AlumKnight Spotlight – November 2022

November 2022 Spotlight: Thalia Gomez

Thalia Gomez (Class of ’20), Barnard College of Columbia University, Graduating in 2024

Degree: Economics with a Political Economy track and a Minor in Spanish & Latin American Cultures

Career Goals: I hope to begin working on Wall Street as an analyst and then once I am more experienced, I would like to work for NGOs and the public sector helping other people manage their assets. I would also like to start my own company.

What has been the biggest surprise about the college experience? The biggest surprise for me was truly the diversity of people that I have come to meet. Growing up in Hialeah and being Cuban, I was always the majority and I fit in. However, by attending a prestigious university in the middle of NYC, I felt out of place in the best way. Whether its classmates, professors, speakers at the university, etc. I have been exposed to people from all over the world, from different income brackets (and I mean billionaires), all who have such interesting stories and ways of thinking. I have attended talks given by the President of Chile, the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, and the President of Bolivia on campus, something I would have never dreamed of. It’s definitely taught me to think about my own positionality in the world and become more well-rounded.

Most challenging coursework in college: I think my most challenging coursework was taking Python and Java when I thought I wanted to be a CS major (rookie mistake). To me coding is another way of thinking, another language so it was very time intensive, and we had several projects during the course where I was constantly in office hours asking questions. I survived and realized it wasn’t for me.

Accomplishment most proud of: I have been on the Dean’s list every semester; I was a Matriculate Advisor for two years where I helped two high school students get into college (one attends Columbia University and the other attends USF). I am a peer mentor for first years at Barnard, I am on the executive board for BlackGen Capital (a finance club for minority students). I am also a Scholar of Phelps Forward, a selective 3-year financial services industry career development program. This semester I was chosen as an Athena Fellow, 1 of 10 students selected to participate in a semester-long community of practice for changemakers seeking to tackle a specific challenge alongside their peers. This past spring, I interned at Alina Invest, a start-up mobile app that aims to provide inclusivity to financial literacy and investing. This summer I also interned at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) as a bank examination intern where I assessed implementation of complex financial institution’s policies against GAAP and regulatory guidance, to identify potential issues leading to enhanced monitoring for Freddie Mac.

Can you provide any advice to our current Knights? My #1 advice to anyone is to reach out to people and communicate! This goes for the college application process, finding an internship, a job, etc. (I am a big proponent of LinkedIn). If you have an idea or a question, don’t be afraid to ask. I was able to get my spring internship by cold messaging the founder of Alinea Invest because I saw that she was a Barnard alumna. I found out about FHFA because I went to office hours and spoke to my Economics professor about future career opportunities and goals. Even when it came to college, had I not had those conversations with Mr. Milian about what I wanted my college experience to look like, he wouldn’t have recommended that I look into Barnard. I would have not been put in contact with a JMMA student at Barnard and I never would have applied. If there is something you want to do or feel passionate about, share it with other people who could help make that happen. If there is something I have learned in college, its that you can’t do everything by yourself. You will go a lot farther if you have connections and a network of people who support you both professionally and personally. My other tip is to bother Mr. Milian as much as possible. Yes, all the rich kids who attend Barnard and Columbia had private SAT tutors, but they didn’t have the best CAP counselor. He’s amazing! Listen to him and put in the work and you’ll go far.

I paid for college with…: Barnard meets 100% demonstrated need so most of my aid (tuition, room & board) comes from the Barnard grant (~$67,000), Pell Grant (~$7,000), I have also been awarded the Brigid S. Barton ’65 Scholarship through Barnard. The rest is covered by subsidized loans and doing work study on campus.

Fondest memory from high school: I think my favorite memories was Mr. Rodriguez’s AP US History/Macroeconomics class. We did so many pranks on him and just had such a great time in that classroom (I’m sorry Mr. Rodriguez). I also loved to escape to Mr. Dean’s room or go and chismear with Mr. Cruz. In retrospect I really enjoyed growing up with some of my best friends