SET FOR SUCCESS: Jolanda Sanchez '19
Meet Jolanda Sanchez ’19, a recent SEBA alumna who is pursuing a career as a tax associate with KPMG, one of the global big four accounting organizations. Sanchez, who is the first in her family to graduate from college, credits SMC’s Lasallian commitment to helping first-generation college students realize their higher education dreams, and acknowledges that this changed her life.
“The High Potential (HP) Program was my biggest support. From the beginning with Summer Academic Institute for Leaders and Scholars (SAILS)—a summer bridging program that gives you an insight into college life before you start college—I knew I had people on my side. The mentors and leaders of HP make it their goal to help you succeed. They provided resources like tutoring and counseling, and if they couldn’t help us, they would refer us to someone in the College that could.
Knowing that her HP “fam” had her back, Sanchez more than thrived, both socially and academically. She became involved in student life, performing with the Ballet Folklórico Guadalupano dance club. And while she first thought her major would be business administration with a concentration in marketing, her focus soon shifted to the art and science of accounting. “When I was in my first accounting class with Professor Cathy Finger-Podolsky, she made it simple, and I enjoyed doing the homework. Throughout the semester, I learned a lot and could see myself pursuing accounting.”
"There’s a home for everyone at SMC."
Her discovery led to further opportunities, including taking on a student leadership role as Accounting Association President in her junior year. During one of the College’s annual Meet the Firms gatherings, another connection took root, and she landed an internship with KPMG in 2017. Sanchez made the most of her experiential learning opportunity, noting that it led to a career that she enjoys immensely.
Reflecting on her academic journey, Sanchez encourages others who are first-generation college students to consider Saint Mary’s. “I would tell them about the High Potential program and all the help they provide to first-gen students. But I would also tell them about the well-rounded education they would get both overall and within their major. SMC is a small school where you get to enjoy the relationships you build with classmates and professors. Just because it’s a small Catholic College doesn’t mean it should be disregarded. There’s a home for everyone at SMC.”