Thursday, May 23, 2024

UTSA grad Stephanie Florez to pursue her real estate career in New York City

UTSA grad Stephanie Florez to pursue her real estate career in New York City

MAY 13, 2024 — Stephanie Florez watched her parents succeed through hard work and perseverance. She applied the same philosophy to her time at UTSA. The end result: She is graduating in three years with her B.B.A. in Real Estate Finance and Development and a full-time job as an investment banking analyst with Wells Fargo in New York City.

Florez, a senior in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, always envisioned a career path for herself in business. Growing up a child of immigrants (her mom is Korean and her dad is Colombian), she witnessed their passion for entrepreneurship, which included flipping houses and owning a restaurant.

“Business is the backbone of the economy,” said Florez, a Bold Promise scholar from San Antonio. “It can be applied to any field.”

The UTSA Bold Promise Program is a groundbreaking tuition promise program for high-achieving Texas residents from families with an annual income of $70,000 or less. It covers 100% of a first-time freshman’s tuition and fees for four years if they meet certain criteria.

“I love the perspective that I’ve gained at UTSA. I value being surrounded with like-minded students who were just as driven as me.”

In addition to the financial resources offered to her, Florez took advantage of the many career resources available at UTSA. During her first year, she applied for internships utilizing Handshake, UTSA’s job platform. She also credits the University Career Center, the Alvarez Student Success Center and the Najim Center for Innovation and Career Advancement with helping her prepare for the workforce.

“UTSA is the place to be with all the resources,” she said. “Everyone is welcoming, and they want to help you succeed. As big as UTSA is you still can receive one-on-one support.”

As a freshman, Florez participated in a virtual internship with Project Destined, an organization that provides students with training in real estate, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. The UTSA undergraduate took part in an eight-week program that focused on commercial real estate.

She then landed a coveted role as a commercial real estate analyst with JPMorgan Chase and Co. in Los Angeles during her first summer at UTSA.

“It was a really great experience, and it helped me gain perspective on the real estate industry,” she said.

She returned to Project Destined her sophomore year as a program manager, leading a team of interns.

“That experience really helped prepare me for my future positions,” Florez said. “I liked real estate, because I could go behind the scenes and see how things work.”

During her time at UTSA, Florez also joined the Najim Center’s Strategist Program, an experiential learning initiative that provides students with real world business experiences. Among the projects she worked on was a marketing campaign to bring awareness of the resources available at the Thrive Youth Center, a local nonprofit that serves the homeless LGBTQ+ community here. Florez also worked with Union Pacific, helping the company develop strategies to hire and retain younger talent. 

“I valued the opportunity to be able to give back to my community by working on these projects,” said Florez, adding that real estate is a profession that is full of opportunities.

“What makes real estate so unique is that it gives opportunities to so many different types of people and it connects people together,” she said.

Last summer, Florez completed an investment banking analyst internship with Wells Fargo in New York City. As part of the real estate securitization and capital markets team, Florez worked on two projects that included pitching an investment retail suite in Buda, Texas, and developing a 30-page Fixed Income Clearing Corp. (FICC) memo.

The FICC memo is a compliance document that must be completed before any securitization deal goes public. It helps investors better understand the risk of the pooled assets, Florez explains.

“What made this project even more important was the fact that my performance would determine whether I received a full-time offer,” she added.

In addition to her professional pursuits, Florez was active in several student organizations at UTSA. She was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, the UTSA Investment Society and the Professional Businesswoman Society. She also helped relaunch the university’s chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America.

Recognizing the need to build her professional network early on, Florez participated in two Alvarez immersion programs — first in San Francisco in 2022 and then in Washington, D.C. in 2023.

The ACOB’s domestic immersion program was created to allow students to experience a variety of business environments around the United States. Advancing the university’s classroom to career initiative, the program provides students with valuable experiential learning opportunities.

Florez also visited numerous real estate projects and participated in several professional roundtables as a member of the ACOB Embrey Real Estate Finance and Development Program.

The friends she made during her time at UTSA and the trips she took with them around the United States and to international areas such as Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and Jordan, helped Florez expand her global perspectives.

“One of the best things about UTSA is the relationships that I have developed,” she said.

Florez, who lived at home with her family all three years, said she always felt at home at UTSA.

“UTSA does a good job of including commuter students,” she said. “I had so many opportunities to connect with my peers as well as with leaders in the real estate industry, like Walter Embrey, who founded Embrey.”

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Capping off her senior year, Florez was named an inaugural member of the Alvarez Ambassadors, a group of student leaders who cultivate a sense of community within the college, promote resources to fellow students and engage with prospective students.

“I love the perspective that I’ve gained at UTSA,” she said. “I value being surrounded with like-minded students who were just as driven as me.”

Although she’ll leave soon for New York, Florez will always consider San Antonio home. 

“I hope people remember me not for the things that I’ve done, but how I’ve made people feel,” she said. “This community has established my identity, and I’ll never forget that.”

Wendy Frost

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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