Updated on January 12, 2017
Cole Daniel celebrated his graduation from Kennesaw State University in December 2016 by receiving not one degree, but three. However, he shrugs off his rare accomplishment.
“I think it’s a bigger deal for my parents than it is for me,” Daniel said with a smile.
Daniel received bachelor’s degrees in biology, economics and finance at the December commencement. A University Honors Program student with a 3.66 grade point average, he graduated with Kennesaw State’s highest academic honor – Honors Scholar, which requires completion of Honors Program curricular requirements and graduation with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
What’s more, Daniel is Kennesaw State’s first Honors Scholar to earn three simultaneous degrees, according to Honors Program director Liza Davis. He enrolled in as many as 19 credit hours per semester and took at least two summer courses each year at Kennesaw State, completing 214 credit hours.
Daniel aspires to be involved in investing in the pharmaceutical industry and the development of cancer-fighting drugs. He feels that his knowledge of finance and economics gives him an understanding of investing, while his biology background will enable him to target specific companies and drugs for investments.
“It takes billions of dollars just to bring one major drug to market,” Daniel said. “So my goal is to go to these big pharma companies and say, ‘I’m going to give you the capital necessary to research and develop this drug. In return, I want you to offer the drug at a lower price to consumers.’”
Medical advancements are of particular interest to Daniel, who was diagnosed in high school with Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear disorder that can result in vertigo, hearing loss, ringing in the ears and ear pressure. However, it was a different medical condition that inspired Daniel’s interest in a health care-related career. He was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain, and underwent life-saving surgery as an infant.
“I want to give back to the industry that saved my life,” Daniel said. “With all my medical issues, it is a small medical miracle that I am as able as I am today. It is a testament to what can be done and how far we have come in the medical field.”
Daniel began as a biology major, planning to become a dentist. His interest in economics and finance developed through courses he took from professors Ann Gillette and Randall Goodwin, and he gained practical experience by serving as the chief economist and chief global officer of the Student Managed Investment Fund in the Coles College of Business.
“Cole is extremely inquisitive and thinks deeply about how things connect,” Gillette said. “He is a high achiever with a great moral compass. I am proud to know him and look forward to watching his life path develop.”
Now, after transferring schools, completing more than 200 credit hours and overcoming health problems, Daniel’s six-year journey to earning three bachelor’s degrees is complete. As he looks forward to starting his career, does he consider all the time and effort in college worth it?
“It doesn’t come down to the size of your paycheck – it’s whether you can live the quality of life that you want to live,” he said. “As long as I have the quality of life I want, then that would be success.”