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Central Los Angeles : MONEY MAKER

August 31, 1995

Celia Garcia is only 18, but she's already learned the ins and outs of trading commodities. Her first lesson during a trip to the Chicago Board of Trade's trading pit? Grown men cry.

"There were a lot of people in a really small room and everybody was screaming at each other," said Garcia, whose high school economics project won her the trip. "A man was crying because he had lost a lot of money. They were trading . . . millions of dollars."

Garcia, a Mid-City resident, earned a $12,000 profit with a $1,000 investment during her project involving paper trading of unleaded gasoline at Marlborough School, a private school in Hancock Park. For her project, Garcia combed a newspaper daily in search of events that affect the price of unleaded gasoline. She then made trades based on her price predictions.

"What struck me about her project was her research was so extensive," said teacher Katherine Ward. "She probably had almost a page typed every day of facts that would cause the price to go up or down."

Garcia, the California winner in the Chicago Board of Trade's Commodity Challenge economic competition, said that during her visit to the trading pit, she saw few women traders, a lot of aggressive men, and talked to traders with hoarse voices.

"They move really, really fast," Garcia said.

Although Garcia, a Stanford-bound freshman, "loved" making money during her project, she plans to major in political science or international relations.

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