Football to Finance

By Mary Ellen Lowney

At 30, Morgan Stanley financier Earl T. Pryce knows where he's going.

He also knows where he's been, and can easily connect the dots from there to here, and beyond.

Pryce earned his bachelor degree in business management at AIC in 2000, and has converted his formal learning to impressive skills in a high-paced and highly competitive arena: The world of finance.

In the eight years since he left AIC, the former football standout has risen quickly at Morgan Stanley, starting out as a management trainee and working his way up to vice president of portfolio. Pryce says the climb came thanks to a constant focus, and a determination to succeed.

"It's been hard work," Pryce said, reflecting on his professional years.

"But it's good. I'm very happy in what I do. The management training program was outstanding. It does wonders for me know," he added.

Pryce has been blessed with an ability to focus for as long as he can remember, as a young immigrant from Guyana growing up in Brooklyn, playing high school football, and working through an injury that put him out for a season. He followed that pattern at AIC, where he excelled on the field as a free safety, earned top grades as a student, helped his fellow students as a residence director, and made a few life-long friends along the way.

"I liked AIC. It's a nice, small school, and I think that's exactly what I needed," he said. "The smallness made it flexible. You were able to get face time with your professors; they'd sit down with you and go over your class schedule, or talk about whatever you needed to talk about."

Pryce remembers the day he and his father, Aubrey Pryce, drove up from New York to Springfield to check out AIC. He was a high school senior, and was looking a football scholarship straight in the eye.

"It was like a dream for me, being able to play college football," he said.

Springfield looked pretty good from his vantage point, and he liked the coach - Art Wilkins - right off the bat. On the drive home, his father had more than football on his mind. He used the three hours to convince his only child to major in business management.

"I wanted political science. My Dad said that was fine, but I'd need something broader to really make a future for myself. He's an entrepreneur, and I realized listening to him that he was right. I went and changed my major that first semester," he said.

During the summer after his freshman year, Pryce landed an internship at Juno Online Services, an Internet services company based in New York City. There, he discovered a passion for accounting, a skill that helps him to this day, and in many ways.

But something else happened that summer that helped to shape his future.

He got a telephone call from Professor Michael Peterson, who responded to a voicemail Pryce had placed to the school of business concerning the addition of accounting as a major. It began a relationship of trust, collegiality, and advising, that saw Price right through college and beyond.

It was Peterson who helped Pryce put together an academic schedule that enabled him to major in business management and carry a double minor in accounting and political science, his original interest. It was also Peterson who guided him through his studies.

"We built a trust with each other. He was somebody who was actually listening to me; I always knew he really cared. He was always there to help me find solutions if I was stuck on something," Pryce said.

Peterson said Pryce made as much of a mark on him, especially with his request for help with his double minor, something few students do. Peterson eventually helped Pryce obtain the Morgan Stanley internship that launched him on his current career trajectory.

"As an advisor and a professor, it is always rewarding and satisfying to have a student who works hard, wants to learn, and grows dramatically as a student," said Peterson, who is a professor in the business department.

"Earl was all of that at AIC. I am not even a little surprised that he has succeeded to date at Morgan Stanley. I am far more curious to see what else he achieves, not just on Wall Street," Peterson said.

And then there was football.

Pryce had sat out his junior year in high school, thanks to a torn ligament in his knee. He was ready to get back into the game at AIC, in spite of a doctor's prediction that he'd never play. In fact Pryce did well, working out with the team under Coach Wilkins, and finding more reasons to cherish the college experience.

Pryce said football made him a better student, and a more focused person.

"I think football gave me that discipline that I needed. I'd wake up, exercise, go to class and study. You just knew you had to do all those things, and you did them," he said.

Keshawn E. Dodds remembers Pryce as the football teammate who helped him through a serious crisis.

Dodds was a year behind Pryce, and also played in the secondary. They worked closely together; Dodds looked up to him as a leader and a friend.

"It was easy to see that Earl was someone who walked his own path, and that really stood out. At the age of 19, it seemed like he had his career goals planned out," Dodds said.

Dodds broke his leg in a game and was out for a season. Without football, he seemed to be losing his drive to do well in school, and was slipping fast. It was Pryce who caught up with him, offering just the right advice.

"He told me that yes, I came to AIC to play football," Dodds recalled. "But that wasn't the only reason I was here. I also came to AIC to take advantage of my time in the classroom. I was given an opportunity that not every inner-city kid can get, and I need not waste it."

That was a turning point for Dodds, who loaded up on classes and found in himself the kind of focus that Pryce had.

The two remain close friends, and Dodds has extracted a promise from Price to be at AIC Homecoming this fall.

Pryce's home office is on Fifth Avenue in downtown Manhattan. Since graduating at AIC, he has earned an MBA with a focus in finance at Long Island University. He now lives in Queens, not far from his parents Aubrey, who is a tailor running his own business, and Ithel, who is a nurse. He is engaged to be married in April to Tamara Calendar.

Reflecting on his formal learning at AIC, Pryce said he believes he got all the advantages of a top-notch education.

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