Building for the Future
Most of Emmet Gaffney’s (BBA ’18) family is in real estate. Inspired by his mother, an architectural historian, and his grandfather and uncle who own and operate property, Gaffney came to the Wisconsin School of Business to learn more about the field his family loves.
“I’m most interested in communities and cities and how to create place,” says Gaffney, who is from Westchester County, New York. “Buildings shape the quality of our life—it’s where we eat, work, live, play, love. You have tremendous opportunity to impact people’s lives and the landscape of communities.”
Gaffney says he first gained awareness of the transcendence of buildings while touring the reconstruction of the World Trade Center. He recounts being moved by the resilience of the construction workers tasked with rebuilding an iconic American landmark.
“These men and women weren’t just reconstructing a building, they were rebuilding a nation’s pride,” he says. “Our built environment is central to our essence and identity.”
His experience at the World Trade Center construction site made him realize his dream of one day building something that impacts people positively and deeply.
“When I think about my career goals, I don’t want to develop cities because I think I can make a lot of money,” says Gaffney. “I want to build places that people want to live in. I want to be in a position where I can make positive change and impact things on a larger scale.”
—Emmet Gaffney (BBA ’18)
During Gaffney’s sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin‒Madison, his father became ill and could not work. With his family’s sudden change in financial situation, Gaffney could no longer afford to attend the university he loved. Then he received the Robert A. Jerred Excellence Award, which provides scholarship support to full-time WSB graduate or undergraduate students, based on academic excellence and community activities.
Receiving the scholarship not only meant he could complete his education at UW‒Madison, it also meant he could continue to learn and grow among the Business Badgers he had come to consider family.
“Receiving the scholarship made me really proud to go to the Wisconsin School of Business,” says Gaffney. “The fact that somebody else gave money so that I could pursue my education really has instilled a sense of pride in this school.”
Driven by those who helped him during his time at WSB, he is eager to apply the lessons they’ve taught him and put their help and support to good use.
“I’ve been lucky enough to receive tremendous support from a lot of great individuals who have taught me so much and who have really helped me out,” he says. “They know that they’re shaping the people who are going to be the leaders in the business world and, in essence, communities and society. They’re paying it forward in a larger sense and I’m glad to have been a beneficiary of it.”