By Julie Kayzerman
Feb. 26, 2020 — Fairleigh Dickinson University alumna Ramona Cedeño, MBA ‘04 (Metro), was 19 years old when she immigrated with her mother to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
Landing in New York City, N.Y., Cedeño worked at a discount store near Penn Station and then at a shoe store in the Bronx in order to help her mother save enough money to bring her three sisters over as well.
Now, Cedeño is the founder and CEO of FiBrick Financial Services and has been featured in “Bloomberg” as a powerful Latina emerging in the U.S. job market.
“Thinking back, I realize I had full financial responsibility of my life and partially for the lives of others at a very early age, which might explain why I’ve had a very steady career,” she says.
Growing up up with a “work-at-home” mother who was raising four children, Cedeño remembers that her mother worked as a seamstress full-time while also having multiple side gigs in order to provide for her family and being home for her daughters. She ran savings clubs with neighbors, sold clothes and sold produce grown on their land.
It’s no surprise that when Cedeño came over to the States, she took advantage of every opportunity in front of her. A year after her immigration, she began attending classes at a community college, earning her Associate Degree in accounting. She then graduated from Baruch College with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting, still working to help support her family as much as she could.
Eventually settling down in New Jersey, commuting to a finance job in New York City, N.Y., and caring for her first baby, Cedeño decided to go for her Master of Business Administration in finance at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“I wanted to pursue my MBA, and FDU made this possible by offering full-day Saturday classes, in addition to evening classes,” she says.
Armed with an MBA from FDU and years of experience in the finance industry, Cedeño made the move in 2015 to create FiBrick Financial Services. Starting from the ground up with just one client, FiBrick now helps hundreds of business owners and their companies by providing customized accounting and finance solutions that support their growth.
“I had this nagging feeling of wanting to do something bigger than what I was doing at my job at the time,” Cedeño says. “What better way to do that than to start my own company and decide who I want to work with and what type of help to provide?”
While Cedeño went from selling shoes to owning her own business, she encourages current FDU students to “never stop learning.”
“I was told once, ‘be a sponge.’ I practice that every day because everything we learn can be applied to our jobs, lives and especially in your businesses,” she says. “Build a good support system of people who will be there when you make big moves. Face your fears, then push them aside. Once you realize you are in control, you will feel you can do anything you set your mind to.”