Marquisa Gaines: Alumni Board Chair

Marquisa Gaines is the appointed chair of Bottom Line’s Inaugural Alumni Board, and is an alum of Bottom Line’s second class. She first came to Bottom Line while attending Another Course to College (ACC) and went on to enroll and graduate from Hampton University in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Today, Marquisa is a Senior Real Estate Reporting Analyst at Eaton Vance, one of the oldest investment management firms in the country.


High School: Another Course to College

College: Hampton University, Class of 2002

Position: Senior Real Estate Reporting Analyst

Company: Eaton Vance


Why Marquisa is Proud to be a Bottom Line Alum: As a Bottom Line Alum, I am honored to represent this wonderful organization and all that it stands for in such a huge way. Bottom Line exemplifies what it takes to be successful when you remain patient and dedicated to following your dreams and reaching your career goals, something I’ve instilled in my daily goals and self evaluation of my life.

Marquisa’s Advice for Bottom Line Alumni: As a Bottom Line Alum, I think it is important to give back to the very organization that prepared and set you up for success. In addition, always remain humble and true to yourself, as you never know what goals can be achieved or results attained with your authenticity. Lastly, understand there will be trials and tribulations. What matters however, is HOW you handle such adversity.


My name is LiliLili Wondwossen and I graduated from Boston University in 2014 with a degree in Health Science. I am originally from Ethiopia, Africa and moved to Boston when I was eight years old. I currently work at State Street as a Project Analyst in the Corporate Audit Department. I plan to pursue my MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Management and run a hospital or work with an international NGO.

High School: The John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Sciences

College: Boston University

Graduation Year: 2014

Job: Project Analyst at State Street Corporation

Bottom Line memory:  The Bottom Line office was my second home during High school. It is safe to say I was probably there once a week and got familiar with most of the counselors that worked there. I also had fun eating all the jolly ranchers at the front desk.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with: Shoes and Clothes coupons (College can be expense), KitKat, and Green Tea

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line:  Bottom Line was and still is such an instrumental part of my life. I could not be where I am today without the continuous support of Bottom Line and its staff. Jackie Robinson once said “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other life.” I want to do for others what Bottom Line did for me. They are a gateway to success and it is my honor and privilege to be part of such an extraordinary organization.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: not know how to speak English. I moved to the states when I was eight years old and could barely formulate a sentence in English. It didn’t take long for me to learn but it was something I certainly struggled with.

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: working and saving money. It is also the best time to really figure out who you are by gaining experiences in different professional sectors.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Having to pay bills and figuring out what to do with your life!

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by: becoming a “Go Far Volunteer.” As a volunteer, you can provide the students with mock interviews or informational interviews. Bottom Line students can extremely benefit from your professional experiences and it allows Bottom Line students to feel comfortable and confident during job interviews. Find out more here.

This month Bottom Line – MA hosted Go Far Forum events in Boston and Worcester. More than 300 college students and graduates from Boston and 200 local professionals gathered at the Westin Copley Place Hotel to participate in Bottom Line’s sixth annual Go Far Forum on January 9th. Lead event sponsors of the Boston Go Far Forum were Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston Children’s Hospital, iRobot, Liberty Mutual, and Sun Life Financial. In total, 29 companies, nonprofits, and professional associations had exhibitions at the event. The event also featured a keynote speech by George Foreman III, owner of The Club, boxer, and son of former heavyweight champion boxer George Foreman. Mr. Foreman spoke to students about how to stand out professionally and the importance of building your brand.


Boston Go Far Forum Keynote Speaker George Foreman III conducts a mock interview

Bottom Line Worcester hosted their Go Far Forum at the DCU Center on January 7th with more than 100 Worcester college students, graduates, and local professionals in attendance. Hanover Insurance Group, Worcester’s second-largest employer, served as the lead sponsor of the event. Staples and UMass Memorial Healthcare provided supporting sponsorships. In total, 18 companies and nonprofits were in attendance.

Bottom Line students and Hanover Employees

Students speak to Hanover Insurance employees at the Worcester Go Far Forum

Students at both events participated in mock interviews with volunteer professionals, attended roundtable discussions with human resource professionals, listened to job search panels, and met with representatives from companies and professional organizations at a career fair.

