Making every experience a learning opportunity

Career By Sarah Johnson Oct 3, 2018

Author: Oliver Martinez-Reyes, Western Union Scholar and former paid Intern

A year ago, I was excited and looking ahead to my first year at the University of Denver – and hoping that I would be selected as a scholarship recipient of the WU Scholars program. Looking back, the year exceeded my expectations. I hope that sharing my experiences will encourage other students in Denver, and around the world, to pursue a college education in a subject that they’re most passionate about.

WU Scholars is Western Union Foundation’s global scholarship program focused on supporting students around the world who are pursuing a post-secondary education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), business and entrepreneurship. Students are recognized for demonstrating academic excellence, as well as perseverance, aspiration, and community-mindedness.

As a first-generation college student, I was honored and truly fortunate to be one of 174 recipients last year to receive a US$2,500 scholarship. Then, during a ceremony in Denver last October, I was surprised by Western Union additional US$10,000 total contribution towards my entire four year’s tuition at DU! The company’s scholarship allows me to continue my studies as a double major in accounting and finance.

My goal is to eventually own my own business or work in the industries of accounting/finance/real estate. Like any young person looking ahead to a successful career, I’ve been eager to learn as much as possible about the knowledge, skills, and experience it will take to reach my goal. Having established a relationship with the Western Union Foundation, I stayed connected and found out about an internship with the company’s finance and operations team in the internal audit department. After several months of interviews and preparation, I started my internship at the beginning of June.

This summer, my role has been to assist in the company’s thorough review of processes and controls to confirm that Western Union adheres to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act standards. The work has been interesting and challenging, allowing me to apply the skills I’m learning in my classes. Beyond my responsibilities, the internship has offered a great opportunity to interact directly with business professionals, asking for their guidance and advice and understanding the day-to-day experiences of a major corporation. For me, every experience is an invaluable asset and helps me build new skills.

As a migrant from Mexico, whose second language is English, I grew up appreciating the commitment of my parents to my education. They continue to encourage and keep me focused on obtaining my bachelor’s degree so that I can reach my professional goals. As I take this moment to reflect, I see that my parents taught me the characteristics of a WU scholar – perseverance, aspiration, and community-mindedness – and I believe they are helping to pave the way for my future success.

The Western Union Foundation is an independently managed 501(c)(3), United States non-profit corporation. To learn more about the Western Union Foundation WU Scholars Program visit