SUNY Oswego and the state Educational Opportunity Program offered a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for Carlos Minaya, the difference between a perilous path and his exciting future working in the one of the world’s top accounting firms.

With both a 2018 bachelor’s in accounting and a 2019 master of business administration from Oswego, Minaya earned a position as a full-time associate accountant working in real estate tax for PricewaterhouseCoopers in a New York City office near Grand Central Station. It’s a world away from what might have awaited him otherwise in the “often dangerous,neighborhoods” of the same city he knew so well, he said.

His high school GPA and limited finances meant that he was either not accepted at schools or didn’t receive enough aid to support his dreams. But EOP “allows students of underrepresented backgrounds with undue limitations, whether financial or academic, gain admittance to quality universities,” Minaya said. “In other words, they invest in potentially successful individuals who are just in need of additional financial and academic support. That alone changed my mindset of academia and professional success.”

The result was “a ‘once in a lifetime’ type of opportunity to change my life around,” he added, so he gladly “moved to the small college town of Oswego in search of peace, focus, and success.”

In addition to finding his way in the classroom, Minaya became involved in many different clubs and programs, even growing into leadership positions. Among those most important to him were the Investment Club (“the organization that I gained the most life skills from,” he said), Student Advisory Council, where he worked directly with the dean of the college’s School of Business (“I networked with highly successful alumni and became well-known throughout campus as a successful individual”) and Beta Alpha Psi (where he got to travel to conferences, network and gave back by helping community members with tax returns and tutoring other students).

“Involvement on campus is where you may develop the skills learned in the classrooms,” Minaya said. “I learned a lot of soft and hard skills required by employers. They also pushed me to learn more about myself and to never settle for less. ... I learned how to work in teams when leading the direction in those organization's mission and vision. I learned how to become a well-rounded leader because of it.” 

Instead of staying on the East New York streets in Brooklyn, he gained access to a greater world through financial support EOP offers to students who want to study abroad. “Thanks to my first trip outside the Western hemisphere through a quarter course to Paris during my sophomore year, I became interested in traveling,” Minaya recalled. “In just one week I learned the importance of budgeting when abroad, the different cultures outside of the U.S. and the importance of knowing more than one language.”

Minaya also had the opportunity to see more of the U.S. thanks to internships which also prepared him for his prestigious professional placement. He lived in Washington D.C., Sunnyvale, California, and New York City for internships at the headquarters of top employers including the Federal Transit Administration, Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers. “My junior and senior years I was already worry-free because I no longer had to necessarily apply to places; I already had offers a year in advance,” Minaya said.

During his graduate studies, Minaya was also named a Diversity Graduate Fellow, which covered his MBA tuition. Funded through SUNY, the program supports those who demonstrate they have overcome a disadvantage or other impediment to succeed in higher education and to enrich the student body and their future professions.

Minaya said he is “extremely grateful” for the chance that EOP and the college gave him, which established his core values and course for the future. “Gratitude is one of my core values, and I am definitely grateful for all the experiences I lived through while attending SUNY Oswego,” he said. His hope is for others to have similar opportunities.

“My piece of advice to anyone reading this story is to remember why you are at SUNY Oswego; to develop yourself personally and professionally,” Minaya said. “The job search does not begin on your last semester of your senior year; it really begins the moment you step into your first classroom.”