Ioulia Nikiforova '03, '04: The optomist

Annual gifts to Friends of the Conservatory.

Ioulia Nikiforova

Ioulia Nikiforova has a knack for flipping the odds —really flipping them.

She was born in Soviet Russia, in Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia. She is now a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley, the ultimate American capitalist in sunny Fort Lauderdale.

In 2013, Nikiforova entered the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management professional recruitment training program (which has a nationwide completion rate of just 2 percent). She beat out the other 98 percent and is now on Morgan Stanley’s management team, growing her portfolio of clients in an industry famous for its scarcity of female executives.

“You just have to keep swimming,” she said. “Survive. Become resourceful. Be confident. I learned these vital, lifelong skills at Lynn.”

Nikiforova completed most of her undergraduate studies at Siberian State Transport University in Russia and then transferred to the University of Florida for one semester, but it still wasn’t the right fit. Only a few courses away from her degree, Nikiforova made another bold move—to Lynn.

“I found out about Lynn at an American studies center,” she said. She sensed her creativity would be nurtured at Lynn. “And it was true. My experience was priceless.”

“I couldn’t have done it without Lynn. I like the saying ‘Don’t mix up schooling with education.’ Lynn was the school of my life.”

Ioulia Nikiforova

She gives much credit to Lynn faculty: David Fleisher for teaching her to think analytically, Lisa Miller for empowerment, Ralph Norcio for believing in her.

“He gave me the self-assurance and gumption for me to be me—regardless of my accent, nationality or gender.”

In 2003, Nikiforova began courses for a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a specialization in international business. Simultaneously, she was a graduate assistant in the Office of Admission. Eventually she accepted a full-time position as an admission counselor in the evening undergraduate and graduate division.

“I had found my home away from home,” she said.

“Ioulia was a pleasure to work with,” said Chenelle Seraphin, senior assistant director of graduate and iLynn admission. “I admired her attention to detail and service.”

Although she moved on to Morgan Stanley in 2011, Nikiforova never really left Lynn. She has continued to contribute financial gifts to Friends of the Conservatory (where she now serves on the board). And she remains one of Lynn’s most dedicated ambassadors, serving as mentor to Lynn students and alumni.

One of them is junior Claudia Milhano, an evening student working toward her degree in business administration. Milhano was moved by Nikiforova’s honesty.

“She is never afraid to admit that the work she does has long hours and can often be very exhausting,” Milhano said. “But that has also given me a more realistic mindset in pursuing my career. I can see why someone as hardworking and dedicated as she is has been so successful.”

Today, Nikiforova leads a team comprising her “self-run business” within Morgan Stanley. Her passion is building her book of business and making sure her clients feel at ease about their investments.

“I couldn’t have done it without Lynn,” she said. “I like the saying ‘Don’t mix up schooling with education.’ Lynn was the school of my life.”

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