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Meeting John Bogle

March 15, 2021
Roberto Hasbun

In my freshman seminar, Ethics in Finance, there were several guest speakers that came to class to discuss their experiences in the finance world. One of those guests was John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard and 1951 graduate of Princeton. His innovative career and commitment to philanthropy truly inspired me and he remains one of my biggest role models. I was fortunate to meet him before he, unfortunately, passed away in 2019, leaving behind a legacy of service.

During his guest lecture, he recalled how his senior thesis at Princeton served as a launchpad for Vanguard. While Bogle didn't invent the index fund, which bought and held all of the stocks in the S&P 500 index, his index fund was the first available to the masses and it changed the ways Americans saved and planned for retirement. He talked about the negative side of finance, in which banks are mostly interested in garnering profits. He disrupted this industry by providing the average American the tools to grow their investments in a reliable fund. 

Bogle's career is also one of philanthropy and intellectual curiosity. He has written more than ten books, one of which I received with his signature. He has also given back a great deal to Princeton, having donated what is now Bogle Hall in Butler College and providing funding for undergraduates to pursue their own summer internships in service.

His life story really resonated with me as I have always aspired to create good and leave my mark in this world. He was a pioneer of his time and his success is inspiring as he attended Princeton, meaning that I can aspire to do impactful things just like he did. Having the opportunity to meet alumni like Bogle has been one of the highlights of my Princeton experience.