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Melissa Garcia believes education is the path to success. She says she was blessed to attend some of the finest academic institutions including Academy of the Holy Angels, an all-girls preparatory school, and The University of Scranton where she received a bachelor of science in financial accounting with a minor in finance and a Master of Business Administration degree.

As the controller at AAA North Penn, Scranton, she is responsible to manage the operations of the finance and accounting department. She was most recently promoted to the executive management team at the business.

“This gives me more responsibility for the organization as a whole,” she notes. “I’m looking forward to the future here at AAA. My favorite part of being in a management position is seeing others grow and reach their full potential.”

The businesswoman has been a board member of Dress for Success Lackawanna since 2010 and on the executive committee as the board treasurer for the majority of that time. She has also been active with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and volunteers throughout the year for various organizations throughout Lackawanna County.

“I find it most rewarding to roll up my sleeves and volunteer on the frontline of organizations,” she added.

During her time in public accounting the partners and managers at the firm have taught her the skills she has needed to grow professionally into her career.

“My time in public accounting exposed me to different industries and the various levels of each organization I had the opportunity to work with,” she said. “I am learning every day, and every experience is an opportunity to grow.”

Her mentor is Margaret McCormick, the CFO of AAA North Penn.

“She is very strong-willed and forward-thinking businesswoman,” said Garcia. “I admire her integrity and learn something new from her every day.”

Since the age of 14, Garcia has been employed and believes hard work and determination have allowed her to grow within her profession and as an adult. She enjoys working on projects as a team and looking at each task as an opportunity to surpass her own expectations.

She often recalls a saying found on The University of Scranton’s Kania School of Management which has resonated with her:

“Of those to whom much has been given, much is expected.”

With a great family support system, Garcia’s parents never let her give up on anything and always believed in her, and often goes to her parents for advice and honest feedback. Her boyfriend has encouraged her during the hardest two years of her life - working in public accounting and attending graduate school, both full-time, while studying for the CPA exam on weekends and during winter/summer breaks.

“There were many late nights and early mornings spent at the kitchen table studying,” she acknowledged.

She received The University of Scranton College of Graduate and Continuing Education academic achievement award for accounting; is certified in Public Accounting; and is a member of the Pennsylvania institute of Certified Public Accountings and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Having grown up in Bergen County, N.J., Garcia had full intentions of moving back following college; however, during her graduate school studies, she worked full time at a Scranton-based public accounting firm and fell in love with the area and made NEPA her home.

“I have made lifelong friends and I would not want to live and work anywhere else,” she concluded.