First-Gen Latina Alumna Encourages Others to be their “Whole Self at Work.”

10.26.2023 Alumni News, Article, Business Analytics
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Carroll Sanchez (MSBA ‘21), senior consultant at FactSet, speaks with Jordan Garside, Chair of the School of Business Alumni Council, about how she continues her parents’ legacy as a trailblazer, leader, and role model for her colleagues and the greater community.

Jordan: You studied finance at Wingate University. Tell us why you chose finance as your field of study.

Carroll: I initially studied biology and was pre-med, not because I loved those fields of study, but because my parents immigrated from Peru and we were limited in our knowledge of the careers available to aspiring professionals. We understood some of the typical – and traditional – professional fields like becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but we were not aware of the possibilities available to someone interested in finance. While in college, I quickly realized that I was not passionate about pursuing a career in medicine or biology. I did, however, recall my first accounting class from high school, and I remembered my interest in – and passion for – that subject. For that reason, during my sophomore year, I changed my major and focused on finance. I knew that I had the passion and skills necessary to excel in this field. I also decided to pursue finance because it offered a way for me to learn about the U.S. financial system and leverage that knowledge to better myself, my family and my community.

Jordan: How did the Wake Forest MSBA program end up on your radar?

Carroll: While at Wingate, I took a class that involved using Excel to model real-world problems. I loved the class and was enamored with the power of Excel to model and solve problems. With respect to my interest in graduate school, I always knew that I wanted to earn my master’s degree, but I was unaware of the available graduate school options. I had received a job offer at graduation and had intended to work before pursuing a graduate degree. However, I graduated at the peak of the pandemic, and like many of my peers, my full-time offer was rescinded; this required me to reconsider my next steps. I was offered the opportunity to work part-time at the same company, but given both my interest in obtaining a master’s degree and the general macroeconomic uncertainty at the time, I decided that taking a risk and pursuing my master’s degree was the best option for me. When I discovered the Wake Forest Masters in Business Analytics program, it was the perfect opportunity for me. Not only was I interested in analytics, but I was also confident that the Wake Forest brand would equip me with an excellent education, unlock numerous opportunities and connect me with a vast, respected alumni network.

Jordan: What does being a first-generation Latina graduate mean to you?

Carroll: As a first-gen Latina graduate, I am focused on “paying it forward” to those in my community and being a role model for future generations. Having seen my parents’ experience as immigrants, I learned how to be resilient, resourceful and comfortable with risk and uncertainty. I learned that to be fulfilled, one must never settle; instead, follow your passions and, where necessary, take a risk and bet on yourself to succeed. As I have grown, I have become proud of my own experiences – and my family’s experience – because it is satisfying to know that we worked hard to be in the position we are in today. One key factor in our success has been our ability to adapt and seek continuous learning. My parents have constantly adapted to a new way of living; their experience inspires me to embrace a growth mindset. Over the years I have also learned how to set healthy boundaries. Initially, I tried to be a resource for too many people, and I failed to set the boundaries needed to ensure that I don’t get burnt out or overworked.

Jordan: You recently served on a School of Business alumni panel of Latinx professionals. What keeps you coming back to Wake Forest?

Carroll: Wake Forest helped me secure my current opportunity at FactSet, and thus I am an advocate for fellow Deacs! I have also noticed – and appreciated – Wake Forest’s focus on increasing the number of diverse students both on campus and in the School of Business. I want to serve as a resource for those students. While I was studying at Wake Forest, I did not see enough individuals who looked like me; my goal is to be available and fill that void for current students going forward.

Jordan: As a young professional, what career advice do you give other students interested in studying business?

Carroll: I would advise students to take the time to figure out what you want to do – and don’t just follow someone else’s dreams for your life. Be confident, take calculated risks and pursue your dreams. It is worth noting that, in order to follow your passions, you must first explore a variety of areas to find what you are truly passionate about. For that reason, be proactive. When you find it, do not settle! Instead, be willing to take a risk and bet on yourself to achieve your dreams.

Jordan: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

Carroll: I am proud of the fact that I set myself up for current and future professional success. I am a leader and role model for others in my office; for example, I serve on FactSet’s corporate and social responsibility committee, and I am an active participant in the company’s LatinX group. I have also gained more confidence in bringing my whole self to work. When I joined, I was the only LatinX individual in the office, and one of two people of color; this dynamic initially made me hesitant to bring my interests (ex. samba dancing) into the office. Now, I am confident and believe we are all more effective when we can be our whole self at work.