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        Accounting, Student Spotlight

        Harbert sophomore paying it forward and paying it back

        September 12, 2023 By Madilyn Ford

        All News


        Johanna Mondragon-Olvera portrait

        Johanna Mondragon-Olvera speaks at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund's National Leadership Conference in August.
        Photo courtesy of Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

        First-generation Harbert College of Business sophomore Johanna Mondragon-Olvera is a natural born leader.

        So, it’s not surprising she was selected to attend the three-day National Leadership Conference (NLC), organized by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), where she networked with professionals and other scholars, had her resume and LinkedIn reviewed, completed real and mock interviews, and participated in a career expo.

        Of the approximately 120 students at the conference, Mondragon-Olvera was the only scholar from an Alabama college. Other scholars hailed from the Ivy League and other prestigious institutions. Mondragon-Olvera, who plans to major in accounting, described her conference experience as life changing.

        “Honestly, I would say that we are top tier,” she said, noting how Auburn’s accounting program has a built-in internship, which she learned is not a part of other schools' programs.

        After the conference’s professional development activities, the scholars enjoyed social events. “There was a dance floor with all the Latin hits and so to just get to scream our favorite songs in Spanish and have everyone know the words was the best feeling as a Latina,” she said about their final night at the conference.

        However, Mondragon-Olvera's first event with HSF, was in 2021 where she attended the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) to prepare for the college application process that would lead her to Auburn University.

        “This summer I returned as a mentor in training for the YLI,” she said. An experience that reunited her with many of her HSF friends before the NLC later in the summer. Mondragon-Olvera speaks highly of these fellow scholars.

        “We had a familia,” she said. “And when I say it’s not just what they called the group, it truly is an HSF familia.”

        Johanna M-O and fellow scholars at NLC

        Johanna Mondragon-Olvera (center) with fellow scholars and HSF mentors at the National Leadership Conference.

        Because of her first-generation status, Mondragon-Olvera knew she wanted to attend college close to her family. Born in Birmingham, AL and raised in Fairhope, AL, she says she really wanted her parents to be involved with her college life, to experience things they themselves were unable to.

        When she arrived at Auburn, she said she felt set for success in the Harbert College of Business and found the people that made it feel like home.

        After taking Harbert’s BUSI 1010, required of all business students, and networking with Harbert’s School of Accountancy Program Champion Colby Lakas and various Beta Alpha Psi members, Mondragon-Olvera chose to major in accounting.

        “My personality was part of it, I am very detail oriented” and “the other thing was job security, that is 100% something I have seen, it is a career in demand,” Mondragon-Olvera said.

        Outside of her studies though, Mondragon-Olvera is a new member of Harbert’s Executive Society. She said she looks forward to meeting prospective students and making sure they feel welcome with what will become their home once they arrive at Auburn.

        Additionally, Mondragon-Olvera is serving on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team within Harbert’s Student Council. In this role, she said she focuses both on fostering a welcoming environment for current Harbert students and on outreach to high schoolers, ensuring there’s awareness about the College of Business as a career path.

        She also serves as the assistant director of finance for Campus Traditions, which is a part of the University Program Council (UPC). In this new role, she is learning more about management and budgeting.

        “Volunteering is always something that I have been very passionate about,” she said, referring to her involvement with the Campus Kitchen at Auburn, which aims to fight food waste and hunger in East Central Alabama, and the Esperanza House, where she is introducing HSF to high schoolers who want to pursue higher education.

        “And that’s where one of my passions is in terms of mentoring and teaching, particularly giving back to my own community, the Hispanic community” she said.

        A common saying amongst HSF scholars and alumni is “Pay it forward and pay it back.” This is something that Mondragon-Olvera is already doing with the Esperanza House and the entire Auburn Community.