While living in Mexico, Denisse Arambula was an award-winning public speaker. So when she moved to El Paso, Texas at the age of 18 with the goal of learning English, she found it extremely challenging to go from being an expert communicator to not even being able to order at a restaurant.
“The level of confidence that I had in Mexico was gone,” explains Denisse of this time. “I wasn’t able to pursue my passion for public speaking. Instead, I was afraid people would make fun of me for my heavy accent, and I became an introverted person.”
Denisse made progress on her English, but even as she grew more confident in the language, her transition to the U.S. was not easy.
“Leaving your family, your culture, your everything—it takes a lot of sacrifices,” explains Denisse. “But I stayed focused on my ultimate goal, and that allowed me to keep going.”
Creating opportunities through resilience
Denisse didn’t come to the United States to pursue the American dream; she planned on learning English and moving back to Mexico. But as she settled in, she began to discover new opportunities. These opportunities were leading her to a higher education in America—something that she previously never thought was possible.
“I come from a very humble family,” explains Denisse. “Savings and checking accounts didn’t exist in my household. Most people are exposed to all this vocabulary as a kid. But I was exposed to it for the first time when I was 18 or 20 years old. As I learned more about the power of financial literacy, it was clear to me that I wanted to be part of that conversation, even though I wasn’t coming from a wealthy family.”
So, with a little help from her parents in addition to juggling three jobs, Denisse earned a bachelor’s degree and then an MBA with a focus on Finance from the University of Texas at El Paso. And in 2017, after a few entry-level positions with other companies where she worked her way up, she relocated to Orlando for a position at Schwab.
“It’s the resilience that has stayed with me,” explains Denisse who is currently part of the Wealth Management team, serving the specialized needs of international clients. “Resilience, humility, and an open mind have been the things that I’ve learned and developed that allow me to keep asking ‘what’s next?’”
Continuing to find what’s next
Another thing she’s learned is the importance of proactively seeking opportunities to bring her to her “what’s next.” Upon joining the company, Denisse joined the Schwab Organization of Latinx (SOL) employee resource group. She explains that SOL opened many doors for her by introducing her to people who became mentors and helped her grow her career at Schwab.
In 2021 through her involvement with SOL, she was able to participate in the Latino Leadership Institute’s Accelerating Impact Program (a three-month program designed to prepare Latino professionals for positions of influence and success). One of the topics that resonated most with Denisse was Imposter Syndrome—a feeling of believing that you are less than or not as competent as others perceive you to be.
The discussion about Imposter Syndrome took me back to those years when I doubted myself. Coming from humble beginnings and being surrounded by people who had a different background than mine made me lose my confidence. But a combination of time and experience has allowed me to get it back. Now I like to try new things, and if I fail, I know it’s just another way I’m learning, and not because I’m not capable.
- Denisse Arambula, Wealth Management, Schwab
Denisse has since become a co-chair of SOL where she’s learned that you don’t have to have “Manager” in your title to be a leader, and she’s continuing to stay connected to the programs Schwab offers to find more opportunities.
“You just have to allow yourself to take action on the opportunities presented to you,” explains Denisse. “I encourage others to embrace change with a growth mindset and remain humble and grateful.”