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This is the fourth installment in a series highlighting the Class of 2017 recipients of the 1898 Scholarship Fund. Made possible by the generosity of alumni and friends, the fund to continues to expand our diverse community and further support truly exceptional candidates. Through continued generous support, we are able to help our students unlock their true potential and thereby propel future leaders to confidently navigate the uncertainties of a rapidly changing world.

A native New Yorker, Full-Time student James Riso came to Chicago Booth to get out of his comfort zone and explore new opportunities. Though he was rising steadily through the ranks at Cornerstone Research and thriving alongside MBA- and PhD-wielding colleagues, James wanted to broaden his options. "Booth has made me question how well I actually understand the world and myself," Riso said. "You start to question, in a good way, how you’re going about your life."

Prior to Cornerstone, James worked for the Technology Policy Institute, a think tank focused on the economics of innovation in the technology space. That exposure piqued his interest in tech and led to a summer internship with Uber in San Francisco. "I’ve never lived in California and I’ve been interested in tech for a long time," he said. "I knew it was something I wanted to experiment with. Part of the reason I came to Booth was to give myself that option."

In his first year, James has also made fast connections with fellow students outside of the United States, traveling with a group of more than 30 students to Cartagena, Colombia, for spring break. "The trip has become a tradition among the first years," Riso said. "For me it was an exciting trip because it was never really on my list of places to go. But a bunch of my friends were going and it was a great way to experience a new culture."

James continues to take advantage of the broader university community and resources to explore new ideas and perspectives. "Every time a speaker comes to campus, or one of the professors is talking about their research, I try to attend," said Riso. "I want to take in as much of that as possible while I’m here."