Experiences Offer Real-World Preparation for Career, Life
As many college students anxiously anticipated a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, Frank Quezada had a bit more on his mind in November.
He was saving money to feed as many as 10 Meadville families for the holiday.
“I come from a low-income background. I know what it’s like to struggle,” says the southern California native who is majoring in physics with a minor in economics. “When my family received food during our low point, it was so important for me to see that others – many of whom we didn’t even know – cared. I hope the children of these families saw how important it is and will pay it forward someday, too.”
Quezada says he always has had a passion for giving back, and that the College has nurtured that interest through the Civic Engagement Office, part of the Allegheny Gateway. In addition to giving back financially, Quezada has donated his time while tutoring students during an after-school program and mentoring adults through the Crawford County READ Program.
“I mentored a Meadville resident who was studying for his GED tests,” he says. “He needed help with math, so we built a syllabus for the semester. It was great because I could immediately see the results. It was amazing to watch how this was going to change his life.”
“I want to get to the point where I am financially secure enough to give back to students who need it most. I’d also like to eventually become an Allegheny trustee. I want to make as much of an impact as Rob Smith and Professor and Trustee Chris Allison ’83 made on me.”
Quezada not only tries to make a difference in the Meadville community; he also gives back on campus. As an example, he worked with Jim Fitch in the Career Education Office, part of the Allegheny Gateway, to create Career NaviGator this year. The program is an on-campus club that helps students find their passion and transition it into a career.
“I didn’t have a lot of career guidance at home, so I struggled at first,” he says. “But when I found Career Education, they offered the guidance I needed. I know there are students who need that help, so I created this club. The goal is to reach students who are looking for internships or post-graduation jobs.”
In his role as club president, Quezada assists students with résumés, cover letters, thank-you notes, networking, job searching, and more. He also helped to develop a month-to-month progress chart based on a student’s class year. The guide ensures that students remain on track as they enter their senior year.
“It’s great to help my peers in this way,” Quezada says. “Many of them tell me that without Career NaviGator, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish their goals.”
Because of his early involvement with Career Education, Quezada secured a freshman-year internship with Acutec Precision Machining, a local aerospace and power generation manufacturing firm founded by Rob Smith ’73, chair of the Allegheny College Board of Trustees. Quezada worked in the Quality Assurance Department, where he learned about computer-aided design software and how to read blueprints.
“When I came to Allegheny I thought I wanted to pursue engineering, which is why my internship was in quality assurance,” he says. “But the unexpected happened – I learned that engineering wasn’t my true passion. I am incredibly grateful that I had this experience so early in my college career so I could start exploring other options.”
Quezada did just that – taking more classes at Allegheny, speaking to professors, working with Career Education, and immersing himself in professional development books. That’s when he discovered a new interest: investment banking.
“I found that I really enjoy numbers,” he says. “And now I’m lucky enough to be enhancing those skills through a second internship at Acutec – this time in the Finance Department. Now that I am doing data analytics there, I feel I’ve found my niche.”
Even though Quezada has devoted a great deal of time to his studies, Career NaviGator, and his internships, he still found time in summer 2015 to conduct undergraduate research with Physics Professor Doros Petasis. Through this experience, Quezada helped to build a cooling system for Helmholtz Coils and a cavity for a device called an electron paramagnetic resonance machine. The cavity is currently being used at Carnegie Mellon University.
Now in his senior year, Quezada is applying for positions at investment banks and financial firms in hopes of kick-starting his career. He says he is grateful to the College – and the Allegheny Gateway – for giving him so many opportunities to discover his passions.
“I can only think about how different my life would be if I didn’t come to Allegheny; I’ve grown so much,” he says. “Allegheny lets you be who you are.
“During the past three years, I’ve learned that Allegheny doesn’t just prepare you for a job,” he adds. “It prepares you for life.”