Thomas G. Connolly '89 studied economics at Union, where he enjoyed playing football and learning from and developing close relationships with faculty. A longtime partner in the Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division, he lives in Rye, N.Y.
How did you find Union and why did you choose to attend?
I was recruited to Union to play football in 1985 by Coach John Audio. Before he arrived at my public high school in New Jersey, I had never heard of Union. My older brother attended Rutgers (the state university of New Jersey), as it was an affordable option for us. I had also applied there, and had it not been for football, I would have likely attended. I visited several schools as a football recruit (Bowdoin, Bucknell). Ultimately, I just felt most comfortable at Union. Union put together a financial aid package (including a Pell Grant) that made it possible for me to attend. I will always be grateful for that.
Who were your mentors and how important was their guidance?
My mentors were initially the football coaches, and then some of the older players on the football team. I majored in economics and found some strong mentors amongst the professors there (Brad Lewis, Jim Kenney). One of the great features of a small college like Union is the ability to form close relationships with professors.
Students often feel pressure to do well in college. Did you feel any particular pressure?
My parents stressed the importance of education but never put pressure on me to get good grades. Any pressure I felt there was self-imposed.
Where did you feel most seen on campus? Most invisible?
Not sure how to answer this question. I never really felt invisible. I always found Union to be a welcoming and warm environment.
Have you provided any mentorship yourself, academically or otherwise?
I have tried over the years to help and mentor Union graduates seeking a career in finance.
What made you click? Where did you find your niche? What experience made you feel like you belonged at Union?
Football was a great entry point for me. I was able to make a large group of friends quickly and joined a fraternity. So definitely my friends in that community were critical. As I moved through the four-year process, my network expanded on campus socially and academically in terms of my relationship with my professors. Ultimately, I really enjoyed Union. It was a formative experience for me.
Were there any particular programs or people at Union who really made a difference to you, either academically or personally?
What I remember making the most difference for me:
1. My friends and coaches in the athletic community at Union.
2. My professors and fellow students in the economics department.
3. As I moved through my four years my social network on campus expanded. I had a lot of fun at Union and learned so much. I have very fond memories.