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Q&A With Jennifer Lozano Rodriguez, a Colombian Single Mother and Jenkins MAC Student

Jennifer Lozano Rodriguez is a student in the Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) program at NC State’s Poole College of Management. Vikas Anand, associate dean of academic programs at Poole, recently interviewed Jennifer about her experiences. Get to know Jennifer in this Q&A.

NOTE: These responses have been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, where you’re from, and what brought you to Poole College.

My name is Jennifer Lozano and I am from Colombia, Bogota, the capital. I have been in the U.S. for around six years. I moved here in 2018 with my son. I am a single mother. I am still learning English, so my pronunciations are a little awkward. When I first came here, I didn’t speak English, so I started with ESL at Wake Tech Community College for one year and a half. And after that, I started to take curriculum classes there. I got my Associate in Arts from there and then I transferred here to NC State.

What attracted you to NC State?

Since I am a single mother, I have to look for income to support my son. I started to clean a medical building in the evenings. One of the doctors there got his bachelor’s degree from NC State. One day I was cleaning his office and saw his diploma in his office and I don’t know, I just started to do some research about the university and I just fell in love with it. I like the inclusiveness, diversity, and mindfulness that the university has. That started to call my attention and I just decided I want my name in one of those diplomas and I just started working hard for that. I tried to keep my GPAs as high as possible at Wake Tech so I could apply here. And this was the only university that I applied to. It was my only option. Being here is a dream for me, honestly.

Why did you choose to pursue accounting? 

In Colombia I started university in business management, but when I started accounting classes, I just fell in love with accounting. It was just natural for me. I understand it pretty well and the concepts behind it. And I took an associate course about accounting and I have some background experience working with cost accounting. That’s how I knew that it’s the career I want.

It is very impressive that you learned English and now you are a grad student. Have you had any challenges because of that?

Definitely. Especially when I have to make presentations. And it’s curious because I am really good at presentations or talking with people in Spanish. That’s one of my strengths. But when I have to communicate in English, I don’t feel the same level of confidence. So it pushed me back a little. It’s challenging for me when I have to speak in front of people because I am ashamed or scared that people cannot properly understand what I want to say. I think that’s been the most difficult part of my learning process and adapting to this life. 

What are some of your favorite experiences here at Poole College?

The people around me. Knowing people, especially the relationships that I build with my professors, I like to ask questions. So I think every accounting professor knows who I am. The other thing is just having the opportunity to learn. I’m not just here for a diploma or to get the degree — I just want to get that knowledge. The level of knowledge that the university gives me is something I really like. The quality of the education. 

What has been your favorite class so far?

That’s a hard question. Even though I am not pursuing auditing, I think the class with Scott Showalter has been my favorite. Even though it’s challenging and a lot of work, he forces you to actually go deep in the concepts, understand them well, and also put them into practice. So even though it’s hard, I learned a lot.

Tell me about your son. 

He’s almost 16 years old. He’s a good boy. But he doesn’t love school. I think it’s because he’s in that teenage stuff where it’s hard to figure out what we want in life. So I am struggling a little bit with him on that. Because I love education and he’s the opposite. So it is hard. But he’s a good kid and he’s sweet. I think that we make a good team. He’s my compliment, my everything. I just want to be a good role model for him. Trying to show him that anything in life that you want is possible. And not just the material stuff. Money and all that — it comes, it goes. But the only thing that you keep is knowledge, and the experiences — your travels, where you live, the food and moments you enjoy with people you care about — that’s the most precious stuff. So I just want to teach that to him.

You’re a graduate student, parent, and you work part-time. How do you manage your time?

I am really good with that. I have to admit that. I like to schedule time for all my to do’s for each day, and I try to accomplish everything in those time frames. I like to work out in the morning as well. That’s the first thing I always do. I have classes in the morning and another one in the evening, and I have to go and pick up my son from school because he goes to Sanderson High School. I pick him up and bring him to the university. He has to wait for me until I finish my last class around 4:15pm. 

What are your plans for after graduation? 

I actually have a job offer with Grant Thornton. I will start with them in January of 2025 when I finish my master’s degree. My plan is to work with that company for a couple of years, getting as much experience as I can, and then decide if I’d like to continue working at a public accounting company or move to something more specific in industry. 

Want to learn more about the Jenkins MAC program?

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This post was originally published in MAC Program.