Moss Adams Voices

Ayde Alvarado: Generational Advancement

Ayde discusses this year’s Latinx Heritage Month theme, United and Present. She explores her upbringing, her experiences in the industry, and how the LatinX BRG is making a difference.

Ayde Alvarado

Ayde Alvarado, assurance senior, joined Moss Adams in October 2018. Throughout college and her professional career, she has participated in several mentorship programs to help the next generation navigate their opportunities for the future. She works with first-generation US high school students in Oregon to prepare for the college application process. Ayde also is a member of the PNW region’s LatinX business resource group (BRG) steering committee, and she’s passionate about bringing other Latinx professionals into the accounting industry.

Where did your passion for helping others begin?

As the oldest of four first-generation children, I’m the first person in my immediate family to go to college. Things that came easy to others were challenging for me, such as filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), applying for scholarships, or making a college schedule. My parents didn’t have those experiences, so no one was there to help me navigate through that.

Once I learned about the resources that could help me, I passed that on to my younger sister Jennifer. I helped her know there were scholarships out there, and I helped her fill out her FAFSA. She did the same thing for my younger brother Victor. I’m guessing when my youngest sister Gaby goes to college, Victor will do the same for her.

In just three generations, our family has made such an advancement in our education. My grandmothers couldn’t get an education, and my parents couldn’t complete middle school due to the economic constraints of their small town. So, when I think about my siblings and I earning our degrees as our parents always encouraged us to, I’m proud of that. My parents also supported me while I obtained my CPA license, so that accomplishment was theirs as much as it was mine.

Can you tell me more about your family and your generational journey?

My family is from a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico, called San Martín Duraznos Tecomaxtlahuaca. My parents both grew up with a lot of siblings living together. I really value that my parents have tried to retain our Mexican traditions because my upbringing is so important to me as a person. We primarily speak Spanish, we celebrate many of the big Mexican holidays, and our family has dinner together at least once a week.

Growing up, a lot of my decisions have been made with my parents in mind. I weighed the financial package for every college I considered, and I tried my best to choose a college close to them. We have a great relationship, but sometimes I think it’s tough. I’m working on introducing boundaries to navigate my own life.

In our culture, multigenerational households are common. I think that’s amazing, but I needed to step away and grow into my own person. When I decided to move out, I gave my parents a year to emotionally prepare but they were still taken aback. They also expected me to come over every evening for dinner, which isn’t feasible. We’ve compromised now, but that’s not how my parents grew up.

Even now, I’m considering life in a different state and our relationship and cultural expectations add an additional layer of complexity to all my decisions.

Ayde Alvarado

Did your experiences as a first-generation Latina affect your access to the accounting industry?

I think a lack of exposure to the industry is a big hindrance. Some students have accounting classes in their high schools, but many of us don’t know anything about it until college. My parents are immigrants, so they didn’t use accountants the same as other families might.

Before I decided on Moss Adams, I attended an accounting recruiting event with other college students. I quickly realized my friend and I were the only people of color in the entire room. It was alarming to think that this was a glimpse at my future career. I considered whether it was something I wanted to pursue.

Much later at a different recruiting event, I stopped by a booth with two Latinas on staff. I remember thinking this career would be possible for me. We had an amazing conversation, and I almost joined that firm. It’s a testament to the power of representation. I ended up choosing Moss Adams because I enjoyed the culture, but it was a tough choice. I hadn’t met any Latinx professionals at Moss Adams until my first day at the firm.

Sometimes when you step in a room and feel like you don’t belong, you feel like an imposter. There are days I walk in a room and immediately realize I’ll be the only person of color present. Feeling like you’re occupying space can be emotionally tiring. It’s something I still struggle with and I’m working on combating that.

How is Moss Adams supporting the Latinx community?

The Oregon chapter of the LatinX BRG was created because three staff members in the region realized we didn’t have one. They made it happen, and it’s really making a difference for us.

It speaks to the impact you can have at Moss Adams at any level. I think the firm sponsoring these leadership opportunities is proof there’s support for our inclusion and diversity needs. I’d love to see that pulled through at all levels, with mentorships and recruitment from underprivileged high schools, to see the full impact of that commitment.

When we hosted interns this past summer, a handful of them were Latinx. They gave me the same look I gave those two Latinas from the other firm. I think it goes a long way—knowing that there’s someone out there who not only looks like you but celebrates the culture you do. It helps with defeating that imposter syndrome.

This month is Latinx Heritage Month, and the theme is “United and Present.” What does that mean to you?

It’s challenging being in the United States and searching for the balance of embracing my Mexican culture. I’ve become more aware of things I’ve done in the past, like codeswitching in high school and even during my recruiting processes. I’m a proud Latina, but it took time for me to outwardly present myself that way and find my confidence.

Latinx Heritage Month is an opportunity to embrace our culture, be that through food, dance, the arts, or any other way we connect to our history.

As a Latinx community, we’ve grown so much and are continuing to grow. I’m starting to see that unity in political movements and representation that validates that we’re here. Our community has already contributed so much, and we’re ready to validate those contributions.

Go Beyond the Desk

At Moss Adams, we believe in the power of possible to empower our clients and people to pursue success however they define it. Explore stories about our professionals, including their personal achievements, at our Beyond the Desk page.