Tyler Manfrin and Daniela Cuevas are the 2019-2020 Eller Scholars of the Year. They were honored at the annual Eller Salute to Excellence on Friday, Oct. 11. Both students gave inspiring talks about their personal stories of perseverance. The text of the speech is below.
By: Daniela Cuevas
I am a proud first-generation United States born citizen. At a young age, my parents sacrificed their personal dreams, for the dreams of their family, in hopes of giving my brother and I a better quality of life. They immigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico to the United States in order to pursue better educational opportunities for us. For this I am eternally indebted and grateful. I continuously strive to make my parents proud after the sacrifices and support they have given up for me.
It’s surreal to think that only three years ago I was a nervous, but eager Freshman just beginning my Eller experience to now being a Senior, who is still nervous for the future, but in a way calm knowing that Eller has prepared me. But I must say, Eller has not only better prepared me for life beyond college it also has inspired me with the desire to keep on striving for more.
The past three years have been a fantastic rollercoaster of a time. From trying to find McClelland Hall on the first day of classes, meeting my mentor, Alex Fiandaca, and joining the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) my freshman year, to sophomore and junior year where I earned an internship with JP Morgan in New York city. And now, senior year, as I stand before you all, humbled and grateful to say that I have received a full-time offer from JP Morgan and will be moving to NYC post-graduation, because of the outstanding individuals that have surrounded me and the love and dedication this college has poured into me.
I am also honored to say that I have had the opportunity to be the president of the Bobcats Senior honorary, a group of 13 extraordinary seniors who work to preserve the traditions of the UofA, and to also serve as the president of the ALPFA a club dedicated to empowering young Latino professionals. But it does not stop there…because Eller has taught me to always continue pushing forward. And I am now preparing for what lies next.
This four-year journey has been amazing, but it has not been all rainbows and butterflies. It came with lots of hard work. There have been times where I wanted to give up, wanted to quit, thought I would never learn the material for a test, thought I wasn’t good enough, but I realized that I had all the resources and motivation to get through and in turn ultimately began developing my professional persona.
There are several times where I think, maybe I could have studied a little more, networked a little harder or so forth, but I am someone who truly believes that the best way to learn is from mistakes. Eller has taught me to not be afraid to fail, but instead to embrace those failures and become stronger from them.
My mentor, Alex, once me a great piece of advice as a Freshman, this was: don’t ever leave any situation with the “What if feeling.” What if I would have joined that club, what if I asked the question, what if I just applied…. I would like to share with you my what if moment, with my final round interview with JPM. The interviewer’s name was Valerie Dixon, I don’t think I will ever forget her name. I didn’t think my interview was going well and when the interview was about to end I had a quick thought to myself “I can’t leave this interview like this” so I blatantly looked into my interviewer’s eyes right as it was about to end and said “I am willing to work as many hours to get to where I need to be. I will work stronger than anyone in this room and I know I can be enough, just give me an opportunity to prove it.” And …the rest is history. So, like I said… don’t leave a situation with the what if feeling because what if I didn’t leave it all out on the table.
One last thing, one of my favorite quips comes from the Arizona lottery. You’ve probably heard it said on the radio: “you can’t win if you don’t play.” So, all I want to say, is shoot your shot, its time to play, and don’t ever leave a situation with regrets.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak in front of you all. Thank you to Jeff Welter and Veronica Atondo for nominating me for this outstanding award, thank you Eller, and thank you mom and dad. I am truly humbled by this experience, and lastly… Bear Down and Suit Up