Berkeley Today Stories

Cecilia Perez Berkeley College alumnus.

Alumnus of the Year Balances Distance Learning with Investment Banking Career



Cecilia Perez has spent the past 23 years professionally evolving at investment bank Goldman Sachs, where she is currently a Vice President within the Legal Department in Manhattan. She credits the knowledge she obtained while attending Berkeley College for helping her advance in the investment banking world.

Ms. Perez earned an A.A.S. degree from Berkeley College’s Professional Secretarial program in 1985 while taking courses in Midtown Manhattan. After earning her paralegal certification from New York University, she began working at a law firm before joining the legal department of Goldman Sachs.

“One of the biggest challenges I face is prioritizing, as everyone needs everything yesterday,” Ms. Perez said. “Berkeley College taught me that the key to these situations are communication, having the confidence to speak with different people you work with, and to get additional clarification on what the priorities are.”

While still working in the legal department at Goldman Sachs, Ms. Perez is taking classes through Berkeley College Online®, and will earn a B.B.A. degree in Business Administration – Management in December 2016. The final motivation to go back to school came shortly after receiving the New York Alumna of the Year Award from Berkeley College in 2012.

“I knew that at some point I wanted to go back to school, but as they say, life got in the way,” said Ms. Perez, who was balancing a career in investment management while raising two children. “After my kids got older, I realized it was time for me to go back to school. Online classes were the only way that I could accomplish this, as my work hours are long and unpredictable. I found the best way to balance school, work and a full-time job is organization.”

Up Close with Cecilia Perez

What does success mean to you?
Success is being in a role where you continue to feel challenged and you’re learning new things.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?
I knew that Berkeley would not only prepare me with a strong academic program, but also teach me the skills to act like a professional in the workplace.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?
Berkeley offered me the skills needed to enter the workforce and the education to continue building my career.

In which way(s) do you see yourself being successful in the future?
Success has many different definitions. I have been very lucky to have a good career at my current firm. I owe that to wonderful managers who inspired me and gave me a chance, to being motivated, and having a good family support system. I am not sure what the future holds, but I am working now on earning a Bachelor’s degree as something I knew I wanted to accomplish in my life, although I never thought it would be so late in life.

What advice would you offer today’s college-bound students?
Take risks early in your career, and go out of your comfort zone to push yourself to new challenges.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?
My most memorable moments are all the wonderful friendships I made, some of which I still have today.