You might say that Jackie Lopez has a knack for selecting mentors.
Jackie’s a second generation Woodbury MBA grad, following in her mother’s footsteps — and then some.
“My mom’s been a key factor in my academic/professional career,” Jackie says. “She leads by example.” And vice-versa. After graduating high school, she “unknowingly” inspired her mother to enroll in adult school to complete her high school diploma. Her mother continued her education at community college — with Jackie — earning her bachelor’s degree (along with her daughter), and pursued her MBA at Woodbury. “She worked full time and went to school full time,” Jackie says. “Her dedication and discipline to her academic and professional pursuits made me want to aspire to a similar career path.”
And bringing that career path closer to fruition? For that, Jackie enlisted Jeff Neumeister, chair of Woodbury’s Accounting program, as mentor. “As a maturing professional, to have the faculty as a resource for guidance and support is a huge advantage for us,” she says. “Most of all, to have a professor who believes in you was the encouragement I needed to believe in myself.”
Jackie has also looked to Paul Sabolic, whose entrepreneurship course helped her solidify her career trajectory. “The course was the opportunity to envision something I’ve always wanted – to have my own business.” It was a chance to address details large and small: creating a business plan, writing a mission statement, codifying values, defining services offered, setting a pricing structure, developing a marketing strategy, conducting SWOT analysis and preparing financial projections.
“Today, my business plan is a reality,” she says. “I work as a sole proprietor and I’m growing my clientele.” Most recently, she formed a strategic alliance with Prof. Neumeister’s new firm, Neumeister & Associates, Inc.
As an undergrad, Jackie attended Pepperdine University’s Graziado School of Business and Management Fully Employed program. When she was ready to take the next step and mulling an accounting certification program, her mother naturally suggested her alma matter. “Woodbury had interested me as well, because of its AACSB accreditation and the MBA program offered a concentration in accounting and finance,” Jackie recalls. Above all, she wanted a credential aligned with her accounting work experience.
Woodbury proved to be an outstanding fit. During her course of study, Jackie represented the university at an MBA competition at Howard University, served as MBAA Vice President and won this year’s “Emerging MBA Leader” Award.
“The award came as a big surprise,” she says. “It means the world to me because it says that I made an impact. My peers gave me the confidence to take advantage of opportunities the university offers. And with a mentor like Prof. Neumeister, Woodbury’s intimate campus/classroom setting enabled me to build peer connections, be involved with the school and network with professors.”
It’s enough to make a mother (and a university) proud.