Dollars for Scholars profile: Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton always knew he wanted to study business in college. His father is a businessman, his mother had her own interior design firm and his grandfather was an entrepreneur. He entered the University of Vermont as a business administration major and explored finance and marketing before declaring a concentration in business analytics and a minor in computer science.

Ryan Hamilton talks about how Dollars for Scholars set up him up for success.

“I really enjoy finding solutions to business problems through data and I can see how that can apply to every single business,” said the recent college graduate.

The first two years of Hamilton’s education were academically rigorous and his junior and senior years focused mostly on project-based work where he had to apply what he learned.

He took courses in business communications and public speaking to develop his writing and speaking skills, in preparation for the many group presentations required in his major.

Data Analytics was one of his favorite classes and it gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in a massive project as one member of a three-person student team that analyzed traffic data utilizing a city of Chicago data portal.

Business Process Improvement was another valuable class where Hamilton studied the Toyota production system, which calls for continuous improvement. “It was one of the harder courses I took, but the concepts were really fun,” he explains.

The culmination of his business education was the senior capstone project, where groups of five or six students work together to develop a business idea. Hamilton is an avid skier, as were his teammates. Their plan was to develop an app that would allow a skier to store their pass on their phone and rent ski equipment on the app.

Each student focused on a specific area and Hamilton analyzed data collected on potential customers. The group made a final presentation to classmates and faculty who questioned them and offered constructive feedback.

While Hamilton has multiple business ideas for ski-related apps, he will not develop their senior capstone product. He said the class was a great experience and it confirmed his entrepreneurial interests. “I would love to own my own company someday,” he explains. “It would be satisfying to create something that is successful and fills a need for consumers.”

Hamilton was briefly a member of the entrepreneurship club at school, but another passion occupied a considerable amount of his time.

After sailing for Pleon and Marblehead High School and becoming an instructor at the Boston Yacht Club, Hamilton had an amazing four years sailing FJs (which have two sails and require two sailors) for the UVM sailing team.

Sailing is a club sport at the university, but the required commitment matches that of a varsity team, with practices four days per week and competitions every weekend, in-season.

Being on the sailing team was a highlight of Hamilton’s college experience.

The team raced against schools such as the Coast Guard Academy, URI, Connecticut College and the Naval Academy, which meant considerable travel. Hamilton learned the importance of good time management to balance his athletic pursuits with academics.

Entering his junior year, he was elected as the team’s treasurer, which made him responsible for managing the finances and budget, coordinating transportation and travel, and working with the student government association. He also participated in fundraising activities and in the interview process to hire a new coach for the team.

Hamilton said competing for the sailing team and being a member of its executive board was the highlight of his college experience. “I got leadership experience and found it very rewarding.”

A spring semester internship developed into a full-time job for Hamilton, who is living in Vermont and gaining experience in sales working for Fastenal, the country’s largest distributor of fasteners. He hopes the next step of his career will enable him to work in analytics, data or in an operational or logistics role.
If not for his Marblehead Dollars for Scholars scholarship and a generous financial aid package from UVM, Hamilton may not have been able to attend the university that gave him a first-rate educational experience.

The local nonprofit provided him with a scholarship for each of his four years and Hamilton said it made an important difference in his family’s ability to pay for his education. When he realized he could apply for an award each year, it motivated him to work hard and perform well at school.

“I want people to know how awesome Dollars for Scholars is,” explains Hamilton who remembers how surprised he was to see so many of his MHS peers receiving scholarships at the organization’s high school awards ceremony back in 2019. “Anything to support people getting an education is a great thing.”

Marblehead Dollars for Scholars President Jac Bentley knows the high cost of a college education continues to increase, placing a heavy financial burden on families. Through the generosity of valued donors, Bentley believes the organization is making a difference in the lives of local students.

“I feel a sense of fulfillment and purpose when I hear students credit our organization,” says Bentley. He hopes all scholarship recipients who recently graduated from college carry with them a sense of excitement, ambition, and determination as they embark on their careers. As they progress in life, he hopes they will give back to their communities. “My wish for them is that they reach and exceed their dreams.”

Nancy Marrs is a member of the Marblehead Dollars for Scholars Board of Directors.

Nancy Marrs
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