2018 Best & Brightest: Stephanie Castro, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)

Stephanie Castro

University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)

“Driven by the support of my family to change the world.”

Fun fact about yourself: I taught myself English by watching shows on PBS.

Hometown: Plainville, MA

High School: King Philip Regional High School

Major: Accounting

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Cost Accounting

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Association of Latino Professionals for America, President
  • Isenberg Annual Toy Drive, Director
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, Senior Administrator
  • Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Council, Member
  • UMass Amherst Alumni Association, Board of Directors
  • Teaching Assistant for Intro to Financial Accounting
  • Teaching Assistant for Advanced Financial Reporting
  • 2016 UMass Amherst Homecoming Queen
  • Isenberg Ambassador
  • Coordinator for Diversity Recruitment and Enrollment

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • PwC – Boston, MA – Start Intern
  • PwC – Boston, MA – Lead Tax Services Intern
  • PwC – Boston, MA – Private Company Services Intern

Where will you be working after graduation?  PwC – Tax Associate

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Jeremiah Bentley (Cost Accounting) and Professor Yoon Ju Kang (Audit and Advanced Financial Reporting). Both professors took these tough subjects and made them easier to understand by holding engaging lectures and initiating thought-provoking conversations. Professors Bentley and Kang inspired interest in the subjects among their students, and, because of their classes, I feel better prepared to take the CPA and CMA exams.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I really appreciate how supportive and approachable our professors and faculty are at Isenberg. I believe our professors genuinely care about the student experience and want to see us succeed.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Higher education. I’m passionate about improving affordability and accessibility to higher education. After working on a team with the UMass Assistant Provost for Diversity to improve the enrollment of underrepresented minorities, it is one of my goals to create a non-profit to empower minorities and financially challenged communities through higher education and financial literacy.”

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? My proudest achievement is working with the members of Isenberg to grow the Annual Toy Drive by 500% over the last three years. Since 2003, we have worked with an underprivileged elementary school in Springfield, MA to give students toys during the holiday season. During the 2014 drive, we raised about $500 and gave gifts to one classroom; we just wrapped up our 2017 drive, and, with the support of our community, we were able to raise close to $3,000 to buy gifts for over 120 kids and their teachers. We even had enough money left over to donate more to the school in the spring. Working with the school taught me the importance of giving back and helping those in need, and it inspired my long-term goal of founding a non-profit.

Which classmate do you most admire? In response to the recent crisis in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico natives Andres Villeta and Gabriel Perez organized a variety of fundraisers to support their community back home. While balancing academics, extracurriculars, and jobs, Andres and Gabriel raised hundreds of dollars by dedicating several hours a week to playing the guitar and violin in popular areas around campus. Andres and Gabriel are an inspiration to our community and I admire them for this impactful initiative they took.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents. My parents left their hometown of Bogota, Colombia to raise my siblings and I in a country that would offer better opportunities than those that they had been exposed to. They had to completely start over – they left their families and friends and had to adapt to a new culture, learn a new language, and work several jobs – all because they wanted us to have a chance at better lives. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their love and support, and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices they have made.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Travel Europe and learn to code

Favorite book: Harry Potter series

Favorite movie: It’s not a movie, but my favorite thing to watch is Stranger Things.

Favorite vacation spot: Cartagena, Colombia

What are your hobbies? Traveling and Netflixing

What made Stephanie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?  

“I met Stephanie three years ago as a freshman and was immediately impressed with her affable nature, professional demeanor, excitement for her major and the school, and her commitment to serve others.  Since that time, Ms. Castro has been almost a constant presence in Isenberg’s recruiting efforts and outreach to underrepresented minority students.

Stephanie has served as an ambassador and as the president of Association of Latino Professional for America (ALPFA). In her role as President of ALPFA, Stephanie served a vital role on a student advisory board assembled to examine the issues surrounding diversity in Isenberg with a specific charge to help us to explore ways in which we might 1. Expand outreach efforts to the community, and 2. To improve the yield of URM students  As a result of these efforts, Isenberg has started new programs to reach potential students in their communities and hosting accepted URM candidates for special on-campus programs to increase the number of our accepted students that choose UMass—and Isenberg as their destination of choice.  Ms. Castro’s efforts did not go unnoticed and she was also asked to serve the University in a similar capacity in the Office of Enrollment Management as Coordinator for Diversity Recruitment and Enrollment.

Ms. Castro’s record of service to the University speaks for itself.  I will simply add that every single time the school or its leadership has asked Ms. Castro to serve or step into a service role, she’s done it with grace, presence and excitement that, quite frankly, I’m not sure we’ll ever duplicate again.

Ms. Castro has accepted a position with one of the largest public accounting firms in the world, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and will be joining their tax practice after completing her master’s program this summer.  In short, Ms. Castro represents Isenberg in the highest and best traditions of the school.  I am honored to have gotten to know her and we’ll be benefit in future years I’m sure from her continued engagement in Isenberg and the broader University community.  I truly look forward to continuing to work with Ms. Castro long after she’s joined her firm and left her academic career behind her.”

William D. Brown, Jr., PhD,
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs


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