Two years before they settled in Yonkers and for years both of Hilda Perez’s parents worked odd jobs until her father was able to open his own practice. The practice was, and still is, a family affair. There, Perez first learned the value of hard work and how to operate a business.
As a student at Saunders Trades and Technical High School, Perez was a dedicated student and was active in various community service activities outside of the classroom. When her guidance counselor recommended Adelphi to her as a potential college choice, Perez decided to pay the University a visit. “I fell in love with the campus,” she said. “I just really enjoyed being there.”
Perez enrolled at Adelphi in 2007 and chose international studies as her major with a minor in political science and Italian. Among her favorite classes were the ones she took with Professor Katie Laatikainen and Professor Lawrence Sullivan. “I enjoyed all of my international studies classes,” she said.
While at Adelphi, Perez became involved with the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), which is now called the Latino Student Association. The objective of the organization, which today is known as the Latino Student Association, is to unify, inspire, educate and advocate for Latino culture at Adelphi. In her senior year, Perez was elected the president of LASO. That same year, she was recognized as president of the year by Adelphi.
Perez was also a member of the Levermore Global Scholars (LGS) program which provides students with an interdisciplinary global perspective allowing them to develop a deep understanding of how their lives and studies are interconnected with local and international communities. “There was this event that professor [Peter] DeBartolo took the Levermore Global Scholars to in Washington DC: the United States Summit for Citizen Diplomacy,” Perez said. “I was asked to deliver a speech in front of an audience of over 500 people. That was one of my fondest memories of my time at Adelphi.”
During her time at Adelphi, Perez also worked in the Center for Recreation and Sports and interned for several organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York and Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools, trains teachers and funds scholarships. “After that my family business needed attention,” she said. “Family always comes first.”
For the past five years, Perez has helped grow her family’s company, SPT Natural (formerly Salud Para Todos Inc.), through e-commerce, business development and administration. She currently serves as the company’s vice president and COO.
Perez also decided to continue her education. In 2014, she earned her master’s degree in social entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School and in 2015 she completed the Latino Entrepreneurs Leaders Program at Stanford University.
In 2014, Perez did what she calls the most courageous thing she had ever done; she started her own business. “I finally decided that it was time for me to follow my own path,” she said. Along with a friend, she co-founded Savvy: Marketing For Good, a marketing company aimed to grow social ventures and boost their positive impact by creating, implementing and measuring marketing activities. Since its inception, Savvy has worked with many prominent clients such as the Hult Prize. “They were actually our first client,” said Perez. “While working with them I got to meet one of my idols, Muhammad Yunus. That was unbelievable.”
Perez credits Adelphi for helping her get in touch with her roots, “I came from a pretty suburban town and I was a minority. At Adelphi I was able to explore and connect with my heritage.” Her advice to current students is, “Don’t hide in the back of class. Network with people. Get involved on campus,” she said. “I received real world experience on Adelphi’s campus.”