Juliana Formiga received her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Project Management in May this year. But the recent college graduate and employee of Ally Bank has an extraordinary story about how she got here, and it starts years ago in her home country of Brazil. Read her powerful Q&A.
Tell us about yourself.
“I was raised in Fortaleza, a city located on Brazil’s northeastern coast. It’s a city with overwhelming natural beauty and filled with some of the warmest, kindest, and most hardworking people on Earth. Unfortunately, it is not immune to the crime, corruption, and poverty that plagues Brazil and other countries in the developing world. Calling Fortaleza home taught me to have a quiet, measured confidence and a value system that is based on the merit of my work and my relationships.
I first came to United States in my early 20s to work as an Au Pair. I had never left Brazil and was seeking a new adventure, exposure to a new culture, and a break from the stressful life of living within South America. I instantly fell in love with this country and finally felt at home. I knew I had to do whatever it took to remain in America. This lead me through a few years of various nannying gigs and odd jobs before I found career longevity working in the Private Aviation Industry. I was in that field for about 10 years and I have that job to thank for meeting my now-husband, a pilot (Fernando).
We welcomed our daughter in 2015 and wanted to be closer to family, so after many years living my American Dream (which could have different meanings, for me it was always looking for a good place to live that would appreciate who I am for my own efforts. Anyone can succeed in the United States, as long as you work hard and follow the rules), we said goodbye to the states and moved back to Brazil.
Immediately upon returning I knew I had to come back to the US, this was the place that I called home, and where I wanted to raise my daughter. I furiously applied for any and every job I could and finally, in 2017, got a job with Bank of America – resulting in my family’s relocation to Charlotte, NC. I never imagined myself in banking and when I started at Bank of America, I felt like a complete fish out of water. I was confused by all the acronyms, names and how the company communicates between teams and stakeholders. I was so overwhelmed – I thought I would never make it – but I had the help of my incredible team. They taught me everything they could, but it was Todd’s guidance (my boss) for me to go back to school to establish an underlying foundation that propelled and motivated me to seek my degree. Ultimately, this was the greatest decision I could’ve ever made.
How did you come to ECPI University?
“ECPI is part of an incredible reimbursement program that Bank of America partners with to provide their employees an affordable and attainable option to continue their education. Through this program I was able to study whilst still being able to provide for my family. “
What hardships did you face on your journey?
“The journey was not easy – I’m a working mother and wife with a full-time job. Finding time and energy to dedicate to school/studying was very difficult and sometimes felt nearly impossible. But I never stopped looking forward – I knew what I was working toward. I spent my early years in Brazil seeking a better life and I finally had the opportunity to not only provide a better life for my family, but now even a dream life, something beyond what we’d ever even imagined. I had faith in God and in myself and knew that I couldn’t give up.”
What was it like attending ECPI University?
“This school surpassed any/all expectations I ever had. The faculty and staff are extremely accommodating and understanding, they will work with you and help create a schedule that suits your lifestyle and work commitments. They offer a wide variety of programs and fields of study, allowing students to discover many different fields and earn their degrees in topics they are truly passionate about. The team in the Financial Aid Department (especially Michelle Hayes) are also incredibly accommodating and make sure to take the time with you to fully understand everything clearly.”
My professors were all major proponents of hands-on learning, which gave me direct experience and helped me succeed in my field. They also struck up great weekly discussions and debates, which kept my classmates and I fully aware and engaged for entirety of the classes’ duration and provided us with new perspectives and new ideas to consider. They all encouraged us to conduct research using scholarly and peer-reviewed sources, so that our learning experience wasn’t biased.”