Looking back at “my story,” I realize that I began taking the road less traveled early in life. I found great happiness doing things that were not traditional for a growing Mexican woman, from the electives I took in high school to the career path I would eventually choose.
As a first generation college student, many feathers were ruffled in the Ramirez family when I ventured off into higher education. “Girls aren’t supposed to go to school.” “What comes next, working outside the home?” Yes, in the 21st century, it’s still uncommon for Mexican women to seek higher education, but I gave it a whirl. As graduation quickly approached, I was an established vet tech (a story for another day). I had regular patients that I loved and they loved me. The doctors I worked for were not my bosses, they were a second set of parents. After seven years, I had no intentions of leaving my vet family.
I still remember the internship fair I found myself casually walking through in 2012. No pressure. No stress. I didn’t need an internship, I had a job. I stopped at a table, shook a few hands and met some really great people. On that morning in 2012, two HORNE team members took the time to explain the world of Specialty Accounting, now our Government Services practice group. I was introduced to public assistance. I passed them my resume and little did I know, that five-minute interaction would change my life. I jumped off into the world of disaster recovery and government services with a HORNE internship that summer of 2012.
In hindsight, I remember brunches with friends and networking events with college acquaintances where I struggled greatly to explain what exactly it was that I did. Like many of my friends, I held an accounting degree, but I didn’t do month-end closing, or taxes, or audits. I consider myself a part of something bigger that I didn’t expect. I was helping the Gulf Coast rebuild after major hurricanes. On occasions steel-toe boots were part of my work attire, but most importantly, I partnered with government agencies to process their FEMA reimbursement request. I am by proxy a guardian of Federal tax dollars, by helping ensure disaster funds are dispersed according to State and federal law and meet the statutory mission of the grant.
As my exposure to and passion for disaster recovery increased and HORNE continued to grow, my career flourished. I learned more about government services. I basked in a career where I knew I was helping to make the world a better place. In fact, I partnered with a government agency to rebuild my own community after Hurricane Ike.
I chose the road less traveled, the unconventional route. And it’s true, it has made all the difference.
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