From teenage mom to partner in an accounting firm, Stephanie Blanco ‘99 has a triumphant story to inspire everyone.
A rough start
A father severely injured and unable to provide for the family, a mother dealing with her own demons and pregnant at the age of 14, Blanco faced significant challenges in her life. When she was a teenager, her mother was struggling with addiction and left her to live unsupervised with her young cousin.
Blanco remembers the difficult time well, saying, “It was difficult to get my teachers to work with me because my situation was frowned upon. I didn’t return to high school because it was difficult without any support. Taking care of my daughter full time was what I needed to do.”
Blanco dropped out of school, moved in with her boyfriend and started working in order to take care of her child. She remembers when it hit her that she wanted to do something different.
“After some ups and downs, something clicked. I wanted to do better for my daughter,” said Blanco. “So I went back to school.”
Blanco returned to high school full time while working to provide for her family. She put in extra hours after school and during the summer months, making up all of her missed credits – putting in the hard work so that she could graduate on time with her class.
A year after finishing high school, Blanco began to think about the future. Her mother found sobriety, welcomed her back home and encouraged her to continue her education. That is when Blanco found her second home at Davenport University.
She originally wanted to be an administrative assistant until her Davenport advisor and professor saw her potential to succeed as an accounting major. At the time, Blanco was studying accounting but it was only offered as an associates program.
“The bachelor’s degree was established when my class was finishing, so I decided to go for it,” she said. With that mentality and the flexibility that Davenport offered, Blanco continued to thrive.
“I made strong connections with my advisor and professors, so I had opportunities for internships and tutoring to gain more experience. It was like a mutual agreement. I was helping them and they were helping me – I was always able to bring my daughter to campus with me.”
With her success-driven mindset and the supportive people surrounding her, Blanco had everything she needed to make her dreams come true.
In 1998, Blanco started part-time with John Kasperek Co., Inc. and transferred to full-time in 1999. This is her 20th year working with the company. Before gaining the title of partner, she worked in management for many years. With the company growing, they decided it was time Blanco took the official position.
In addition to being named a partner in the company, Blanco has also been re-elected as chair of the government report review committee in the Illinois CPA Society. It is rare for a woman to be elected as chair and she is proud to serve.
Advice to others
Blanco asks, “Why sit around and do nothing when you can either spend time with family, do something you love, create memories or make money?”
Her advice to current accounting students regarding taking the CPA exam?
“Do not wait. Instead, use the knowledge you have right out of school to pass the exam. Once you start your accounting career, you will focus on one aspect of accounting and lose knowledge on the other topics. So, do it now.”
Blanco thrives on being able to inspire others with her story and showing her children that although you may face troubles in your life, you can triumph over any of life’s obstacles.
If you’d like to connect with Blanco, send her an email at email@example.com.