When my family moved from Puerto Rico to
Jacksonville, we didn’t have many of the things most American families take for
granted. My mother struggled to make ends meet in a factory job. We didn’t have
a car. I didn’t even know English.
Much has changed in my life since coming
here at age nine. I credit the University of North Florida with making the
American dream accessible to my family and me.
After learning English, I graduated from the
Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville and attended Florida
State College at Jacksonville. I have always been good in math, having won a
competition in high school. When I enrolled in UNF, I knew I wanted to pursue a
course of study that combined my love of math with my desire to learn more
Coming from Jacksonville’s Hispanic
community, I was aware of many other families who were struggling with their
finances. They didn’t have a basic understanding of how to invest their limited
funds or plan for such things as buying a home or retiring. When I entered
UNF’s Accounting and Financial Services program in the Coggin College of Business,
it was part of my long-term goal to be able to help those families with
My ability to meet that goal started with
my transformation at UNF, which has been possible because of a number of exciting
opportunities I’ve been given.
Last year, I became a member of the
Osprey Financial Group. OFG is a student-managed investment group using funds
provided by the UNF Foundation. My assignment has been to research the Latin
American region and two sectors of the U.S. economy. In addition to learning
how to make money grow through stock market investing, the experience has
taught me the importance of sticking by your convictions. You have to be willing
to have the stomach to stay with certain stocks you have researched even when
they may decline initially with the overall market.
My participation in OFG also allowed me
to take part of the Global Investment Research Challenge in which we compete
against other university investment teams from across the country. That
experience allowed me to see first-hand how well UNF students stack up against
the best student investors in the country.
I’ve also participated in SIFE (Students
in Free Enterprise). My project was to teach college students about personal
finance. I was responsible for presenting workshops to freshmen and seniors so
they could learn more about many aspects of financial planning.
Student internships have given me an
opportunity to take my classroom experience into the real world. At CSX, I was
an intern in car accounting which gave me a glimpse into the very complex way
in which railroads compensate owners of railroad cars. I was allowed to develop
a program to streamline that accounting system and save many hours of staff
At Deloitte & Touche, I interned in
external audit services where I had an opportunity to travel and learn more
about the best practices of many successful companies. I was also honored to be
selected to attend the Deloitte & Touche National Leadership Conference in
Arizona, the first such UNF student to be so honored.
This wonderful experience has prompted me
to accept an offer of full-time employment at Deloitte & Touche when I
graduate. The company has a big spot in my heart because it marks my coming of
age as a true professional.
Because of my UNF experience, I’m doing things I
never thought possible. As the first in my family to graduate from college, I’m
proud I’ve been able to live up to my mother’s aspirations for a better life for
her children in America. I also hope to serve as a role model for my younger
brother and sister. And the best part is because of scholarships, I’ve been
able to get a top-notch education without taking out any loans. UNF is truly
making a dream come true for me.