Scientists have poured cold water on the idea that people are either right-brained or left-brained – it’s much more nuanced than that, they say – but even so, Anthony Daise ’02, ’05 (MBA), ’11 (MBA finance) would appear to be something of a dichotomy.
An artist who flexes his creative muscles with acrylics on canvas, Daise pays the bills with his practical, mathematical mind. Now a senior financial consultant/analyst and assistant vice president at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, he helps with finance governance, risk and controls, and has helped to make sure that Wells has a sufficient nest egg in case the economy goes south. “Regulators don’t want to bail out the banks again,” he says.
The job keeps him busy, and that’s where Daise’s leisure pursuits come in. He paints portraits and other works of art in order to give his analytical mind a rest, getting lost for hours in each piece. He’s also a former college athlete who is dedicated to working out (and playing the occasional round of golf).
Being able to lose himself in sports and art was almost a necessity during his teen years. Daise grew up in a crowded house in North Augusta, South Carolina, one of six kids born to an army-veteran, factory-worker father and a department-store-associate mother. Daise and his twin sister were smack dab in the middle of the pack – eight years younger than the eldest son, eight years older than the youngest daughter.
The house was crowded, comfortable and joyous. There was always heat in the winter, AC in the summer and enough food to fill the kids’ tummies, though not always a ton of extras.
But most important, there was fun and freedom.
“Three boys, three girls, growing up in a small town where you’re always outside,” he says. “You just get into so many different things. Growing up in a small, country-type environment, it felt a little more … I say ‘fun,’ but maybe ‘free’ is the right word.”
The Daise kids shot hoops and threw the football. They played tag and hide-and-go-seek without fear of running out into a busy road. There were fields and streams and woods to explore.
The young ones learned from the older ones. They felt protected, their athletic, wise older siblings always there to keep them out of trouble or set them straight. “My older sister and older brother seemed more like another set of parents,” Daise says.
During Daise’s high school years, the six tragically became four. When Daise was 15, his 18-year-old brother passed away suddenly. Less than two years later, he lost his other brother, then 24, to cancer.
The deaths hit the close-knit family hard.
“That was tough,” Daise says. “You’re used to people being around you. I remember sleeping in the same room as my brothers. Three boys piled in one room. You get to know a lot about each other.
“I often try to look at things outside of my perspective. Sure, I lost two brothers. But my parents. Wow! You just outlived two kids. It’s hard enough to lose one, but then you lose two within less than two years of each other. It impacted them in so many ways.”
Daise looked at his brothers’ deaths philosophically. “Those experiences taught me many things,” he says. “One in particular it taught me was that if we have any control over life, it’s limited, and the best we can do is to stay positive, keep going and try to adjust as best we can.”
Finding his path
Daise, ever the pragmatic child, became more determined after his family’s tragedies. A 6-foot-4 shooting guard, he worked hard at basketball, eventually earning a scholarship to Wingate. (The Bulldogs won 100 games in his four years, the best stretch in school history.)
Daise also earned academic scholarship money, and he enrolled at Wingate intending to become a high school math teacher. But for the math lover, things didn’t quite add up, especially when he thought back to growing up in such a full house.
“There were six kids,” he says. “That’s a lot of people that have to eat. You have to clothe them and things of that nature. Even though we had some good times and we had enough food, I still remember there were times when, man, I wanted this and I wanted that, and I just couldn’t get it. My parents wanted to get it for me, but they just couldn’t.”
Maybe that was in the back of his mind when Daise switched his major to business mathematics (with a minor in accounting). He kept the “math” part of the degree just in case he changed his mind down the road and decided that a life in the classroom was feasible after all, but at the time, the passion he had for teaching math didn’t quite outweigh his financial needs. He set his sights on a business career, and Charlotte, just down the road from Wingate and a little over two hours’ drive from his hometown, was the perfect place to get that career moving.
“It offers a lot for its size,” Daise says. “It’s not a big city, like Atlanta or New York, San Francisco or Chicago. But you get some of the same things. The performing arts here is good. There’s various professional sports teams here. There’s a variety of food options. I’ve enjoyed my time here in Charlotte.”
Before he’d even graduated from Wingate, Daise had a job lined up (he even turned down another potential employer, who had wanted him to get started before his final semester was finished).
“I graduated from Wingate on Saturday and I was working on Monday,” he says. “A couple of classmates said, ‘Don’t you want to take a break?’ I said, ‘I came to college to get a job. I can take a break on the weekends.’”
Daise has been putting in the hours ever since, working his way up the banking ladder. But he did eventually get back into education. For the past five years, he has been on the board of directors of Sugar Creek Charter School, Charlotte’s oldest operating charter school.
Sugar Creek’s mission – “to eradicate generational poverty in the lives of our students” by providing a rigorous education and practical life skills – appealed to Daise. He now helps keep the school on sound financial footing by serving as treasurer. “It’s been a great experience,” he says. “It's been growing so much that we had to expand the high school.”
Daise, who has no kids of his own, has focused on young people as he’s given back to his adopted city: Before joining the board at Sugar Creek, he volunteered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Charlotte. In 2019, Wingate honored him with its Champion of Diversity Award.
Diversity is something Daise certainly knows a lot about: diversity of personalities, diversity of interests, diversity of thought. Growing up in a packed house taught him about diplomacy pretty fast.
“It sounds simple,” he says, “but it taught me that we’re all different, and you have to figure out how to get along.”
And how to make adjustments, something Daise has done his entire life.