Here's to the bold: Esperanza perez '16

As someone who’s lived in San Francisco eight months now, Esperanza Perez hasn’t seen much of the city. She’s too driven by ambition to let any inclination toward sightseeing distract her from achieving her professional goals. Which is why when she’s not working (and she works a lot), she’s studying for her CPA exams, subsisting on just four or five hours of sleep per night.

“Growing up,” says Esperanza, “we always knew that if you wanted something you need to work hard. Even if a door closed, you keep trying. If you fall, you get up. You learn from your mistakes. It makes you stronger.”

The oldest of five siblings—and first in her family to graduate college—Esperanza is a first-generation citizen, born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Mexico 26 years ago in search of a better life.

“I would see my parents working very hard,” says Esperanza, “They would work long hours, and I would see them struggling. I would see how tired they would be. And I knew that I wanted to help them. And I knew the only way to accomplish this was going to college.”

She attended Mount Mary, where she changed her major five times before settling on the right path (accounting), and hasn’t looked back since. Her senior year, she landed an internship with investment banking firm Robert W. Baird & Co.

“I knew an internship at Baird would open a lot of doors for me,” she says. “I was so determined to get a position there.”

Esperanza was a part of Mount Mary’s Promise Program, which provides academic, career and financial support to first-generation and limited-income college students each year, and the program provided assisted to Esperanza as she pursued her internship goals.  

“The Promise Program help me review my resume, and I literally applied to every position they [Baird] had open in the hope that I’d get an interview. And it worked! I got an interview and ended up getting an internship there!”

Her time at Baird did open doors. Specifically, at Price Waterhouse Coopers in San Francisco, where she was hired to be an associate—no small feat, considering an entry-level position with the firm typically goes to Big 10 or Ivy League students. Not long after graduating in 2016, she was California-bound.

As an associate at PwC, Esperanza works on a team that ensures the numbers their clients provide are accurate.

“What we do impacts the economy,” says Esperanza, “What makes my job important as an accountant is that our research and everything we do provides comfort to shareholders so they can make the decision of whether or not to invest. Knowing something you do makes a difference is so rewarding.”

As Esperanza blazes a trail toward the world of Bigger & Better, she proudly points to Mount Mary as being integral in shaping who she is today.

“Mount Mary made me feel unstoppable,” she says. “Made me feel like I could overcome any struggle that may be in my path. Mount Mary made me bold by reinforcing my beliefs. And also by giving me the tools necessary to succeed. It’s an amazing school that cares for you. That knows you by name. That wants you to succeed and be bold and be powerful.”

Large as her aspirations are career-wise, the way she hopes to impact the world is as personal as it is profound.

“I want to set an example for my younger siblings,” she says. “I want to tell them that they can go to college. That even though it’s hard, you can do it. Nothing should stop you. If you want something, go for it. Be fearless.

“Mount Mary creates unstoppable women. Just like me!”

Here’s to the bold.