CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–December 10, 2015. As Roosevelt University graduate accounting major Guadalupe Cotto looks back on the many obstacles she has faced in returning to college as an older student, she has come to realize that her world never was falling apart; it was simply falling into place.
“I’m so glad that place was here,” said Cotto of Roosevelt University, who will receive a Master of Science in Accounting degree and deliver the student Commencement address to fellow graduates on Friday, Dec. 11 at the University’s Auditorium Theatre.
A stellar student and the recipient of nearly a dozen scholarships, Cotto came to Roosevelt in 2012 as a community college transfer student and career changer without many resources to draw from. She received her bachelor’s in Accounting from Roosevelt in 2014.
“I knew I was in the right place when I stepped off the elevators on the 11th floor (at Roosevelt) and read Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do,’” Cotto says in prepared remarks that will be delivered to fellow graduates during the upcoming Commencement.
Casualties of the recent Great Recession, Cotto had been laid off from an executive assistant’s position at the Chicago Board of Education, while her husband, Ernesto, could find little work as demand for the hotel banquets he serviced fell off during the economic downturn.
The couple, who are residents of Chicago’s southwest side Garfield Ridge neighborhood, had to make financial adjustments to cope with the situation, and wound up spending their savings in order to survive. However, both knew they had to hit the restart button if they were to again be financially successful – and that meant obtaining college degrees.
“Our family had to come together and support one another, which meant sacrifices for all of us,” said Cotto, whose family setbacks while at Roosevelt also have included the sudden deaths of a mother-in-law and brother-in-law.
“Many times I felt defeated and thought of quitting,” said Cotto, who will be the first in her family to receive a master’s degree. Currently, her husband also is working on a culinary arts degree from the Washburne Culinary Institute at Kennedy King in Chicago. He will graduate from the program in the spring of 2016.
“Guadalupe is a role model student and someone who I see going places with her life and career in spite of all of the challenges she’s faced,” said Claudine Daley, director of accounting at Roosevelt University and one of Cotto’s mentors.
Upon graduation, Cotto will take the Certified Public Accountant exam. She also already has a full-time job lined up as an accounting associate with Price Waterhouse Coopers, which is one of the largest accounting firms in the nation.
“My faith and my family have been my rock and reason for success,” Cotto says in remarks for her fellow graduates. “Looking back, I can honestly say, ‘I’m thankful for being laid off – in the words of my favorite song, ‘my world was not falling apart; it was simply falling into place.’”
As a Roosevelt student, Cotto has won many awards and scholarships, including the national merit-based Public Company Accounting Oversight Board award for 2014-15, the Illinois CPA Society Advancing Women in Accounting Scholarship in 2014 and 2015, the American Society of Women Accountants Scholarship in 2014-15, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs Outstanding undergraduate student and the Adelante! 2013 Leadership Conference scholar, to name just a few of her achievements.
“Guadalupe Cotto has worked hard, been dedicated and never once complained,” said Melissa Stutz, assistant vice president for student engagement at Roosevelt and a student advisor who has written 14 letters of recommendation on Cotto’s behalf. “This is a role model – not only for Latina women – but for all women,” said Stutz.
As president of Roosevelt’s Accounting Club, Cotto has significantly increased membership as well as visibility for the organization. She has also been a campus ambassador and graduate assistant in Roosevelt’s Heller College of Business.
“I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t gone back to school and challenged myself. But I know that by being here, I’ve not only earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but have made lasting friendships, discovered my potential and am prepared to re-enter the workforce,” she said.