John Ross Suggs, Tyler Lee Gwinn, Corey Alexander Turrall
Front Row – Left to Right: Zachary Michael Gonzalez, Ellen Wang, Zachary Alan Edwards


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District—including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia—to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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