“The Go Far Forum has motivated me to continue working hard in school in order to become a successful person in the future. The mock interviews made me feel confident about the skills I have and helped me prioritize the experiences I will need in order to accomplish my goals,” said Bottom Line student Richard Gonzalez.

The Go Far Forum provides students with an exciting opportunity to explore different career paths, gain professional skills and network with experts in their field.


Bottom Line students at the Go Far Forum in Boston

Click here to learn more about Bottom Line – New York’s recent Go Far Forum event.

On January 9th, nearly 100 of our college students and over 50 volunteers attended Bottom Line-New York’s Third Annual Go Far Forum. Students had the opportunity to work one-on-one with volunteers to edit their resumés, learn from a variety of professionals about their career paths, and practice their networking skills. Below are three of our students’ reflections on the event and what action the Go Far Forum has inspired each of them to take:

  IMG_2254Name: Taiwo Akande

  College: Brooklyn College

  Graduation Year: 2015

  Career Interests: Lawyer, but now I’m also thinking about other careers after this year’s Go Far Forum

What was your favorite career roundtable and why? The Law and Criminal Justice roundtable was my   favorite. Cristina (a Bottom Line – Massachusetts alum) was a volunteer on the roundtable who stood out to me in  particular. I talked to her one-on-one after the roundtable and appreciated how honest she was with me about  the  good and bad parts of entering the legal field.

What’s one piece of professional advice that you learned at the Go Far Forum? Everyone that I communicated with advised me not to focus solely on the job field that applies most closely to my major. They encouraged me not to limit my options. I used to think that with my Political Science major all that I could do was go into politics; the volunteers helped me open my mind to new ideas.

One next step that I’m planning to take after the Go Far Forum: Cristina encouraged me to start practicing for the LSATs if I really want to go to law school right after undergrad. She told me about a great summer program and I’m planning to apply.


IMG_2396  Name:  Randa Naim

  College: College of Staten Island

  Graduation Year: 2017

  Career Interests: Undecided, but I’m studying electrical engineering right now.

What was your favorite career roundtable and why? I really liked the business roundtable because it was pretty inspirational. There was a volunteer from Nickelodeon and he was telling us about the business of getting stars to sign contracts. I found that really interesting because when you watch Nickelodeon you think about Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, but Joel showed us that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

What’s one piece of professional advice that you learned at the Go Far Forum? There was a volunteer from Canon during the networking time who reminded us to keep reaching out. He said that it’s good that we’re starting early by going to the Go Far Forum, but that we should reach out and not limit ourselves. We should go for lots of internships and get lots of experience while we’re young.

One next step that I’m planning to take after the Go Far ForumI was already applying to some internships and fellowships, so now I’m definitely going to finish those applications.


IMG_2350  Name: Tiffany Acevedo

  College: SUNY Albany

  Graduation Year: 2017

  Career Interests: I definitely want to go to law school, but I’m not sure specifically what I want to study – possibly international business.

What was your favorite career roundtable and why? I enjoyed the law and criminal justice roundtable because I really liked that one of the panelists, Adi, said that if you want to go to law school, you don’t have to major in anything specific; you can study what interests you in college and law school will help you with the legal stuff.

What’s one piece of professional advice that you learned at the Go Far Forum? When you’re having professional conversations, there is never a negative attitude. When professionals were speaking to us, they treated us like adults and not just college students. That made me feel really good about myself.

One next step that I’m planning to take after the Go Far ForumI’m  going to attend more networking events because something good always comes out of them. You could meet someone who will have opportunities that you can take advantage of in the future or you could learn a new piece of advice.

254010_1969952601386_1020090013_2239148_8339064_nMirjola Adhami is a consultant at Sun Life Financial in their Rotational Leadership Development Program. Mirjola is in her third rotation at Sun Life, having worked in HR as a recruiter, in sales as a distribution consultant, and now in investments.

Mirjola came to Bottom Line from Another Course to College High School. Bottom Line helped her GET IN to Tufts, GRADUATE debt- free by connecting her to scholarship programs, and GO FAR by introducing her to Bottom Line partner, Sun Life Financial.

Eleven years ago, Mirjola moved to the United States from Albania with her family. She moved here with very little knowledge about American life, but found plenty of support from some very special people and organizations, one of which was Bottom Line.

