Every valedictorian has a story to tell. This week our featured alumna is the 2011 valedictorian of the Manhattan campus: Annette Mendoza. On a cold Friday, we caught up with her for an interview about her life as a Nyack Warrior and as an MBA.
Annette fits into the new category of modern-day college student. A mother of three and full time professional in the banking industry, Annette began her career in 1994 and in 2007 decided to finish her bachelor’s degree in New York City at Nyack College. She began the interview by saying: “I started as a [bank] teller and worked my way up.” She wanted to continue her education but life had its demands. Her career was going well and she had kids in elementary school. In a one-year span she had doubled her salary and jumped 10 levels at Dime Savings. She became a trainer and then assistant manager, diving into analytical work.
On returning to school to finish her degree, she said, “Looking back it didn’t seem fast. But now it just seems amazing.”
Annette’s Job in a Nutshell
“I don’t do the same thing every day,” said Annette about her work at Signature Bank. Up early to help her kids out the door, she then leaves her home in Queens and arrives at her Manhattan office by 8:30am. Her day ends at 5pm and in between she works with branch managers as a technical software analyst. Her responsibilities include working within the mainframe, ensuring accounts are created and maintained properly. She runs integrity reports to check client data so that nothing has been entered incorrectly. She helps customers and bank managers on a daily basis and when big projects come up, such system upgrades, Annette reports to the office on the weekend too. While life may be hectic she laughed, saying, “I really enjoy what I do.”
Her Life as a Nyack Warrior
Annette returned to school to study business administration. After 15+ years in the workforce and a busy family life, she made the leap and took night classes at Nyack College’s Manhattan campus. “I had a feeling in my heart that Nyack was the place for me,” she said when we asked her how tough it was as an undergrad mom. “The professors were very supportive. Dr. Grant was always available and accommodating especially when I wanted a finance concentration in New York City. He helped me make it happen so that I could achieve what I needed to.”
Professors in her undergraduate classes helped Annette plan for the future and when she became valedictorian of her graduating class, they encouraged her to continue for a master’s degree in business administration.
Getting her MBA
Annette didn’t think she could continue if she wasn’t “100% full-hearted” about the program. She was taking time away from her family. She was sacrificing sleep and free time. So when she met the director of the graduate program, she knew what she was facing: 16 intense months that was only possible because of her family, friends, and program mentors. “Dr. Becker was an excellent professor. I saw his passion and knew that I wasn’t just a number to him. There was a personal touch and the professors knew who I was and were concerned about me. It was a blessing.”
How has life changed with an MBA?
Annette replied simply, saying that she can work in a wider array of jobs. Her workflow is effectively structured according to best practices that she learned at Nyack College. The master’s degree in business administration helped her create tools to improve her job performance. “I work smarter not harder,” Annette said, adding that she feels better prepared for the unknown and confident that her career in business has a solid foundation. In the future, she even hopes to teach business and personal finance.
Advice for MBA students?
“Don’t give up!” Annette explained. So many times she had an urge to stop and call it quits. But pressing forward and finishing was one of the greatest achievements she’s had. In a small cohort of eight students, Annette said the camaraderie helped too. Each class is a step that the entire group experiences together.
‘There’s a lot of changing.” Annette described the true challenge of the program. “You are becoming a master in this field. You are being shaped and molded. You will cry, laugh, and then you will look back. There will be a sense of accomplishment. So just keep moving forward!”
Final Thoughts and Thank you’s
We asked Annette if she wanted us to highlight anything in particular in this article. She answered, “Yes! My husband, Carlos. I couldn’t have done it without him.” Her many thanks go out to her children: Christopher, Faith, and Jeremiah for their understanding and support. Finally, she gives her best wishes to the next cohorts in the MBA program at Nyack College.
Note from the Editor: Alumni Spotlight is a special column dedicated to Nyack Warriors around the world. Whether on the banks of the Hudson River or in Battery Park, Warriors go far and wide. Do you know an alumnus with a great story? Please message us so we can share their story on our blog.