Success Stories

Ismael Ricardo paid forward the good advice he received as a student by becoming a tutor to his peers

Ismael Ricardo

Ismael Ricardo

When you talk to 2023 Western Connecticut State University graduate Ismael Ricardo about his journey, he frequently invokes the name of his slightly older cousin, Marco Almeida, who studied Economics at WCSU for a year before Ricardo enrolled. As a first-generation student, it was especially helpful for Ricardo to have someone he trusted who could give him advice and show him the way.

Born and raised in Danbury to Brazilian immigrant parents, Ricardo spent a portion of his youth living in Brazil attending elementary and middle school before returning to Danbury to attend Immaculate High School, from which he graduated in 2019.

When it came time to choose a college, Ricardo said he looked at several options in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. “What made me decide to go to WCSU was the opportunity to stay local and make an impact in the school that’s in the community I grew up in,” he said. “I had a handful of family members who had attended WCSU, including direct family with my older sister, Isabela Ricardo, which also helped make the choice easy. The opportunity to be able to get a top education and continue working through school all at a minimal cost — as I was fortunate to receive scholarships and grants through the Kathwari Honors Program and others — was something I could not pass up.”

Ricardo enrolled as a Finance major in the AACSB-accredited Ancell School of Business. “I’ve always been very certain it was what I wanted, as I saw a lot of different possibilities in the field,” he said. “Since I had always been interested in the world of finance, the decision for me was easy and I can safely say now that it was the right one.”

Not quite a year after graduating, Ricardo looked back at his experience. “I participated in a few extracurriculars, but the two major ones that I look back and say made the biggest impact on me were the Finance Club and working as an Ancell Commons tutor,” he said. “I joined the Finance Club as a first-semester freshman, thanks to my older cousin who was in the club at the time. In the beginning, I was the only underclassmen consistently participating in a room full of upperclassmen, so it was great to participate in those meetings for my confidence and leadership skills. I continued in the club and in my senior year I became the vice president. The club really began laying the foundation to take off in the future; which, judging by the results I’ve heard of this year so far, they’ve been doing really well.”

The tutoring at the Ancell Commons came about, Ricardo said, because there was a desperate need for finance and accounting tutors. “I had been talking to Ancell Commons Coordinator Elise Budnick a lot about the Finance Club for the Ancell Pride publication, and she would always express how short they were on help. So I decided to jump in and help. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to teach, lead and put myself out there. So I took it and ran with it for the semester, and I am so thankful I did. Elise is really the best and had it not been for her, I don’t think I would have had the success I did my senior year.”

Ricardo was a commuter student and worked full-time hours juggling several jobs during his college experience, except for his final semester. As he prepared to graduate, his hard work was recognized. In a LinkedIn post, Ricardo wrote, “It is an absolute privilege to represent the Finance program at our university and receive the Finance Department Award, as well as represent our entire school of business and receive the Ancell School of Business Dean’s Award. These awards are given to only one graduating senior, and I am deeply grateful to have been recognized in this way, as it reflects the culmination of my hard work and dedication throughout my time at WCSU. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Interim Dean Dr. Joan Palladino, Dr. Annie Wong, and my mentor, Finance professor, and Finance Club advisor, Dr. Aaron Lin, for presenting me with these two awards. Their unwavering support and guidance have been instrumental in my success.”

Ricardo continued, “As I prepare to graduate and embark on my professional journey, I am overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment and pride. When my family moved back to this country, my mother had a dream for me, and I am determined to honor her dream by achieving nothing but the best. Although these accolades are a testament to my academic achievements, the real work starts now as I translate everything I have learned in the past four years into the real world.”

Ricardo has certainly fulfilled his mother’s dream. He’s currently employed as a credit analyst at Newtown Savings Bank, and he got there because of both WCSU and his cousin Marco. “The job at the bank came about through a pdf my cousin sent me, that one of his professors at WCSU sent him, about a student work program specifically for two WCSU students. As a rising junior, I knew I needed to get more internship experience on my resume and especially at a local financial institution that has great relations with our school and the community, so the choice was a no brainer. From there I landed another role in the bank upon conclusion of the one-year program.”

As he posted on LinkedIn last year, Ricardo understands the value of accepting advice and paying it forward. “I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to everyone who has supported me throughout this incredible journey. I am truly grateful for the encouragement and inspiration.”


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.