Many people have a vision for their senior year of college. Cookouts with friends, job interviews, a carefree time that’s a reward for four years of hard work. But often when we’re busy making plans for the future, life happens and we have to deal with the cards dealt.
Yamileth Lopez was completing her fourth year of business school in Venezuela in 1996 when her whole life changed. Her father passed away in America, leaving behind a convenience store in Hyde Park, Massachusetts with no one to run it for the family. Yamileth did not speak English, but she stepped up to the plate for her family, put school on hold and made the bold move to a foreign land.
She ran the business and began learning English, but never forgot her dream of finishing school and pursuing a career in business. She said, “I was born in Columbia and raised in Venezuela by my mother who started her own business. I was inspired by her to study business; I always enjoyed doing her bookkeeping so I decided to pursue accounting. That is what I was studying before I had to put everything on hold and move to America, but I always wanted to go back to it.”
Yamileth now had a family of her own, but she wanted to be a role model for her daughter, like her mother was for her, so she started looking for opportunities to get back in school. That’s when she heard about about the JVS Bridges to College Program and pounced on the opportunity. The program is a free 23-week college preparation program that helps candidates develop the skills necessary to succeed in college. Academic coaches even support students through the college application and financial aid application process. After Yamileth completed the program, they helped her get accepted to Bunker Hill Community College.
After over a ten-year-break, Yamileth was back studying accounting. She picked up right where she left off and excelled maintaining a 3.76 grade point average. She also interned at Raytheon, Staples and Liberty Mutual.
Following her credo to “seize upon every opportunity,” she had a chance meeting with the MSCPA. Lopez said, “My professor told me to come to a meeting and learn about the Massachusetts Society of CPAs and what it has to offer. I am always looking for new opportunities and there I met Barbara (Barbara Iannoni, MSCPA Academic Manager) and Chris O’Day (Academic & Development Specialist) and they told me about student membership and encouraged me to apply for scholarships.”
Apply Yamileth did and she has been the winner of two MSCPA scholarships the MSCPA/ALPFA Scholarship in 2014 and the 2015 KPMG Firm Scholarship (each scholarship was for $2,500). Among other achievements Yamileth was selected this past May as one of the 29 graduates of Massachusetts public colleges and universities honored at the State House by Governor Charlie Baker in the “29 Who Shine” ceremony.
Yamileth graduated from Bunker Hill and will be attending UMass Boston to complete her Bachelors in Accounting this fall. Next on her list of goals is to complete an internship at a public accounting firm (attention to any firms reading this!).
When asked what lessons she’s learned from her odyssey, Yamileth said, “Never give up. Look for opportunities and try to meet the right people and get on the right path. Things will fall together if you work hard and get in the right place.”