At 11 and 12 years old, respectively, Halie and Hannah Vilagi were saving up their chore money to buy two things they couldn’t stop thinking about.
Hannah saved up her money to buy a sparkly new bracelet.
Her younger sister, Halie, however, now a fourth-year in public affairs, had a much different product in mind: Apple stock.
In 2008, the sixth-grader bought stock in one of the world’s largest tech companies, just one year after the first iPhone came out.
Halie’s interests in investing did not stop at 11. At 15, just as she began high school, a new item had her attention.
“In high school Halie asked for a subscription to The Economist,” said Hannah Vilagi, a fifth-year in civil engineering. “She’s been getting a subscription to The Economist every week since she’s been in high school.”
Since then, Halie’s interests in economics led her to Ohio State’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, and from there, to the university’s Board of Trustees.
Halie Vilagi is the first undergraduate student Board of Trustees member with voting privileges in OSU history, and her term is set to come to an end as she prepares to graduate in the spring.
The application for the student trustee position is now available online for undergraduate students who live in Ohio to apply.
The position requires a two-year commitment, attendance at board executive sessions, and voting at the committee and board level. If chosen, the student would represent the entire class of undergraduates at OSU, work with the 19 other trustees in enrollment planning, development, investments and other responsibilities that directly affect all who make up the university population.
For Halie Vilagi, the process took about six months and included studying relevant materials, multiple interviews and figuring out how to buy a burner phone abroad in Berlin.
Halie was studying abroad in Germany when she was told that she needed a phone number to reach if Ohio Gov. John Kasich were to call her with any questions or news on the student-trustee position.
She found a phone that would do the job.
“It was not even a flip phone — it was the generation before the flip phone,” she said. “It was an oval.”
The phone cost 50 euros and had 60 minutes to service a few phone calls. She gave the number to two people: the governor’s office and her boyfriend, but instructed her boyfriend not to call.
“I said ‘I’ll give you this number. I only have 60 minutes on this phone, so don’t call me unless it’s Gov. Kasich with you calling,’” Halie said.
Halie spent the month abroad looking at the screen, charging it every night and awaiting the call that could change her life.
The phone didn’t ring. The call came when she was back the United States.
“The governor was incredibly busy, so we didn’t have much sense of when he would call,” Halie said. “I was at work one day and I was in a meeting, and I came back to my desk and had a voice mail from the deputy director of boards and commissions saying ‘Hey Halie can you give us a call back we have something to tell you.’”
When she called back, she was offered the position of student trustee.
“I hung up the phone and just sobbed. I had waited and waited and dreamed and imagined what it would be like to get this opportunity and to just get it was such a relief,” Halie said.
Trevor Brown, the dean of the College of Public Affairs, said Halie’s poise, thoughtfulness and understanding made her the ultimate choice for the position.
“She’s amazing,” Brown said. “She’s an incredible combination of smarts and intelligence, but she’s a warm, people-first person, so she’s very committed to students and the issues of students here on campus.”
Halie accepted her position on June 29, 2015. House Bill 64, which allowed for student trustees in Ohio to have voting rights, passed the next day.
After graduating this year, Halie plans to attend law school, and then perhaps pursue a career in politics or the nonprofit sector.
Her family also has an idea for her future. “The running joke in our family is Halie Vilagi 2020,” Hannah said.