It is Veronica Flaspoehler’s job to find the gaps. As financial crimes manager and money laundering reporting officer for Wells Fargo’s Latin America/Caribbean entities, she works to understand the local financial crime laws and implement programs to keep the company in compliance.
“My brain is wired to identify gaps. This informs how I serve our students. I can say that, as a first-generation college student coming from a small town, there were gaps in what I knew was available to me or what I was capable of,” says Veronica, who graduated with degrees in public policy and economics in 2008.
Veronica was born in Costa Rica and grew up in Lincolnton, North Carolina, a small town near Charlotte. As a rising senior, she attended UNC Project Uplift, a program that offers high-achieving students from historically underserved populations an intimate and unique opportunity to experience Carolina up close. When she enrolled at Carolina, it felt big. But she soon found her confidence and thrived, serving in student government positions, working part-time jobs and studying in Beijing as part of the entrepreneurship minor.
Though, by all measures, hers was a successful student experience, culminating in job offers long before graduation, “I realized I was very lucky,” she says. “There are students that, for many reasons, like where they grew up or if their parents went to college, aren’t aware of everything Carolina can offer. We have to be proactive about minimizing those gaps for them so they can have the experiences that correlate to a successful future.”
Veronica’s mission as an engaged alumna has been to lend a hand to those who need it and get them the access all students deserve. She has devoted herself to groups that help others make meaningful connections like the Young Alumni Leadership Council, Diversity Strategy Campaign Committee and the UNC Board of Visitors. Leading the Career Services Committee for the Board of Visitors allows her to reach students who require additional guidance when entering the professional world.
“I remember the first time I went to a recruiting dinner, and I didn’t know what to expect or what to talk about. You need a safe environment to learn those kinds of things, like how early jobs will fill up your senior year and how proactive you should be.”
Providing a campus community for women of color and women who identify as members of underrepresented racial and ethnic populations offers something to students that she had needed herself – a room of women whose lives looked like hers. She speaks passionately about Womxn of Worth, a program dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of women and girls of color through research and practice.
“To be part of creating space for women of color to be who they are and share their struggles is so meaningful to me. I didn’t have that. You need a place where others relate to your challenges and where you can be yourself.”
She and her husband Jonathan, also from the Class of 2008, point their charitable giving toward projects that give students the momentum they need to grow and advance, such as the Carolina Covenant, Carolina Latinx Center, Chancellor’s Global Education Fund, Eve Carson Junior-Year Merit Scholarship, Project Uplift and more. But she wants young alumni to know that it’s never too early to get involved and share the gifts you have now.
“It’s hard for young alumni to feel connected when they can’t financially give back as much as they’d like to. You’re trying to build a career and start a family, and there are so many priorities. But I have found there are other ways to be connected to your University and make a hands-on difference in the lives of students you care about most.”