11 Women Awarded FWSF Scholarships in 2017

Scholarships awarded by the FWSF are made possible through the generosity of FWSF sponsors and the proceeds from the Financial Woman of the Year Luncheon. To date over $2 million in scholarship funds has been awarded to deserving students.

Click on the student's name to read her bio.

Undergraduate Scholarship Recipients

Jessica Ceja

California State University, East Bay

Jessica is an undergraduate in Finance & Accounting at California State University, East Bay. On campus, she is the Finance Director for Beta Alpha Psi, Vice President of the Real Estate Club, Organizing Executive Officer for Startup East Bay, and Supplemental Instruction Leader for Financial Management. Off campus, Jessica volunteers her time to help underserved local residents achieve financial success by listening to their concerns and offering free financial advice. She enjoys teaching math to youth from low-income families through organizations like Project Access and Hayward Promise Neighborhood. Upon graduation, Jessica aspires to become a successful financial analyst while continuing to devote her free time to teaching children and helping low-income individuals achieve and maintain financial empowerment.

Sehar Mansoor

University of San Francisco

Sehar is an undergraduate at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Accounting. She transferred to USF from a community college. After working in various jobs related to accounting, she decided to pursue higher education in order to advance her career. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she plans to become a CPA and pursue an MBA. Sehar moved to the U.S. from India at the age of 16. Upon moving, she and her sister became the primary breadwinners for their family. Since earning a living became a necessity, education took a backseat for Sehar. However, she never forgot the value of education; after being out of school for 11 years, she is now earning a college degree.

Rani Shree Mavram

University of California, Berkeley

Rani is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, double majoring in Computer Science and Business Administration. Growing up in the Bay Area, Rani cherished the entrepreneurial mindset. At an early age, she developed a passion for business and education; she turned that passion into her first independent venture, Maarifa International, a nonprofit organization that develops curriculum and assessment technologies for students internationally. At UC Berkeley, Rani can often be found at Haas, as she is an active Associate of the Haas Business Student Association. Additionally, she currently serves as the Startup Project Manager at the Berkeley Business Society, leading projects at Google and Slack. Rani plans to combine her passion for computer science with business by leading the next wave of financial technology.

Dhyani S. Parekh

San Jose State University

Born in India and raised in northern California, Dhyani became captivated by the fast-paced finance industry in Silicon Valley. While pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Accounting Information Systems at San Jose State University, Dhyani drew inspiration from working in her family's business, and from her internships with NASA, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Alameda County District Attorney's office, and Burr Pilger & Mayer LLP. Her focus on IT auditing, assurance, risk advisory, and data analytics make her optimistic about finding opportunity in Silicon Valley. Dhyani volunteers her time as a camp counselor and at local NGOs, including BAPS. She earned an internship at RSM and looks forward to advocating for diversity and equality in the work force.

Graduate Scholarship Recipients

Meizhu Deng

San Jose State University

Born and raised in China, Meizhu attended Sun Yat-Sen University, where she pursued Bachelor of Economics and Master of Finance degrees. After graduation, Meizhu joined Citibank as a treasury sales manager; more recently she served at HSBC as cash product manager. She will attend San Jose State University starting in fall 2017, and is developing her career in accounting. She aspires to become a partner in a public accounting firm. Meizhu is passionate about education. She volunteered to teach high school courses to disadvantaged students in China, and initiated a financial aid program to assist 118 students with tuition costs. As an active IRS tax law-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistant, Meizhu helps low-income families preparing tax returns in her Bay Area community.

Laurel Engbretson

Mills College

Laurel was born in San Francisco and raised in Mill Valley, California. She was a Regent’s Scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in three years. Prior to pursuing an MBA/MPP at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College, Laurel sold luxury real estate with Pacific Union. She is currently a Corporate Responsibility Intern with JPMorgan Chase’s Global Philanthropy. Before joining JPMorgan Chase, she was the Equity and Strategic Partnerships Intern for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Laurel serves on the Board of Directors of HomeownershipSF, and the Net Impact chapter at Mills College, which is part of a national organization that facilitates volunteer projects. She is a mentor with The Oakland Promise, and volunteers with Girls Inc. of Alameda County and Black Girls Code.

Quyen Le

Golden Gate University

Quyen Le was born and raised in Vietnam. She received her Bachelor's degree in Banking and Finance from Ho Chi Minh City Open University. Currently, she is pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Finance at Golden Gate University. She has deep empathy for poor and homeless women and children, which motivates her work in finance. After her graduation from Golden Gate University, her ambition is to be a financial analyst. She seeks to expand her family business and start her own nonprofit organization for women in Vietnam. From a leadership perspective, she wants to be known for being a productive collaborator and analytical integrator—someone who can deliver outstanding outcomes.

Hanna Leen

California State University, East Bay

Hanna Leen was born in Wolf Point, Montana. At Willamette University, she received her bachelor’s degree in Politics and was recognized as a Scholar-Athlete and Most Valuable Player on the Swim Team. After graduation, Hanna worked with homeless students as an AmeriCorps member. She then developed a family shelter program that has proudly graduated over 85% of its participants into housing. Hanna has served on the Board of Directors for Northwest Coastal Housing, a nonprofit creating affordable housing, and Second Home, a nonprofit providing housing for homeless youth. She is pursuing an MBA at California State University, East Bay. Hanna is passionate about providing opportunities and inspiring hope. Her goal is to be a CEO of a nonprofit microfinance organization that empowers women.

Akshata Pandit

University of San Francisco

Born and raised in Mumbai in a middle-class household, education was of utmost importance as a path to Akshata’s self-reliance. She did her undergraduate studies in Accounts and Law and graduate studies in Management (Finance) at Mumbai University. She is currently pursuing an MBA from the University of San Francisco, where she is a recipient of the International Merit India Scholarship. She serves as Vice President of Finance in the Graduate Business Association, where she facilitates and manages school funds. She has approximately seven years’ work experience in financial and legal consultancy. In India, she co-founded a startup to advise small- and medium-size companies in restructuring their debt. She sold her startup to one of the richest groups in India.

Samantha Smith-Eppsteiner

Stanford University

Sam is a venture capital investor at Innovation Endeavors, where she works with early-stage technology companies. Sam was previously employed as a management consultant for Bain & Company in San Francisco, where she worked for clients in the private equity, retail, and food sectors. She serves on the board of the nonprofit Afghan Friends Network, served as Office Head for a nonprofit consulting group, Inspire, while at Bain, and externed with social enterprise Kigali Farms in Rwanda. She was born and raised in San Diego and received a BA in Political Science from Stanford University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Sam will attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business starting in fall 2017.

Carissa Weir

Mills College

Born in Jamaica, Carissa spent some of her childhood in England, and her teenage years in the U.S. Currently, she is pursuing an MBA in Finance at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College. Carissa is an environmental technician for a consulting firm, and has served as a volunteer and board member at YEAH! Berkeley. Post-MBA, she is looking forward to a stimulating career in finance, as well as the materialization of business ventures to benefit her family in Jamaica. She is a film fanatic and a foodie who dreams of travelling the world.


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