Eric grew up in San Diego and recalls his parents always had two or more jobs each when he was a child. When he grew up his parents worked so hard that he never felt that they didn’t have a lot of money. They would always try their best to get Eric and his brother everything they wanted. As Eric got older he became more cognisant of everything around him, noticing that the neighborhood he lived in wasn’t that great and that things weren’t as simple as he had thought.
One day, after Eric had graduated college, he was looking at a photograph of himself and his father. It caught his attention how young his father had looked, having no wrinkles on his face and a head with hair full of color. Seeing how much his father had aged while he was growing up made him feel very emotional. Growing up he never really understood his father’s motivations. As a child, Eric felt that his father was always really hard on him, and there were points in his life when he really despised his father. But, Eric mentioned that as he grew up his father became a better man. At that moment, looking at the picture, Eric had a swirling mix of emotions and realizations in a matter of seconds. Eric felt grateful for all the hard work his father had put in, but he also felt sad. He felt sorry for only now realizing how much his father loved him. He realized that he took his father’s hard work for granted as a child and that his father was only hard on him because he loved him and wanted to see him succeed.
Eric was a sophomore at Preuss School UCSD when his sponsorship began. He noted that his mentor, Dennis, was a great mentor. Dennis helped out a lot with helping Eric find his desired career path, with Eric’s college selection, and even taught Eric a bit about law. Dennis even took Eric and his Dad to their first sports event: a Padres game.
Nearing the end of Eric’s sponsorship he was blessed with a difficult decision to make. Eric now had to choose where home would be for the next four years at either Princeton, Yale, or Brown. He chose Princeton but the acclimation process wasn’t as easy as he’d expected. Eric said, “When I finally got to Princeton I realized that everyone there was smarter than I am. My first two years there were full of imposter syndrome – thinking, why didn’t I stay close to home? Why did I fly all the way out here and do this to myself? But I realized that they may be book smart, but I’m life smart. I’ve been through things that they haven’t and probably never will. So yeah, they may be smarter than me, but I sure as hell will work harder than them.”
During school, Eric did a lot of work in public policy and graduated from Princeton class of ‘22 with a major in Public & International Affairs. Once again, Eric found himself in a somewhat conflicting position. He had always thought that when he graduated from college he wouldn’t be like the others and “sell out” and work for a big corporation in the finance industry. But after another careful analysis, he realized that it wasn’t “selling out” at all. Eric noted, “I realized that I worked really hard to get to where I am, and my family, teachers, and mentors who supported me all worked really hard to get me here. It would be a shame if I graduated and wasn’t able to do something that would help me to break the poverty cycle and provide for my family. So, I figured, if the way out of that for me is to work in finance, so be it. I can find other ways outside of work to be able to do good.”
Eric now lives in Texas and works in Financial Advising near Fortworth. Moving forward, in a dream world, Eric says he plans to work in finance for another 20-30 years (assuming he still likes it). He noted if he is to ever leave finance he would love to work in something education-related because it’s where he feels his true passion is. He would like to see himself working at a nonprofit, in education policy, or even becoming a teacher one day!