Alice Mungyu ’19
Carmen Augusto is a senior originally from Beira, Mozambique. She will be graduating with a degree in economics and applied statistics.
What are your plans following Commencement?
After Smith, I’m moving to California to join an asset management firm [called] BlackRock. I’ll be working as a financial analyst.
How do you think Smith helped you prepare for you and your career?
A lot of things. Besides the classes, my adviser Richard Kauffman, my economics and statistic classes definitely prepared me a lot, also just being comfortable with looking at what specific data set or numbers can tell about a particular population. Smith doesn’t necessarily have a financial program that you can rely on for such jobs. However, it has other opportunities such as the Pillars of Wall Street and programs such as Stock Bridge or a business one-month training. These are small things that they do to bridge the gap between a liberal arts college and other subjects outside of that. There is also supplementary support, such as the Investment Club, which can be an asset to helping you prepare for the real world.
Is there anyone in particular you credit your success to?
My host mom, my parents and the Lazarus Center, in particular Cathy Woods. [Woods] was nice enough to give me a mock interview, a brochure of financial terms and tips on how to prepare myself for job interviews. I read everything on my plane ride to my interview, and it went well. The Lazarus Center offered a lot of assistance and can boost your confidence level.
What does Smith do well?
If there was no financial aid, I wouldn’t be here today. I remember in my first year, my only source of income was my work-study, so I couldn’t afford to get certain things. Books for some of my classes are at least a minimum of $50 each, so I didn’t want to burden my parents. That’s a lot of money in my currency; it can be like a 20-day supply of groceries. I never had the privilege to call my parents and ask them for money. So I applied for the Smith Aid Society who gave me so much assistance. They’ve also helped me get glasses. I didn’t know I suffered from eye problems, and I couldn’t see clearly in my classes. When you’re coming from a poor background, these small gestures really help. Knowing that I have that source when I was struggling kept me going.
What are some difficulties you’ve encountered?
Job security. Jobs are so hard to get in the U.S., especially as an international student because you need companies to sponsor you. A lot of us come from disadvantaged backgrounds, so to be able to escape that cycle makes us seem like heroes to our parents. It’s a privilege to study in the U.S., so people back home have this idea of us being able to make money quick, support the family and change lives, but a lot of us realized that getting a job or staying at America is so hard because (a) you’re competing with people that don’t need to be sponsored [and] (b) you don’t have a lot of options because you don’t want to go back home and disappoint the people around you. It’s so hard to break through that cycle. It’s either we get a job or go home, and then it’s back to ground zero.
If there were one thing you could change about your experience at Smith, what would it be?
It’s been a very good four years, but if I were to change one thing, it would be the food. I’m strategically taking some of my classes during dining hours at UMass to avoid dinner here. [At UMass] they do sushi right or stir fry right in front of you! The food there is flavorful, and there’s a wide variety of dishes such as Chinese, African and Mexican.
Is there any advice you would offer to current Smithies?
Do not stress too much and [instead] be happy. To the seniors, make sure your spring semester courseload is light. It’s so hard to keep up, especially with job hunting, and it may be overwhelming. To the underclassman, make sure you take all the necessary required classes early on, so you don’t overload yourself in your senior year.