Young Alumna Gives Others a Boost

November 16, 2017
Magdalena Rocha Ocampo ’14 (center) celebrates with her family at the 2017 UWM Alumni Awards Night.

Magdalena Rocha Ocampo ’14 was just 12 years old when she came to the U.S. from Mexico. Today, she is described as a “superstar” at Cornerstone Macro, the Wall Street investment firm where she works.

Magdalena’s parents were determined to give their children a better life, so in 2003, her mother took a job as a bilingual school teacher in Milwaukee, bringing Magdalena and her brother along while their father remained in Mexico. “Going to college was part of their dream for us,” Magdalena recalls. “I knew I couldn’t waste my education.”

She chose to attend UWM, and instead of getting an apartment with friends, she lived at home, where her mother continued to have an influence, even grounding her on occasion. At first, Magdalena floundered in college, unsure of what she wanted to do.

As a student, she worked part time waitressing and helping the restaurant’s bookkeeper manage the records. Soon, she thought accounting might be the right major for her, so she enrolled in accounting classes and, later, finance courses.

She also met G. Kevin Spellman, the David O. Nicholas Director Investment Management, who became a mentor and friend. “A quick question would turn into an hour discussion about life,” she says. Magdalena joined the Investment Management Certificate Program, which paved the way for her career in finance.

When she received two scholarships, from Northwestern Mutual and Baird, she says it changed her life. “Of course the scholarships helped me financially, but even more importantly, they meant that someone else believed in me. That was a critical boost.”

Now Magdalena is giving others that same boost by funding her own scholarship for Lubar School of Business students. “I want to encourage other students to pursue their dreams and excel in their careers,” she says.

In October 2017, Magdalena returned to Milwaukee to receive the UWM Alumni Association’s 2017 Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award. Attending the event with her were her brother, who now works at Georgetown University; her mother, who is pursuing her PhD in mathematics education at UWM’s School of Education; and her father, who flew in from Mexico for the occasion. “That was such a happy night for our family,” adds Magdalena. “The dreams my parents had for us have come true.”