Raul Aguilera Ramirez impresses. By the time he received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from UNO in 2018, he had already built businesses and served hundreds of people online with increased access to educational services. It’s no surprise, then, that Raul has had even greater adventures since leaving the UN, having recently been identified as a finalist in the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans competition.
Raul came to the UN from South Sioux City and quickly made an impression as a first-generation Mexican-American student who received the DREAMer scholarship. Raul’s commitment to access was evident in 2015, when he advocated for DREAMers to have access to driver’s licenses in the state of Nebraska. This legal recognition (granted as a result of the campaign Raul participated in) has improved the lives of many immigrants in our state to this day. He grabbed the opportunities given to him by the UN, graduated Magna cum Laude and also completed the University Honors Program program, placed first in the Maverick Business Plan Competition and was recognized as Clinton Global Initiative University Resolution Venture semi-finalist. Raul worked throughout his time at the University to enable others to have access to education: he co-founded an open source test preparation service, enabling more students to access the skills of SAT and ACT preparation. More recently, its site and service CSPrep.org connects competitive programmers as they share their technology skills and development globally. Raul’s startups have over a thousand users and democratize access to information in collaborative partnerships that foster educational development.
Others recognized Raul’s value as an idea creator and engaged citizen: he worked for ConAgra after graduating and now works for Deloitte as a senior consultant for internal audit in the area of technology and media. Her employer has already recognized her contributions with several outstanding performance awards and supports her decision to return to graduate school and continue her education. Raul hopes to get his MBA so he can pursue his own goals to help others increase their educational opportunities as well; with scheduled interviews with Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate Business School, and Chicago Booth School of Business, he aims to excel. He credits a personal mentor’s confidence in him and his encouragement for his efforts.
His runner-up position with the Soros underscores what the UN already knows: Raul is a doer. The Soros Scholarship specifically honors immigrants and children of immigrants, investing in their higher education in recognition of recipients as agents of change for the future of American society. Raul contacted the UN National Fellowships Office when he learned of his finalist status and reviewed application details and a mock interview with professors on campus (Dean John Bartle, Dr Shannon Cummins, Dr Matt Tracy and Dr. Dan Hawkins). Everyone was impressed by Raul’s professionalism and discretion. Professor Cummins said: ‘I knew Raul for his participation in an ABC Entrepreneurship Pitch competition where his team won first place. But it was amazing to see his growth since college. The UN experiences were a stepping stone for him – to a career at a Big 4 accounting firm, entrepreneurial ventures and becoming not just a well-rounded individual, but one who aspires to benefit the world around him. Raul represents the best of UNO – a first-generation student who pursues his passion, tries new things, and seeks opportunities to grow before and after graduation.
Raul will find out the status of his Soros scholarship application and his applications to different graduate schools next month. And we have a feeling we’ll be reading more stories about Raul and all the accomplishments to come in this young Maverick’s already impressive career.