Victor Souza made a promise to himself when he started at UMass Lowell: “To work a little less and dedicate myself to getting involved, meeting new people, creating new relationships and helping people.”
As a high school student in Peabody, Massachusetts, Souza worked up to 60 hours a week at Dunkin’ Donuts. 
“I just worked and sent all the money to my family back in Brazil,” says Souza, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts, but moved with his parents and brother to the town of Resplendor, in southeast Brazil, when he was 9. He lived there for seven years, milking cows on the family farm, before coming back to Massachusetts to live with his grandmother and attend high school.
“My family was going through some financial hardships, so we decided I’d come back to work and help them out, and also go to school,” he says.
As an accounting student in the Manning School of Business, Souza fulfilled the promise he’d made to himself. He joined two student organizations, Manning Collegiate DECA and the Manning Leaders Council, and became a UML Student Alumni Ambassador. He traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, for the Association of Latino Professionals for America national convention.
“My experience at UMass Lowell has been stellar,” he says. “We have this incredible group of hardworking people. I’m just so happy that I was part of it.”
Souza, a first-generation college student, got plenty of professional work experience along the way. He landed summer internships at Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) after his sophomore and junior years. As a senior, he interned in the audit department at the accounting firm LGA in Woburn, Massachusetts.
“It was a totally different experience than EY, but it was great to get that perspective. It will definitely help me make an educated decision about which path to take down the line,” says Souza, who was recognized by the Boston chapter of Financial Executives International as UML’s “Outstanding Senior.” He also received a $5,000 scholarship from the Massachusetts Society of CPAs Educational Foundation.
With his degree in hand, Souza is returning to EY for another summer internship before taking a trip to Brazil to see his family. He then plans to focus on taking the CPA exam.
The weekend before Commencement, Souza crossed an item off his bucket list by skydiving with friends in Maine.
“I’ve always liked adrenaline, and roller coasters weren’t doing it anymore,” he says.
After making it safely back to the ground, Souza says he had a new perspective on his road ahead.
“Graduating college and going out in the real world, especially in the times we’re going through now with the pandemic, can seem scary,” he says. “But I’m treating it like the jump: I’m not going to stress about it. I’m excited. I’m ready to take it on.”