When Juancarlos Figueroa, BS Finance ’20 was a young child, the Figueroa family immigrated to the United States from Peru, falling in love with the Northern Virginia community, their home to this day. When it came time to decide where to attend college, George Mason University was the natural choice due to its accessibility for commuting students and a diverse community that is so reflective of the region. Originally declared as an economics major, it wasn’t until he took several courses that Figueroa found his true calling in finance. “Derek Horstmeyer was one of the professors who became a very helpful mentor to me,” he says. “The School of Business has very supportive faculty who want to get their students somewhere where they’re enjoying their work and utilizing their skills.”
While on campus, it was imperative to Figueroa that he lived his Mason experience to the fullest. And he did just that, taking leadership positions in the Hispanic Student Association (HSA), Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), and the Student Managed Investment Fund (now the Montano Student Investment Fund). His Mason experience has continued since graduating, and as an alum he has served as vice president of the investment committee for the Montano Student Investment Fund and continues to serve on the Latino Alumni Chapter Executive Board.
Through his continued engagement with the university, Figueroa has found immense joy in watching programs, such as the Montano Student Investment Fund, grow. In his alumni supervisory role of the fund, he drew upon his past experiences to guide and mentor students. “Besides making sure that guidelines were being followed as the students managed the fund, I had the past experience, and so was able to give advice to them as they worked on making pitches for the fund,” he says. By continuing to positively impact Mason, Figueroa finds that he is further developing his own professional skillset and expanding his network. “Within the Mason community, there is so much to learn and so many different kinds of people to interact with,” he says.
Mason’s diverse student body, and the way in which that diversity is celebrated across campus first attracted Figueroa to Mason and is still something that fills him with pride about the university. “When I was in the Hispanic Student Association, we came together and worked with the various affinity groups,” he says. “It was wonderful to spotlight and learn about different cultures in a way where we weren’t competing and trying to outshine each other.” He found that working with students from distinct cultural backgrounds was not only an enjoyable experience, but it opened his eyes to new ideas and perspectives, strengthening his overall education.
“A guiding philosophy for me has been to strive for mastery of my craft,” he says. “I think that’s what most of us aim for.” He continues to live according to that philosophy. While working full time as an accounting specialist at SOFIE, he is enrolled in a graduate program, with the larger goal of becoming a data scientist. The attitudes that have turned Figueroa into a leader within the George Mason community continue to help him evolve into an impactful and high-achieving professional who knows that his greatest ambitions are well within his capabilities.