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First in Her Family, Cabrini Graduate Makes the Most of Experiences

Posted on 5/15/2020 3:49:03 PM

When she was 14, Banesa Castaneda (’20) accompanied her father on an estimate for his landscaping business and was immediately enamored with the scene: the evaluation, the negotiation, and eventually, the deal.

“From then on, I realized that working with clients and business owners was where I saw myself going,” said Castaneda, who graduated this past December, majoring in Business Management and minoring in Finance and Leadership.

The first in her family to attend college, Castaneda wasted no time taking advantage of her degree, beginning work in January as a Collections Representative at PayPal in Wilmington, Del. This first step on her career path in finance and business management was the culmination of a decades-long journey characterized by entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and resiliency.

Twenty years before she received her Cabrini diploma, Castaneda and her family emigrated from Mexico to the United States in pursuit of a better quality of life. They did not speak English at first, and employment opportunities were scarce, Castaneda said.

“Considering the fact that my parents didn’t know the language, they still became hugely invested in finding not one but two different jobs to provide for my four siblings and me,” Castaneda said.

Seeing her parents overcome countless obstacles to make the most of their opportunity in a new country, Castaneda vowed to honor them by doing the same.

“Growing up in a humble home I realized that I could one day rise up and be that businesswoman that I wanted to be—but only if I took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me,” Castaneda said.

Although she says she was shy in high school, Castaneda began dedicating her time and energy to extracurricular activities soon after arriving at Cabrini in 2016. These commitments came to define her experience as a Cavalier and opened up opportunities beyond Cabrini’s campus. 

As a first-year student, Castaneda joined Cabrini’s IMPACT Living and Learning Community (LLC), which links students with leadership experiences with local private and public sector leaders while they also build relationships with classmates. Empowered as a leader for the first time, Castaneda was soon selected as Leadership Intern for the Student Engagement and Leadership (SEaL) Office, where she planned and led workshops with Cabrini LEADStrong students.

These early roles enabled more specialized business and finance engagements for Castaneda as she progressed through her Business Management program. Following an internship as a Credit Analyst at Discover in New Castle, Del. the summer before her junior year, Castaneda returned to Cabrini’s campus and began working as Treasurer for the Cabrini Finance Association.

It’s the role Castaneda carved out for herself at Cabrini, however, that she cherishes most.

In fall 2018, Castaneda helped found the Cabrini chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)—for which she also served as Treasurer.

Banesa Castaneda (third from right) and the Cabrini University chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)

“While Cabrini provides you with opportunities, it also allows you to create opportunities for yourself and feel comfortable celebrating your heritage,” she said. 

Castaneda received an IME-Becas Scholarship, granted by the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia as part of a partnership between Cabrini and the Mexican Government, in her junior and senior years.

Through ALPFA, Castaneda attended a 2019 Northeast Regional Collegiate Symposium in New York, where she connected with JPMorgan Chase & Co. recruiters who hired her for a Global Finance and Business Management internship based in Newark, Del. Castaneda spent summer 2019 at JPMorgan preparing external data reports, including financial budgeting and forecasting, and held meetings to enhance the company’s onboarding and application systems with stakeholders from North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. 

From her experience with one of the world’s largest financial institutions, Castaneda began to see the trajectory of her young career. 

“In five to 10 years, I see myself in a financial analyst role helping businesses achieve their goals by providing business services and funding for them,” she said. “I see myself pursuing a path that allows me to communicate with customers about different types of industries and offering business funding solutions to help them realize their greatest potential as business owners.”

In November of 2019, weeks before her early graduation as a member of the Class of 2020, Castaneda was selected as the student speaker for the Cabrini Visionaries Gala, an annual fundraising event that honors esteemed faculty.

“My parents never had the opportunity to attend college,” Castaneda said at the Gala. “Therefore, I am thankful for having the chance to attend Cabrini and make my parents proud. This institution has helped me realize my potential and that there is always room for growth.”