Guided growth: A tale of mentorship from Lutgert College of Business

5 – minute read

Florida Gulf Coast University finance major Belen Findley has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. With a loan from her parents, she started a business at a young age. In a small, purple notebook, she kept track of the tools and inventory she purchased to create bracelets, earrings and hair clips to sell. In the notebook, she wrote the names of neighbors, family and friends who became customers, the date of each sale and the amount paid or owed her.


“It was like an accounts receivable,” she says. “I was 6.” Findley even sold a hair clip to a bald man. “Sometimes I mention this in job interviews just because it’s funny,” she says.


As a senior, Findley is now facing more of those interviews. But she feels better prepared to enter the competitive job market thanks to the Lutgert College of Business mentorship program. With the guidance of an accomplished FGCU grad as her mentor, she is on a path toward success after overcoming a series of life challenges that started when she was 8.

FGCU student
Finance student Belen Findley meets her mentor, Chelsea Ganey, at the Lutgert College of Business mentor program kickoff event.

That was the year Findley’s life turned upside down. Her father developed Parkinson’s disease, and thereafter, her family moved from Chile to her parent’s home country, Peru. In 2012, Findley herself suffered an accident that resulted in a stroke and hematoma. She says medical professionals gave her a 0.1% chance of survival. Surviving that experience convinced her there must be a purpose for her existence.

She went looking for that purpose in the United States. In 2016, she married and moved to Florida. She taught herself English by watching television and reading. Tragedy struck again when her husband died in 2018. “I asked God, ‘What should I do now? Should I stay here and try to become someone? Should I go back home? What should I do?’ I felt like I was trying to get the signs and a reason to stay here.”

FGCU student
Belen Findley considered many Florida schools before choosing FGCU because of its highly regarded, accredited business college and its promise of real-world business experience.

Findley decided to stay and pursue a college education. “I recognize the necessity of sacrifice, determination and maintaining a positive attitude to achieve my goals,” she says.


She considered many Florida schools before choosing FGCU because of its highly regarded, accredited business college and its promise of real-world business experience. She’ll graduate December 2024.


This past fall, Findley was chosen as one of 50 students to participate in the college’s mentor program. The semester-long program started in 2022 with 30 students and has fostered over 168 student-mentor relationships.


At an August kickoff event, Findley was paired with Chelsea Ganey (’08, finance), chief strategy officer at Moran Wealth Management in Naples. They met multiple times over the next four months.


Under Ganey’s mentorship, Findley became a student member of the CFA Society of Naples and subsequently attended several events for women in business. Ganey reviewed Findley’s résumé multiple times, providing input and reviewing changes. The mentor also suggested avenues for networking and discussed possible career paths.

FGCU alum
FGCU alum Chelsea Ganey is chief strategy officer at Moran Wealth Management in Naples and mentors Lutgert students.
FGCU students
Bryn Goldsmith, left, helps Belen Findley choose a business suit at Azul’s Attire, a free professional clothing closet initiative by FGCU’s Career Development Services office. Goldsmith, an FGCU alum, is a career advisor and manages Azul’s. Photo: James Greco.

“My dream company will be Google,” Findley says. She can see herself starting as a finance analyst and growing into an executive position. She likes the idea of working for a global brand because of her multinational background.


During a mock interview, Ganey pretended to be a Google executive and asked Findley about her favorite Google product. But Findley blanked out and couldn’t think of a single one. She laughs when she thinks back on it — she loves Google Calendar and plans her whole day with it.

In addition to her mentor, Findley is thankful for the FGCU scholarships she received this year: The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Women in Business scholarship and the Suncoast Credit Union First Generation scholarship.


If Ganey could trade places with Findley and go back to her university days, what might she do differently?


“This mentorship program,” Ganey says. 

“I didn’t have someone doing this when I was in college. I’d also lean into making more connections with faculty and networking, and ask more questions about my career options.”


Like Findley, Ganey was a first-generation college student. She credits her parents for being supportive but recognizes they were not in a position to help her achieve her career goals. She says FGCU faculty assisted her in successfully navigating the business industry the way a mentor would, including helping her find her first job after graduation.


“One thing I always say about FGCU is that local employers know the quality of the graduates,” Ganey says. “I highlight the close relationships you can have at FGCU with your professors. They’ve had real experience with incredible careers, sometimes in larger cities, that can serve as a network for you. At other schools you might get taught by a teaching assistant, but at FGCU you have access to your faculty, which I encourage students (like Belen) to share in interviews.”


The relationships students like Findley can form with their faculty, as well as with mentors like Ganey, help FGCU graduates achieve professional success.


To apply to the Lutgert mentor program as a mentor or mentee, visit the program site.


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