High School: Another Course to College

College: Tufts University

Graduation Year: 2011

Job: Sun Life Financial, Rotational Consultant

Bottom Line Memory: Selectively picking and eating jolly ranchers by the front desk.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with: Almonds, peanuts (yay healthy snacks!), Purell, post-its and stress balls (for finals!).

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: I cannot talk about my success and achievements without talking about Bottom Line. The only way I can thank Bottom Line is by staying involved and helping other students succeed.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: listen to the BBC to learn English when I was growing up in Albania.

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: a) you make money, b) you are in the privileged minority of college graduates – use it!

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Not having as much free time to focus on activities that interest you outside of work.

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by assembling care packages at the Bottom Line office and by making a financial contribution to Bottom Line. Remember to have your donations matched by your company!



Richardson, Abigail 3Abi Richardson has her Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Abi was born and raised in Boston and is committed to giving back to the community. Her goals vary from expanding her brand Vers Clothing (Very Easily Redefining Style) to assisting at distribution events in Honduras giving children and adults their first pair of sneakers. Abi enjoys collecting sneakers and is actively involved within sneaker culture.

High School: Boston Latin Academy

College: UMass Amherst

Graduation Year: 2013

Job(s): President at Vers Clothing; Director of Programming for Sneakers4Success; Gas Sales and Marketing for NSTAR

Bottom Line Memory:

I appreciate all the assistance Bottom Line has provided for me while I was in college, but choosing a college was the difficult part. I honestly didn’t want to go to college. I remember speaking to Sarah Hedges as a high school student about not really knowing what was next in my life. She helped me visualize what my future could be and helped me to recognize that college would give me more options for my future. She explained to me how helpful Bottom Line would be throughout my journey in college. I instantly felt welcomed and incredibly appreciative.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with:

Now that’s easy. I’d fill it with my brand Vers Clothing of course. Don’t get me wrong, getting candy is awesome. But candy AND a tee shirt?? That would be crazy. One day…

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line:

I know I didn’t get to where I am today by myself. It’s important for me to give back to programs that have stuck by my side. There are so many ways to give back to our community, the only problem was choosing one (or two, or three). I appreciated every thing Bottom Line has done for me – from sending me care packages to providing mentoring.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to:

Only have two pair of sneakers. I remember having my all white and my all black pair of Nike Air Forces Ones.

The BEST part of being a college graduate is:

Having the freedom to do absolutely whatever I want with my time. I don’t have to wake up for class anymore or worry about if my homework is finished. I don’t read a syllabus anymore to guide me along each semester. The best part is using everything I’ve learned and applying it to whatever I love to do.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is:

Actually deciding what to do with all this free time. There are so many careers to choose from, events to attend and opportunities to volunteer. There’s a lot of pressure to hurry and a find a job right after college but I believe we all have our own path to whatever we define as success.

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by…

Volunteering to build care packages, attending the annual alumni Success Celebration and maybe being part of the Success Celebration committee and donating a care package!



NoelaniMeet October’s alumna spotlight, Noelani Guerrero!

Noelani D. Guerrero is currently a Human Resources Coordinator at Nutter McClennen & Fish, LLP. She received her B.S. in Communications and Human Development from Boston College in 2007. Her goal is to continue working in the Human Resources field as a Generalist and ultimately a Manager. Noelani was born and raised in Boston and enjoys staying involved in community service. She currently serves on the Bottom Line Alumni Board and volunteers with the Hyde Square Task Force College Bound Mentoring Program. At some point, Noelani would like to go back to school and earn a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management.

High School: West Roxbury High School

College: Boston College

Graduation Year:

Job: HR Coordinator Nutter

Bottom Line Memory: Go Far Dinner my senior year of college where I had made a connection with Eastern Bank employees and later got one of my first jobs out of college with them.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with: Hand Sanitizer and Chap Stick (can never get enough), healthy snacks, chocolate, pens & pencils (that always manage to get lost), and a quote of encouragement.

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: The staff and supporters made a huge impact on my college application process and beyond. 

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: Stroll at parties with my sorority sisters….(I still do on occasions!)

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: Not being a student! No more early classes, homework, midterms or finals – although that prepared me for the real world experience, so I’m grateful for it.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Finding a job that you like, with a company that you like where you can grow and see yourself long term. 

