Inspiring the Next Generation of Investors and Leaders
By Solange F. Brooks, NAA CEO
In 1999, our founders created the New America Alliance to advance the Latino Community in four areas: (1) education, (2) political awareness, (3) economic empowerment, and (4) philanthropy. Our founders being successful and intelligent people made sense that education was at the top of the list. Education, in all its forms, reflects our country's hope, optimism, and success.
Initially, NAA made considerable donations to sponsor scholarships and programs outside the organization. Still, it was not until 2020 that serious thought was given to creating a program with hands-on mentorship by NAA members. The target for the program was younger students that did not grow up discussing investments around the dinner table, or if they did discuss investments, they did not see themselves as part of that world. The desire to expose younger students to financial services and demystify investments was the foundation of the Pathway Fellowship Program. The Gateway Scholarship Program, a form of assisting these Pathway Fellows with college expenses, was a natural result of those conversations.
This is our second year of the Pathway Fellowship Program – and what a year! We increased the number of Fellows from 12 students in 2021 to 20 Pathway Fellows in 2022. This was possible due to the energy and enthusiasm of 17 participating firms that understand the importance of creating the next generation of leaders. Their generosity of time and effort and team members' openness to participating as mentors made the program successful.
This year we had Pathway Fellows ranging from Juniors in High School to Juniors in College in 15 participating schools. We have to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge all the effort that Maria Chavez, the Pathway Program Director, provided to ensure that every firm had the proper student and that it turned out to be a win-win situation.
The program has evolved to include webinars on various topics, as well as inviting current students and associates to come in and share their career experiences. This year, we had the privilege that NAA members offered the webinars, in which topics such as hedge funds, private equity, global equity, real estate, and infrastructure were presented and discussed. Important to note that the presenters also discussed their professional trajectory through the years and how they ended up at their chosen posts. Sometimes the best advice to students is to talk about your career experience and the road you took to your chosen profession. Yes, there is a direct route, but you can get there via many creative, meandering paths throughout your life.
I urge you to seriously consider becoming a mentor for the summer of 2023. The four young people I worked with during the summers of 2021 and 2022 could not have been more perfect. My fellows were Camila Estrada, Alyssa Gute (2021 - below), Alexandra Maldonado, and Gonzalo Armenta (2022 - pictured above). They were from the same high school I attended many years ago, which made me re-live my wonderful high school years. However, I found them to be much more prepared for the college experience than I ever was. They were thoughtful and eager to learn about the financial services industry and everything about the world around them. I learned much from them, and I owe them a debt of thanks.
Lastly, I am reminded of what Dolores Muñoz, NAA Institute Chair said, “For myself, personally, I’ve always wanted to give back. I started my career as an intern, and I am thankful for the numerous people that helped my career along the way. I feel very fortunate to be part of the NAA Institute, because now I can do the same for others.” That about sums up the Pathway Fellowship Program.