When Alondra Gallardo ’20, ’21 was looking to transfer from the two-year program at Fullerton College to complete her bachelor’s degree, her main priority was affordability.
After learning about the Fullerton-Redlands Bachelor Degree Program, an agreement that streamlines the transfer of Fullerton students to the University of Redlands School of Business and provides classes on the Fullerton campus, she applied and was accepted before she began to hear back from other institutions. Now, as a Redlands MBA student, she’s taking advantage of a tuition discount available for U of R alumni.
Originally from Lake Forest, California, and now residing in San Diego, Gallardo admits that her journey to graduate school was a long one. Even though she always knew she ultimately wanted a doctoral degree, as a first-generation college student she often had to navigate the uncharted waters of academia alone.
At the University of Redlands, however, she received constant support, which motivated her and helped her to succeed. “At Redlands, every step of the way—from financial aid to applying to graduating—people were calling me and checking in to make sure I understood the information,” she says.
Gallardo notes there were many benefits of moving into the Redlands Bachelor of Science in Business program on-site at Fullerton College. Already familiar with the Fullerton College campus, she knew where her classrooms were and where she could get something to eat or request transcripts. She was also able to build on the relationships she had already formed with some of her classmates while making new connections.
In her MBA courses, professors and students integrate work experience into lectures and discussions, making for conversations that include diverse perspectives. Gallardo says that she’s appreciative of professors who have had to quickly transition from teaching at one of U of R’s regional campuses across California to teaching online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding new, innovative ways to engage with students.
As a graduate student, she’s learning more about herself, both personally and professionally. “I learned that I’m much more capable than I originally thought,” she says. “As a woman of color, I’ve definitely grown and feel more prepared and in tune with myself. I feel empowered, which is especially important to me as I work in a male-dominated field.”
Additionally, after working in marketing and realizing she was good with numbers, Gallardo began to explore the field of finance and designated it as her MBA concentration. Now, she’s researching doctoral programs and has her sights set on becoming a chief financial officer for a Fortune 500 company.
As she makes her way up the academic and corporate ladders, Gallardo is committed to making sure she brings other people with her—especially women and people of color. “It was my parents’ dream to see me go to college,” she says, “As a Muslim and a Latina, my ultimate goal is to go back to my hometown with a doctoral degree and encourage other little brown girls to pursue their own education.”
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