Sunday, November 22, 2020

It all started with a stack of papers piled high on a desk in Colotlán, Mexico. Young Anibal Mares Márquez (BBA20) looked at his accountant mother Carmen’s tower of work and was impressed.

“It was empowering for my mom. I was proud she had that much work to do,” Mares Márquez remembers. It made him want to be an accountant too.

The next paper that was pivotal for Mares Márquez was a single sheet laying on his kitchen table. It was a letter inviting him to participate in the Tippie Gateway Program. But by then, the family dynamic had shifted. He had to read the letter to his mom—in English.

They had moved to northwest Iowa when he was 13. His father Humberto’s pig farm went under as a repercussion of the financial crisis of 2008, so when the opportunity arose to move to Rock Valley and work on a milk farm, he took it.

Most of the family came three years later, his mom leaving her stack of papers and eldest son, Leonardo, behind to work at a bacon factory. Leonardo had just graduated high school and wasn’t considered a minor, which matters in the eyes of U.S. immigration.

“The first four or five years were hard on everyone. Especially since my brother wasn’t with us,” Mares Márquez said.

While they all started out speaking very little English, Anibal had the advantage of studying the language at the local public school. When administrators placed him in sixth grade because of his low English proficiency, it kicked his work ethic into high gear. With a lot of hard work and the help of Janice Luevano, his ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, he skipped from sixth to eighth grade, proving for the first—but not last— time that he shouldn’t be underestimated.

By the time the Tippie Gateway Program invite arrived in the mail, English was a snap. He read the letter to his mom, but had never heard of the University of Iowa and told her it “wasn’t for him.” His high school counselors were pushing community college
as the only option, and no one had told him otherwise. But his mom insisted he apply. It proved to be a decisive moment in his life.

“My mom always wanted me to do everything, to take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself,” Mares Márquez said.

The Tippie Gateway Program hosts high school juniors from groups underrepresented in business for a week of college immersion at no cost to the student. Underrepresented groups in business include racial minorities, low-income, and/or first-generation
college students.

“The Tippie Gateway Program has several layers of goals and recruiting students to attend the University of Iowa is one of them,” program coordinator Mark Archibald said. “But bigger picture, the goal is to introduce a diverse group of students to the study of business who might otherwise not have been exposed to it—regardless of whether or not they end up at the UI. The program shows these students what studying business in college is really like, and the career paths it can lead to. We hope this early exposure means more students from every race and background study business, go into business, and hopefully, end up in the C-suite.”

Mares Márquez was accepted and took part in Tippie Gateway 2015, the inaugural year of the program. Mares Márquez and his fellow Tippie Gateway cohorts, whom he is still close with, were the first program participants to graduate from the
Tippie College of Business in May 2020.

Mares Márquez’s experience in the Tippie Gateway Program was nothing short of eye-opening. He was encouraged to set his sights higher, to consider the full range of possibilities in higher education. He also saw people like him in the program, heard about financial aid opportunities, and thus realized he could actually have a place in the Hawkeye family.

“The Tippie Gateway Program residents and mentors were of diverse backgrounds. They gave unfiltered perspectives and explained everything. It was through their experiences that I could see myself doing it,” Mares Márquez said. “Mark Archibald explained that if we came here, we would have the opportunity to grow and that this was a community we were building.”

When he got home, he applied to a number of schools, including three Ivy League universities, but eventually decided to come to the Tippie College of Business as a direct admit because of his positive experience with the Tippie Gateway Program.

The initial donors for the Tippie Gateway Program were Stephen Belyn (BBA91) and his wife Pamela, but the program has grown with additional sponsors, including significant support from Wells Fargo and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC),
which has a company-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

PwC is one of the forward-thinking companies that understands the strength of a diverse workforce and looks to universities like the University of Iowa as a pipeline for great candidates.

Which brings us back to Mares Márquez. After participating in the program, he became a Tippie Gateway Program mentor for several years in college, wanting to empower more students like him to join the Tippie family. After meeting and impressing PwC  representatives through the program as a mentor, he secured an internship with the company.

“People like Anibal really show the value of our investment in the Tippie Gateway,” PwC Campus Recruiting Manager Rachel Gordon said.

Like many young, ambitious Tippie students, Mares Márquez maintained his PwC contacts because of his end goal: he wanted to work for them postgraduation. Mostly because they sponsored the Tippie Gateway Program.

“PwC representatives were very present throughout the week and made time to speak with students,” he said. “I had a great feeling about their company after seeing them sponsor and participate in a program like this. My internship confirmed it.”

In September all of Mares Márquez’s hard work paid off. He started as an associate in risk assurance for PwC in Minneapolis, ready to tackle his own stack of papers.


This article first appeared in the 2020 issue of Iowa Ledger