September 30, 2020 • By Sydney Charles
The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) has approved a chapter at the University of California, Irvine. Established in Los Angeles in 1972, ALPFA is the first national Latinx professional association in the United States and has an active network of over 95,000 members. The chapter was formalized in summer 2020.
When creating the chapter, Founding President Danny Granados MFIN ’20 sought more professional resources for Latinx students at UCI.
“I didn’t notice a lack of Latinx representation, but I wanted to start the ALPFA chapter for professional development. I wanted to help people build their resumes, professional etiquette and practice mock interviews,” he said.
Granados—along with founding members Gabriela Escobar MIE ’20, Erika Zamora MFIN ’20 and film & media studies undergrad Kenneth Flores—joined forces in December 2019 with faculty and staff from the Merage School. This included Patricia Wellmeyer, academic director of the Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) program, Jana Cheng, associate director of the MPAc program and Burt Slusher, director of recruitment and admissions of specialty master’s programs.
Despite the disruption of the pandemic, the founding executive board was still able to create a detailed constitution and move forward with the application process.
Slusher said, “March came along and students shifted to remote learning and had to pivot to the new circumstances like many of us. Yet this did not deter them. What is even more inspiring to me is that the founding board included all students that were graduating so in essence, they knew that formalizing this chapter and all the work involved was really about leaving a legacy for future ALPFA UCI members.”
The founding board has set up ALPFA for success.
“The pandemic hit, and launching the program came to a screeching halt,” Granados explained. “However, it turned out to be a sort of blessing in disguise. The founding board and I were able to operate a bit more deliberately and plan out events for the following year in more detail. We weren't able to hold many events before we graduated, but we left the second board piles of notes, schematics, blueprints, templates, contact lists, mailing lists and speeches, and were able to coach them for about a month before we graduated.”
According to Slusher –– who will serve as staff liaison for the new organization ––launching this chapter of ALPFA will bring new opportunities and experiences to the students at The UCI Paul Merage School of Business.
He explained, “The organization focuses on professional leadership development opportunities and this is significant for UCI and the Merage School since members have access to 50,000 paid summer internships through numerous Fortune 1,000 corporate partners. This is an organization that is inclusive and has an expansive network of professional opportunities that will now be available to UCI students and those that join the organization.”
Incoming president Manuel Marin BA ’22 believes ALPFA will provide useful tools to ensure success for anteaters in their future careers.
“I believe it’s important to have an ALPFA chapter at UCI because it offers a platform for the Latinx community to come together and to empower each other as future professionals. UCI is now a Hispanic Serving Institution, but our focus is on making it a Hispanic Thriving Institution by growing our community and partnerships,” he explained. “Because we believe there’s a need for Latinx leaders and supporters in the business community, through the Merage School we believe we have an opportunity in growing our chapter with the right resources and guidance.”
Wellmeyer was inspired to help bring ALPFA to life at the Merage School due to her personal experiences. Her parents decided to migrate to the United States when she was in elementary school and this move proved to be challenging for her family:
“Being in a new country, having to adapt to a new language, customs, and without professional degrees or networks, it was a struggle for us financially and socially. Heading into college, my sister and I didn't have guidance or resources to explore career opportunities or develop our professional skill-sets,” she said.
The ALPFA chapter will serve to enrich the student experience at the Merage School through resources, programs and access to networking opportunities.
“Students will have access to special scholarship programs, quality programs focused on professional development and ALPFA’s vast network of professional members and employers—all which can significantly enhance student opportunities for networking, paid internships, jobs and ultimately, long careers in business and accounting,” Wellmeyer said.
Along with career development, Marin is confident the chapter will also provide opportunities for individual growth.
“I would like to build a sense of community and network that would add value to the student’s professional lives. I would like for it to be a stepping stone for students who seek to improve themselves not only as future professionals, but as individuals as well.”