St. Olaf College | News

Competitive athletics, a successful career path

“Growing up in Minnesota, hockey’s been pretty much part of my life since day one,” says St. Paul native Andrew Willner ’20. “I learned to skate when I was four years old and have played competitively since I was five years old. After graduating from high school, I knew wanted to continue playing hockey.”

He also knew that he wanted to combine his passion for hockey with a rigorous education that would prepare him well for a career outside of athletics.

St. Olaf College was a perfect fit.

Now in his senior year, Willner is a forward on the men’s varsity hockey team who is majoring in economics with an emphasis in finance. He has a leadership role in the student-run Investment Club and landed a summer internship with TripleTree, an independent merchant bank in Minneapolis focused on mergers and acquisitions, financial restructuring, and principal investing services. Willner’s internship — where he worked alongside students from business schools — was so successful that he’s been invited to return this summer.

“I think that’s just a testament to St. Olaf preparing me, giving me a more well-rounded background than one just focused on financial modeling,” he says.

That’s the power of the liberal arts — which Willner has experienced firsthand. His sophomore year, he registered for a class with Associate Professor of History and Africa and the African Diaspora Program Director Abdulai Iddrisu.

“It was just one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had at St. Olaf,” Willner says, noting that it prompted him to think about issues more critically. It also prompted him to keep taking more courses from Iddrisu.

“His office is always open whenever, whether for students needing help with homework or just to say ‘Hey, I saw something I think is interesting,'” Willner says. “So it’s pretty frequent for me and other students to go into his office and just talk about anything on our minds. And he’s always willing to hear what we have to say and bring his perspective and see how he can push us to grow.”

Andrew Willner and Abdulai Iddrisu

Willner will graduate with a concentration in Africa and the African Diaspora in addition to his economics major and concentration in statistics. All of these experiences, he says, are what have made his time at St. Olaf so impactful.

“This school and this athletic program is willing to do whatever it takes to give their students the best experience while they’re here,” he says. “It’s just been a great community to be a part of and it really, truly is something special.”