Sitting on her front stoop at 1900 Hennessey Place in the University Heights section of the Bronx, 8-year-old Lavera Wright told her best friend that she wanted to be an accountant when she grew up.

Some 40 years later, Wright sits at her own desk at the Fordham Foundry, Fordham’s small-business incubator, as the founding CEO of the financial advisory firm L. Wright Co. LLC.

It was not an easy journey from University Heights to Fordham.

In 1999, Wright’s young son was hit by a bus and killed while riding his bike. Two years later her marriage fell apart. Wright says her ex-husband continued to be a good father to their other three children, but the increased duties of raising a family left her little time to go to school.

“To do the right thing, I had to put school to the side,” she says. “I just wanted to make sure that I raised my kids in a nurturing home.”

Eventually, Wright managed to take some online classes, and she gathered credits at Bronx Community College. When her childhood friend asked her to accompany her to Fordham while she applied to a master’s degree program, Wright had no idea that she’d also be recruited. Having recently been laid off from her job, she says she had little to lose when a Gabelli School of Business adviser encouraged her to apply for admission. She fretted about her writing skills, but was certain of her love of arithmetic and logic.

“I’ll never forget the call,” she says. “It was September 2008. The man on the phone said, ‘Congratulations, welcome to Fordham University.’ The tears just came down from my eyes and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I made it in.’”

The first year proved the toughest, Wright says, but she eventually found her footing. She even conquered her fear of writing.

“All I could see were the grammar mistakes, but one of my professors said, ‘Lavera, you’re going to be a beautiful writer one day.’ He saw the potential in me and knew that one day I’d be in a place where I could accept my voice. I thank God for my professors, because they didn’t give up on me.”

Wright graduated last February with a B.S. in public accounting. A couple of months later, her daughter graduated from college and her son graduated from high school. Her third son continues to do well in high school.

“When I walked down that aisle at graduation, it was like a domino effect,” she says. “I made that first impact, and because of that, it opened up many doors for my children.”

—Tom Stoelker


Tom Stoelker is senior staff writer and visual media coordinator for Fordham News. After fifteen years as a freelance designer, Tom shifted his focus to writing and photography. He graduated from Lehman College, CUNY where he majored in English literature and photography and he received his master's in journalism from Columbia University. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, and The Architect's Newspaper, where he was associate editor.