Jhonny Jimenez, BS’20, MBA’21 (Flor), Finance

A combination of a portrait and illustration of a man.

(Illustration: Matthew Hancock)

“I started with community college at Raritan Valley Community College. They had a partnership with FDU, providing a reduction in tuition if I transferred. I did the 4+1 program, earning both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at FDU.

My parents came here from Colombia, and I was born here.

To me, being a first-generation graduate means that my parents’ sacrifices were worth it. They came here with nothing. They knew no one, they didn’t know the language, they left everything to give my family a better life.

My parents would tell me, ‘Education is important. You don’t want to work as hard as we do.’ It was an added pressure, though.

First-generation minority students have that additional layer of stress, making sure we’re getting our education and that our families are good. I lived with my parents, so I chipped in where I could.

I was a full-time student who worked full-time so I didn’t have to take out loans. I was an inside sales representative for a home heating-oil company, taking 15–18 credits per semester until I graduated.

My favorite professor was my mentor Kenneth Betz [senior lecturer of economics and adviser to the Finance and Investment Club]. I would recommend him to anybody in finance or accounting. He made sure we were all doing well academically and professionally, really preparing us for the world after graduation.

I think the hardest was my last undergraduate semester. I was taking four undergrad classes and two graduate classes, was part of the Finance and Investment Club and the honor society for accounting and finance, and was being inducted into Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity. I also had a full-time internship!

My fraternity brothers really pushed me when I didn’t want to go to grad school. They said, ‘The longer you wait, the less you’re going to want to go back.’

Honestly, I don’t think I would have gotten my MBA if it wasn’t for them.

Then COVID-19 hit. My master’s was completely online, so I never went back to campus. All my jobs since graduation have been remote.

Currently, I work as a financial analyst at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, supporting their U.S. supply-chain team. I’m sitting at tables that I probably wouldn’t be sitting at without my degrees.

College is important because not only are you learning about the career you want to go into, but you’re also learning a lot about yourself. You get a degree and make amazing relationships, friendships and memories.

I would say to other first-generation students, ‘Don’t give up and don’t quit.’ I had so much self-doubt, and other first-generation college students probably do, too. And just have fun. The college years are the best years of your life!”