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by…. I supported the Rodman Ride by donating $100 dollars of my own money and fundraising another $500; join me and donate today!


Philistin, Johanne Meet July’s alumna spotlight, Johanne Philistin!

Johanne graduated with a B.A. in Accounting from Northeastern University in 2010. She is originally from Haiti, and moved to Boston ten years  ago. She is currently a Staff Accountant at Industrial Economics. Her goal in the next few years is to go to graduate school and get a CPA license. Johanne currently resides in Hyde Park where she enjoys riding her bike.


High School: Hyde Park High School

College: Fisher College & Northeastern University

Graduation Year:

Job: Junior Accountant

Bottom Line Memory: The first time I met Dave, I remember him trying to reiterate the fact that the service was free and I thought it was a sales pitch just to get me to sign up. Little did I know the service was, in fact, free.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with:
Starbucks gift cards and Kit Kats

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: They supported me through college, and now it’s my turn to support them.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: Do ballroom dancing. ( I wasn’t a pro or anything, but I wasn’t bad either.)

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: No homework! (Just kidding). Working in my field and putting all of that theory into practice.

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: Loan repayment  

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by…. Joining me on the Rodman Ride or supporting me by going to my fundraising page to contribute!

On September 28th I will be riding 25 miles in a non-competitive ride to support Bottom Line. I ride with Bottom Line because I want those college students to have the same opportunity that I had as a Bottom Line student. I was in their shoes not too long ago, and I know what it feels like to want to walk across that stage and receive that diploma. I believe Bottom Line can help them achieve that goal, and I want to contribute to their success and be part of their journey.

Kim NguyenMeet June’s Alumni Spotlight, Kim!

Kim Nguyen is a recent graduate of Brown University (2011) and currently works at Harvard as a Development Assistant. She was born and raised in Dorchester and moved out after college to only live a mile from her childhood home. (Her family is secretly very happy about this turn in events.) Kim hopes to continue her education in International Relations/Public Policy and pursue a career in non-profit development and public service. In her spare time, Kim dabbles in Taekwondo and kickboxing.

High School: Another Course to College

College: Brown University

Graduation Year:

Job: Development Assistant, Harvard University

Bottom Line Memory: Sarah made countless calls to Brown’s financial aid office to fight for the best financial aid package for me. It made all the difference! Thank you so, so much, Sarah!

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with:
Ice cream cakes, peach rings, socks, and dryer sheets.

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: I really believe in Bottom Line’s mission, methods, and its amazing community of students, alumni, staff and supporters.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: want to be a fire fighter

The BEST part of being a college graduate is: NO HOMEWORK!

The HARDEST part about being a college graduate is: not being in walking distance of all your closest friends.

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by…. Coming to our next event! Help make care packages, plan a fundraiser, meet current students, or make a gift to support our fellow first-generation college students!

Sam LouisMeet May’s spotlight alumna, Sam Louis!

Samantha Louis is a current graduate of Simmons College School of Clinical Social Work (Class of 2013) and has a BS in psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice from Bridgewater State University. She is currently employed part time under the student program at the VA hospital. Bottom Line connected her with this program about 5 years ago and she has been there since. She was born in Haiti and moved to Boston when she was 5 years old. She enjoy dancing and being around her awesome family and friends. Her current plan now is to find a “big girl” job and venture into the real world.

High School: Social Justice Academy

College: Bridgewater State University (undergrad) and Simmons College (masters)

Graduation Year:
2011 and 2013

Bottom Line Memory: Going over college applications, college tours and awesome care packages.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with:
Hope and a flashlight. A lot of times life happens and things get a little hard and a little dark.  With hope and a flashlight we can see our way through.

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line:  Bottom Line is very important to me- people there have helped me to get where I am now. Before Bottom Line, I never thought of applying to a four-year college. I intended to go to a community college and then see what happened from there. Bottom Line gave me hope.  I love the cause and want to support it in its mission.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: I used to have no intentions of driving or learning how to do it.

The BEST part of being a college graduate is:  I made new friends from all over the world and of different cultures. I experienced a lot of different things and gained a lot of knowledge.

Join me by supporting Bottom Line by attending volunteering opportunities!