“My plans are so different now. I understand how to make a business idea a reality.”

—Valery Perez
  • Valery placed second in a regional business plan pitch competition.
  • She didn’t get a chance to compete in NFTE’s national competition, but when her father suddenly lost his job, he pivoted to assist his daughter with her business, Rosealloon.
  • The business helped Valery’s family through tough financial times.
  • She finished her college degree, started a professional career, and began giving back as a NFTE volunteer.

When Valery came up with the idea for her business as a freshman in a NFTE class, she didn’t know if it would succeed. She certainly didn’t know it would help get her family through tough times.

Valery enrolled in a NFTE class when she was a freshman in high school. She learned the basics of entrepreneurship and she came up with an idea for a unique balloon business: her balloons contained a natural rose inside them and were intended to be given as a romantic gift. She named her business Rosealloon and in time expanded her product line to include other surprising gifts inside a balloon. When asked how these things get inside the balloon, she exclaims, “That’s the magic!”

Although she was pleased to place second in a regional business plan and pitch competition, she could not participate in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge because her parents believed she was too young to go to New York to compete. However, applying the lessons she learned developing her business turned out to be worth a lot more than a trip to New York. When her father lost his job and could not make ends meet, he immersed himself in his daughter’s business and started selling Valery’s unique balloon creations himself. That helped pay the rent and saw the family through some very difficult times.

Valery says she is forever grateful to NFTE for what the global nonprofit has done for her and for her family. “NFTE didn’t leave me alone. I got ongoing mentorship and guidance,” she recalls. As she continued her business, she won EY’s Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award. She also used her NFTE experience on her college applications — and was accepted to The University of Texas with a $25,000 scholarship.

In this new phase of life, Valery continues to give back to NFTE, saying that her goal is to inspire other students who come from low-income communities to think with an entrepreneurial mindset and to aim high. She believes everything is possible for those who are willing to work hard for their dreams. Reflecting on the change that NFTE has made in her life, she says, “My plans are so different now. I understand how to make a business idea a reality.”

In fact, Valery’s career took her to a post as a Senior Business Advisor at EY.

EY tells her story in “Four lessons from the EY culture of mentorship.” In the piece, Valery recalls 2016 when she was involved with NFTE, named an EY Youth Scholar and networked with senior leaders at EY US. According to the publication, “she reconnected with people from the event and landed a job at EY US.” Valery is then quoted as saying she is “a firm believer that I wouldn’t be where I am in my career if it weren’t for my mentors. I feel like it’s my responsibility to help the next person. It’s my purpose in life.” 

From the NFTE Classroom to the EY Corporate Office

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 was 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.