By Ed Brennen
Seven undergraduate students from the Manning School of Business
took advantage of learning, networking and career growth opportunities this summer at the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) national convention in Nashville, Tenn.
The students – Yamell Gonzalez, Braulio Lopez, Ambar Pena, Eliana Purtell, Eridania Rodriguez, Victor Souza and Fred Tavarez – were accompanied by Manning School Asst. Dean Leticia Porter.
Souza, a rising junior business administration major from Brazil, interned this summer at Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young, which was the lead sponsor of the ALPFA convention.
“I learned so much and met so many brilliant ALPFA members,” says Souza, who served as the student lead on the weekend trip. “My biggest takeaway was that I should truly embrace and be proud of who I am. Different backgrounds and mindsets are not only what companies want, but are what they need.”
Founded in 1972, ALPFA is a national nonprofit organization that provides professional development workshops and career resources to its 92,000 professional and student chapter members. The UMass Lowell chapter was named Northeast Chapter of the Year in 2016 but has been inactive the last couple of years.
Manning School alumna Natalia Hilton, a double River Hawk who earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2000 and her master’s of business administration in 2006, has volunteered with ALPFA since 2013 and became the organization’s chief of staff last year.
In June, Hilton met Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer
at the Institute of Management Accountants’ 100th anniversary celebration in San Diego. Hilton urged Richtermeyer to send Manning School students to the convention in Nashville.
“This is the magic of ALPFA and the heart of Sandy: Six weeks later, seven UMass Lowell students were there,” says Hilton, who met privately with the students during the convention and helped share their résumés with companies including Twitter.
Students were selected to attend the convention based on academic achievement and engagement in leadership activities.
“We hope that this will create many opportunities for other Manning students to engage with the organization and on campus,” says Richtermeyer, whose office helped sponsor the trip.
Hilton, a native of Puerto Rico who grew up in Lawrence, says she became “teary-eyed” when she saw the Manning School students networking with more than 2,000 Latino professionals, attending workshops and meeting recruiters from companies like RSM, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson and other companies.
“It’s only seven students,” she says, “but it’s seven students who now have the opportunity to tell their friends, ‘Hey, we may not know how to do this because we’re first-generation students, and our parents may not know how to help us do it, but we can help each other. And we have a lot of mentors available to us. We just have to reach out.’”
While most of the students were not familiar with ALPFA before attending the convention, they all returned home determined to revive the UML chapter.
Tavarez, a rising senior business administration major from Andover, says he wants to be more involved with ALPFA “because of the great community, opportunities and connections you make through the organization.”
“Connecting with others is a big thing, because you never know who that person you met can be in the future,” says Tavarez, who plans to attend ALPFA’s 2019 Northeast Region Student Symposium and Career Fair in Boston in September.
Pena, a rising senior business administration major from Boston, hopes more UML students can experience the sense of family that she felt at the convention.
“They would constantly mention that they were an ALPFAfamilia, meaning they were all one big family working hard in order to succeed as Latinos,” says Pena, who worked as a human resources co-op at Putnam Investments in Andover this summer.
“Having spoken to professionals and people that were once in my position at the convention, I realized that if you work hard enough and are open to resources and opportunities, you will be able to succeed in this world no matter where you came from or how you started.”