Hello Everyone!! I am Monica Stainer and I am a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Southern California working at a Big Four Accounting Firm. I am so excited to represent beautiful Culver City at Miss California this June!
As a little girl, I always knew I wanted to work in accounting or finance. I vividly remember waking up at 6:30am every morning, watching the Stock Market’s opening bell with my Dad, and naming off the companies in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ as the ticker symbols went by. There were definitely some interesting reactions when I was an elementary school girl saying that I wanted to be an accountant, rather than the typical response of a doctor, astronaut, or an actress; but I didn’t let that stop me. I wanted to prove that girls can be in finance too.
For Christmas, most teenagers ask for the newest iPhone, a car, or new clothes for school, but I asked for responsibility – I wanted my own credit card. I made a spreadsheet of my babysitting and tutoring earnings and proved to my parents that I could be responsible and pay for my meals and activities in-full every month. For Christmas that year, I was given a bag with an item that felt like a small piece of plastic. With extreme excitement, I opened the bag and found a $50 Gas Card. My parents told me to look for the lucky penny in the bag’s side pocket, which is a tradition my family engages in – and there it was – my own credit card! I quickly realized that this was not as glamorous as it seemed because I had to actively budget my spending, say “no” to costly luxuries, and meet payment deadlines, but I took pride in my responsibility (and haven’t missed a payment of the full balance to date!).
The following year, my childhood dreams started becoming a reality when I was accepted into the University of Southern California’s Leventhal School of Accounting as an Accounting Major, but my dreams were almost shattered when the reality of tuition started sinking in. Through the over $8,000 in scholarships I earned as Miss California’s Outstanding Teen, a rigorous academic course load and a lot of hard work, I was able to graduate from a five-year program (Accounting Degree with CPA Eligibility) in three-an-a-half years and was offered a full time job at a Big Four Accounting Firm.
Working in Corporate America, I’ve found that I still get interesting reactions when I tell people I’m an accountant – and now, that makes me proud. I am proud to be a woman in finance, proud to be auditing financial statements to validate that companies are reporting their financials accurately, proud to be participating in meetings with Corporate Controllers, CFOs, and CEOs, and most of all, proud of myself for achieving my goals and aiming higher for the future. I hope to continue breaking barriers and sharing my knowledge with younger generations just as my role models: Cathy Englebert, CEO of Deloitte, Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments (and my Commencement Speaker at USC), and Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet/Google, have shared.
Because both of my parents had experience in the finance industry, I learned to budget, watch my spending, avoid debt, and become financially independent at an early age. Unfortunately, not everyone has these resources and personal finance courses are also not required in our California schools under the current 2018 Standards. My parents were (and still are) my heroes, especially when it comes to finance, and I hope that I can use my personal and professional experience to be a financial hero for our youth through my platform, Banking on Our Future.
Along with my success thus far, I’ve learned that my dreams are constantly evolving. How can I use my knowledge and experience to give back to our community and our youth? What if I used “Miss” and “Corporate” interchangeably, rather than just being a part of Corporate America?
They say, “Money Makes the World Go Around” and as Miss Culver City and in my many years beyond the Miss America Organization I will continue to serve and promote financial literacy through my platform and organizations like Operation Hope’s Banking on Our Future program, so the next generation can understand how we keep this beautiful world of ours turning.
Thank you all so much for reading and following my journey of how I selected my platform through Scholarship, Success, Service, and always with Style 😉
Miss Culver City 2018