I grew up on Chicago’s South Side as one of seven children of Mexican immigrants. In December, I will proudly become the first in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree when I graduate from Roosevelt.
Getting through college as a first-generation student at times has been a big struggle, not so much because of the course load, but rather because of all that I must do to best prepare for life after college.
For first-generation students like myself, guidance can be difficult to come by. My mother stayed at home to care for us. My father worked construction as a stone mason for many years before contracting Alzheimer’s disease, which forced him to retire. While they always encouraged me to go to college, my parents were not always able to give me all of the advice I needed to be a success in today’s professional business world.
Fortunately, I had the privilege during the 2016-17 academic year of being selected as a Clearing Corporation Charitable Foundation (CCCF) fellow. I can’t say enough about the experience, which has empowered me as a first-generation student and enriched me as a finance major with both knowledge and skills that are critical for a career.
“The program has allowed me to network with professionals as well as like-minded student fellows, and has given me the opportunity to polish myself for a professional career that I plan to have as a bank examiner.”Monica Acosta (BSBA, ’17), CCCF Fellow
The program has allowed me to network with professionals as well as like-minded student fellows, and has given me the opportunity to polish myself for a professional career that I plan to have as a bank examiner.
As a CCCF fellow, I heard speakers, went to Microsoft Excel and Access workshops, and participated in a mock-interview session. All were invaluable for my professional development.
I also developed an elevator pitch, which goes something like this: “Hello, my name is Monica. I am a senior at Roosevelt and already have a job offer to become a bank examiner with the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in Chicago, where I am currently completing an internship.” In my mind, this kind of practice is worthwhile, for I hope to one day move to Washington, D.C., and even work abroad with the OCC as a bank examiner.
The CCCF program gave me the opportunity to connect with many professionals, and also provided me with a $2,500 stipend that helped alleviate to some degree the financial stress involved with being a college student. I used the stipend for books, paying rent and living expenses.
As I look forward to my graduation, I know that the skills and contacts I have made through the CCCF program will be useful in the full-time job I begin in January 2018 as a bank examiner. I also know that my parents, who never had the opportunity to go to college, will be proud when I walk across the Auditorium Theatre stage in December as the first in my family to obtain a diploma.
After nearly four years at Roosevelt, I have learned to navigate college and career: how to apply for admission, where to go for help, how to write essays for scholarships, the steps that are involved in finding an internship, what to emphasize in a resume, how to present myself in an interview, and so on.
That is information that I believe could be useful to young people. It is the reason I choose to volunteer at my former elementary school, the Ruben Salazar Bilingual Center in Chicago. I talk to kids there about the high school experience, the importance of getting a college degree and the road that lies ahead in becoming a professional. I am confident that many of these kids will be just like me — the first in their families to receive a college degree and pursue a professional career — and I want them to be ready.
CCCF Donates $1 Million to College of Business
Roosevelt University’s Heller College of Business is preparing a diverse group of students — many whom are the first in their families to go to college — for the financial workplace with a new $1.04 million gift from a local foundation.
The Clearing Corporation Charitable Foundation (CCCF), which gave Roosevelt $262,136 to start and sustain a CCCF Fellows Program during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, made its new seven-figure gift in July.
The long-term objective of the program is to promote diversity in the financial sector, and at least 40 percent of each year’s fellows are women, first-generation college students and students from underrepresented population groups. In fact, of the 40 fellows who have completed the program, 82.5 percent were first-generation students, 30 percent were female, and 25 percent were African American and Hispanic. In addition, 36 of the 40 fellows were placed in internships, many of which led to full-time jobs at prestigious financial institutions.
“After seeing the strong record of the program in its first two years, and its commitment to diversity, we became convinced that Roosevelt and its CCCF Fellows Program should be expanded,” said David Johnson, a CCCF board member and long-time supporter of the University.
This year, 10 more undergraduate business majors are CCCF fellows, and plans are to turn the initiative in fall 2018 into a CCCF Fellows Business Honors Program, which will accept 10 new fellows every year through 2022.
Tanweer Hasan, professor of finance and accounting, and founding executive director of the CCCF Fellows Program, has been credited with developing and leading the program to success.
“Thanks to this gift, we will be able to upgrade the current program,” Hasan said, “which will give our fellows more opportunities to be involved in faculty-led independent research projects and off-site field trips.”