January is national mentoring month and NFTE volunteers are truly the secret sauce of our model. They bring real-world business experience to NFTE learners and connect alumni to growing professional networks. As the 2022 NFTE Corporate Volunteer of the Year, EY is our greatest contributor of mentors for NFTE learners. A great example of this support is in the story of NFTE alumna Valery Perez-Guerrero. EY has been instrumental in Valery’s journey from the NFTE classroom to the corporate office.

Valery started her business, Rosealloon, in the NFTE classroom in 2009. Not only did her business provide valuable financial support for her family, but it also connected her to a future job opportunity at EY!

The first time Valery heard of EY was as a freshman in high school when she pitched Rosealloon at the NFTE South Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge at EY in downtown Dallas. She told her family, “One day I’m going to work there!” Later, through the success of her business and educational achievements, Valery was awarded the EY EOY Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Scholarship in 2016 and was recognized at EY’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year gala alongside other extremely successful entrepreneurs in the community. There, Valery’s connection to her fellow entrepreneurs and the EY team made her believe that anything is possible. In fact, it was there that she met Morgan Watson, Partner at EY, who actually helped Valery land a job at EY years later!

Now, Valery is a Senior Business Advisor at EY and also serves in a leadership role focused on career development in EY’s Hispanic & Latino Professional Network. Passing on the mentorship to the next generation of NFTE students and alumni is incredibly important to her. In fact, her NFTE and EY journey came full circle at NFTE’s 2022 South Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where she had the opportunity to represent EY and award the EY EOY Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Scholarship to this year’s recipient!