Tarleton Commencement Speaker Overcame a Rocky Start


STEPHENVILLE — Josephina Valdez had big plans of becoming an accountant when she started college. Then they were almost derailed her first year.

Her struggles were turned into strengths as she righted the ship, earned a regular spot on the Dean’s List and is the featured speaker at 10 a.m. commencement exercises Friday, Dec. 11.

“My freshman year at Tarleton, the first semester on campus, I was struggling with my accounting coursework,” she recalled. “I went to my supplemental instructor, and she kind of took me under her wing as an unassigned mentor.”

That change in her educational dynamic gave Josephina the confidence to handle the accounting courses and eventually become a supplemental instructor herself.

Besides earning Dean’s List honors every semester as an undergrad, she was part of the Honors College, the College of Business Student Advisory Board and Delta Mu Delta Honor Society. She was president of the Institute of Management Accountants and a member of the Economics Society and Finance Society while working part time as an accounting intern at TechnipFMC in Stephenville.

She also served as a Becker Ambassador — a liaison between the university’s accounting department and a company that provides CPA exam prep materials.

A graduate of East View High School in Georgetown, she looked at other schools before settling on Tarleton.

“I never felt like I was going to be just a number here,” she said. “I applied to several larger colleges, but they were just not as personal. My first experience on campus was all I needed to know that Tarleton’s gates truly are always open. The people I met that day gave me the opportunity to be myself and be valued as an individual.”

Josephina hopes to take her degree to an elite accounting firm and already has her foot in the door with an upcoming internship at Fort Worth’s KPMG. She drew on the support of her Tarleton professors, especially Dr. Charles Thomas.

“I sat down and made my résumé the best I could. Then I took it to him and said, ‘I want you to be as harsh as you can. Help me make it great.’ He invested so many hours in me, critiquing my prior experience, experience I wouldn’t have been able to gain without the help of my mentor.  Without this help, I wouldn’t have gotten that internship.”

She hopes to turn the opportunity into a permanent position with the firm in either the tax or auditing department.

Obviously a busy student, Josephina’s schedule remains full even after graduation. Besides her internship and planning for the CPA exam, she has started her master’s classes and expects to be back on the commencement stage in a year.

She credits Tarleton for her academic success and feeding her drive to take on a career in accounting.

“As a first-generation student, I just wanted to make the most of my time at Tarleton. I got involved on campus and explored all my resources. I try every day to be the mentor I once had, to inspire others and help them to be successful. Because without the help from others along my journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”


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