CPE Alumni Spotlight with Miguel Portillo

Miguel Portillo grew up in Columbia Heights, Washington, DC. He joined CPE’s program in 2013 because he believed in CPE’s mission of providing mentorship to low-income high school students from the D.C. – area. He knew he wanted to go to college in order to excel in the workforce and change the trajectory of his family’s history in this country. Learn more about Miguel below.

What’s one memorable moment you have of you and your mentor?

Going to the gym together! A lot of people tend to forget the importance of balancing work life with their social life. In order to prepare for any important activity or event, such as an exam or even a soccer match, it is important to prepare oneself mentally and physically. One must be in the right state of mind and be ready physically as well. One weekend before an important week of exams and presentations, my mentor and I went to the gym to lift weights. This helped me relax and maintain focus for the following week.

How did your mentor help you with the college application process?

My mentor was there to answer any college application questions I had and reviewed my resume during my application process. The true value of the CPE mentorship program is the acknowledgement that mentoring and being mentored is a two-way street. CPE provides the connections and events needed for mentoring to take place. Throughout this process, I’ve come to learn the best form of mentoring comes from engagement between both partners learning from each other. Having a mentor who had gone through college applications, interviews, and real issues helped prepare me in advance to set my expectations high.

What college did you go to and what career path did you choose?

I graduated from Sewanee: University of the South in May of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science and a minor in business. During my time as an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity of being exposed to computer programming and the financial services industry through various programs that allowed me to explore numerous career paths. I developed programming skills and the ability to be able to write code and give computers instructions on what they should do next.

At the same time, I began to have a real passion for the markets. I became interested in learning how investment banks and other companies within the financial services industry generated capital for a diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments, and individuals. The world has come to depend on a rapid rate of technological evolution, opening doors for computer science majors to be in high demand. Sewanee’s computer science department, along with the business courses I took, allowed me to build expertise in these areas.

After interviewing with many prestigious firms, Deloitte stood out to me the most. I work there as a Cyber Risk Consultant for civil government clients.

In what ways has CPE impacted your life?

CPE has impacted my life by providing me with a mentor who could share their college application process with me. Given both of my parents did not have the opportunity to attend college, I did not have someone who could share their college experience with me. CPE provided me with this guidance.

What do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I enjoy traveling to new cities, exploring different cultures, and spending time with family and friends.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is “Always forward, keep going.” This comes from the Spanish slang “Pa’lante” meaning “onward” or “go for it.” It’s a common phrase used in my family to show perseverance and to never stop.