At The Top of Her Class

 Name: Paulina Canizales

Country: Mexico

Major: Finance

Languages: Spanish, English, French


The San Diego Chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI) granted the 2015 Outstanding Student Award to School of Business Administration senior Paulina Canizales ’15 BA in April.

This award is given to the top 85bd8cb49c4db1306c1cc179e6a9d3ccfinance student at each university including the University of San Diego, San Diego State University and California State University San Marcos.

Graduating summa cum laude, Canizales is the top graduating finance major, and she is also receiving departmental honors in finance, which is given to all students who have a 3.5 GPA or higher.

“I attribute much of my success to my parents who instilled the values of responsibility, discipline and hard work in me.” she says.

Getting to the top of her class wasn’t easy.

“I came to the U.S. from Mexico on a student visa,” she says. “It was a tough transition. The education system is completely different. The Mexican education system focuses on memorization while the U.S. system leans toward analysis and critical thinking.”

Born near the Arizona border in Hermosillo, Sonora, English was a second language.

“Since kindergarten, I have been studying English. However, speaking and reading English on a daily basis and maintaining a 4.0 GPA was intense,” Canizales says.

During her four years in the School of Business Administration, she perfected the language and is now fluent in English. She studied abroad in Madrid and Nice and is now fluent in French too. Fluency in Spanish, English and French combined with her experiences abroad have opened her eyes to varying business styles across many cultures. USD’s International Student Organization (ISO) made her transition to USD easier and she wanted to give back. In fall 2013, she was the ISO President and managed the organizations finances.

After getting a taste for the finance world, she sought out an unpaid internship with BANORTE Bank in Hermosillo, Sonora. There, she broadened her experiences working in investment banking, human resources, mortgages and her favorite department, currency exchange transactions. This internship and her global experiences gave her direction and the confidence to secure a job. After graduation, Canizales will work in Guadalajara, Jalisco, assisting the CEO of Fintegra, a financial services firm.

“The education I received at SBA refined my critical thinking abilities and gave me the technical skills and know how regarding financial operations,’ she says. “The best class I took in SBA was Professor Conroy’s Macroeconomics class. It taught me real-life concepts that I have been able to apply on a day-to-day basis.”

She will take this knowledge back to Mexico and hopes to focus on the needs of her country. Through her position with Fintegra, she wants to be a part of making sure the money of Mexican taxpayers is well spent by assisting state and local governments in efficiently financing community projects. She also hopes to continue her education and obtain her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential and a MBA in finance.

— Victoria Johnson ’04 BA (Communications Studies)

One thought on “At The Top of Her Class

  1. Olga

    Paulina you are a lovely, brilliant lady who will accomplish anything you set your mind on. Wish you the BEST as always!
    With your mind, faith, principles , family and friends you will always achieve excellence!! Love


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