Eduardo Iniguez is on a roll. After receiving scholarships after scholarships from the Cerritos Foundation, he was just accepted to a prestigious university with scholarships.
For a 25-year-old, Iniguez is very mature in his manner and is incredibly driven by focus.
"Growing up in a small town in Mexico, where it was natural for any children to help family and neighbors, kind of helped me mature early in my childhood," said Eduardo Iniguez.
"A 13-year-old driving a farm truck was not an unusual sight," said Iniguez, who learned the value of hard work at an early age.
Iniguez came to California with his family when he was seven years old. His family moved around Watts, Riverside, and Palm Springs, and finally found the best place to settle in Downey.
"Growing up, I did not enjoy school at all," he confides. As his family did not know the importance of education, he was never encouraged to do well in school. He received nothing but Fs, Ds, and Cs from junior high all the way to high school. He failed 7th grade and had to repeat it, and he was transferred from high school to continuation school (he thought of simply dropping out many times.) However, half of his family had dropped out from school, so every time he felt discouraged, he held himself together so his parents weren't let down anymore.
As a result, he barely managed to graduate from high school in 2005. The same year, he began working at Bank of America as a teller. It was there that he found his talent for finance and sales. Looking back, he believes the hard working mentality made him more mature than any other 19-year-olds, and he confidently interacted with customers who were mostly older than him. He was promoted to a personal banker within four months, and soon became the third highest selling personal banker among all Bank of America branches throughout Orange County.
In 2007, he began working for a car dealer who offered a more stable salary. He, again, excelled and became the top sales person. Soon he was promoted to a financing manager; however, he realized that he reached the ceiling there. Without a degree, it was hard to climb up the corporate ladder any further.
At the same time, his girlfriend and friends suggested that he go back to school and get a degree. He and his girlfriend crunched the numbers and figured that he had enough savings to attend a community college and transfer to a university as a full-time student. Iniguez resigned from the car dealership to focus on education and began attending Cerritos College in 2008.
In his first semester at Cerritos College, he just did not know what he was supposed to do. Thus, he made up his mind. "I will be selfish and ask millions of questions to the instructors. I may be annoying to others but I don't have to make friends." Indeed, he admits he only made a few friends in the classroom. However, he became known to his instructors as a dedicated and motivated student, and he was able to nurture friendships with instructors who gave him great advice and more networking opportunities with other instructors.
An accounting class he took from Professor Debra Schmidt was an eye-opener for him. He knew that accountants existed but never knew what accounting entailed until he took the class. He believed it was the perfect profession for him with his financial background from previous jobs. He declared an accounting major and continued on with his education while involved with club activities. He also served on the college's shared governance committes as student representative, per recommendation of one of his club advisors Professor Peter Moloney.
One day on campus, he ran into his old friend from junior high school. It was Michael Barrita, then-student body president. Iniguez had little knowledge of student government until he reunited with Barrita and was introduced to its system and functions. In no time Iniguez was serving as the commissioner of budget and finance - a perfect job for him - and managed nearly an $870,000 budget of Associated Students of Cerritos College.
Life does not always go as planned. Iniguez ran out of money while attending Cerritos College. He was squeezing through on a $35-a-week budget for both food and gas. The time he began attending college coincided with the economic downturn, and his father lost his job of 16 years. Seeing his family struggle, the last thing he wanted to do was to ask his parents for help. When he was in dire need of money for living and for school, he saw a link to scholarship opportunities on Professor Schmidt's web page.
He found many scholarships that were offered by the Cerritos College Foundation and began applying. With his dedication, involvement, and the excellent GPA, he was awarded four scholarships from the Foundation and two other scholarships totaling nearly $5,000.
"The scholarships I received from the foundation definitely helped me get through the hardest time," said Iniguez. "Without it, I had no choice but to drop out and start working."
Fate works in mysterious ways. In May 2011, Iniguez received the acceptance letter for the fall 2011 semester from the USC Marshall School of Business, the school of his dreams, with a Transfer Dean Scholarship; however, to attend a special orientation that USC offers for students and parents, he had to pay a total of $410. He wouldn't have had money to take his proud parents to show the school of his dreams that he is attending beginning this fall, if it weren't for one of the scholarships from the Cerritos College Foundation that he had just received the week before.
Through a committee he served, he met Dr. Bryan Reece, Dean of Student Success and Trojan to the core. "Dr. Reece helped me with the personal statement for USC and applying for some scholarships offered by USC, so did Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Linda Rose." It is clear that the connections he made at Cerritos College all came into play just when they were needed.
Iniguez plans on double majoring in business and accounting, then continuing to the dual Juris Doctor/Master of Business Taxation degree program at USC to gain a broad legal education with in-depth specialization in taxation. One day he will become a CFO for a Fortune 500 company.