'Your Accent is an Asset': Latina Business Owners Encourage Next Generation of Entrepreneurs at Berkeley College

Contact: Ilene Greenfield
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Women’s Entrepreneurship Week 2016 



Women's Entrepreneurship Berkeley


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The future is bright for Latina business owners, according to a panel of Latina entrepreneurs who visited Berkeley College on October 20, 2016, during Women’s Entrepreneurship Week. The panelists, who have made names for themselves in law, publishing, education and management, spoke to a group of 75 Berkeley College students in Woodland Park, NJ. 

Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College who opened the event, encouraged the students in the audience to apply the entrepreneurial advice to their own lives. 

“I want you to look at yourselves and say ‘I can be who they are.’ ‘I can have their skills. Their abilities,’ ” said Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College. “If they are here and they achieved it, you can certainly achieve it.” 

Berkeley Women“Women have the blessing of being the first,” said Moderator Maria Teresa Montilla, PhD, President of the Institute for Latino Studies and the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey. “That means you have the opportunity to make the road. To decide. To determine. To design. You are an entrepreneur of social change.” 

According to Dr. Montilla, there are more than 790,000 Latino-owned businesses in the United States, generating $55 billion in revenue. 

Photo Caption B: “Women have the blessing of being the first,” said Moderator Maria Teresa Montilla, PhD, President of the Institute for Latino Studies and the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.

“Entrepreneurship is not a job. It’s not a career. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle,” said Sylvia Jáuregui, Publisher of Jersey Bound Latino Magazine

Students in the audience, who were studying not only business but healthcare, interior design and other fields, asked how entrepreneurial advice can be applied in their various areas of study. 

Ms. Jáuregui said the keys to success in entrepreneurship are finding a passion, finding a niche, being brave, and having a good support team. And, she added, believing in yourself, which can be applied in any field. 

“Women, when you want something in life, you have to be strong,” she said. “The first person who can stop you from doing something great is yourself.” 

She spoke of her struggles immigrating from Ecuador and the years she spent working as a waitress to support her son while striving to become a U.S. citizen and get an education. 

“Make short-term plans that will get you to where you want to be long-term,” she told the students. 

Violeta Ruggles, CEO/Strategic Partner of Ruggles & Ruggles, LLC, a management consulting firm, also spoke of the challenges coming to the United States against her family’s wishes and facing a language barrier. 

With the support of her husband and daughter, she obtained a college degree, with honors, at the age of 59. 

“They didn’t let me stop,” she said of her support system. “You make a plan one day at a time and you keep going.” 

Patricia Bombelyn, Esq., Partner, Perez & Bombelyn, spoke of the importance of having passion for your work. 

“It is critical that if you have a passion, you pursue it,” she said. “It will enable you to live a happy life. If I didn’t go to law school, I would have always wondered what would have happened if I had followed my dream.” 

Ms. Bombelyn told the Latinos in the audience that “your accent is an asset.” She said that in addition to the benefits of being bilingual, lawyers with accents are better able to hold the attention of juries. 

Berkeley College was one of the colleges recognized for its efforts this month, as Governor Chris Christie signed a proclamation recognizing Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in New Jersey. 

Read More: Click here to read about “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in a Global Economy,” a special event held at Berkeley College in Midtown Manhattan in recognition of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week. 

 Berkeley Women

Photo Caption C (L to R): Violeta Ruggles, CEO/Strategic Partner of Ruggles & Ruggles, LLC; Maria Teresa Montilla, PhD, President of the Institute for Latino Studies and the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey; Angela Harrington, Berkeley College Assistant Vice President, Communications and External Relations; Sylvia Jáuregui, Publisher, Jersey Bound Latino Magazine; Linda Pinsky-Mauro, Campus Operating Officer, Berkeley College in Woodland Park; and Patricia Bombelyn, Esq., Partner, Perez & Bombelyn, pose after the “Latina Women Breaking Ground in Entrepreneurship” panel at Berkeley College. 

Photo Caption A (Top, L to R): Dr. Montilla, Ms. Jáuregui, Ms. Ruggles and Ms. Bombelyn take questions from the audience of Berkeley College students.

About Berkeley College

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls approximately 8,300 students – including more than 700 international students – in its Baccalaureate and Associate degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies, and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers a Master of Business Administration degree in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ. 

Berkeley College has five New Jersey campuses – Dover, Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. In New York there are three campuses – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, both for the third consecutive year. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu

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