Celebrating Our Graduates; Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Clemson was not this first-generation college student’s first choice. Now, accounting degree in hand, she can’t imagine a better experience


Before she ever accepted a spot in any college, Aracely Quintero thought she had her course plotted out. The Greenville native knew she wanted to get farther away from the South Carolina Upstate. She also had a major chosen and would pick her school based on reputation in that course of study. But, as a first-generation college student among her extended family, what remained unknown was the kind of financial aid package each school she was accepted to might offer.

“I had no intention of coming to Clemson, but the aid package was the best of anywhere else I got in,” Aracely says. “I had never taken a tour — never even seen the campus — but it was a no-brainer.

“And I can’t imagine making any other choice.”

While financial considerations are what finally got her to Clemson, it was Orientation, hospitality and a random meeting on an elevator in her first-year residence hall that made a single decision into one of the best of her life.

Once she arrived, Aracely found that talk of the Clemson Family was genuine. From day one, staff, students and faculty went above anything she expected, whether it was directions to a class, a friendly face to grab a bite with or some encouragement before a particularly challenging exam. And though she admits to having little self-confidence prior to attending Clemson, things changed pretty quickly after meeting her best friend.

“Meeting her that first year is a core memory of my time at Clemson. It was so random and in an elevator. Just like out of a movie!” Aracely says. “I’m so grateful to have been surrounded by people who believed in me.”

A pull quote graphic that shows Aracely Quintero next to a quote that reads, "I am so grateful to have been surrounded by people who believe in me."

Her best friend, her colleagues in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business Recruitment Ambassadors, her mentors in class and across campus. These are just some of the people who believed in her. The people who made her the person she is today.

That person is one ready to use her new accounting degree and find her way in the world. For Aracely, Clemson showed her that she can create her own path and the decisions she makes don’t always have obvious outcomes. Each experience, from her internship at major accounting firm EY in Washington, D.C., to helping her mother’s small business, has prepared her for true exploration. She plans to find that full-time job in the coming months and work just as hard there as she has these last four years at Clemson.

“Going to college and gaining my confidence has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “But it’s also been the best.”

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