Women Supporting Women at USF

by Jady Ojiri, Office of Development Communications

After working as a family law attorney for over nine years, Sarah Schulze JD ’12 decided that she needed a career change. She created an account on NetworkUSF with the hopes of finding a fellow USF graduate who could provide insight into the compliance field. With a bit of luck from the Connection Hub, she found Nicole Cabrera MS ’20.

Schulze saw that Cabrera was working within the compliance field in the biotech industry, so she sent Cabrera a direct message and asked if she would be open to having a conversation.

“I’ve been in sales before and I’ve done cold calls and I was just really impressed that someone had taken it upon themselves to say, ‘Hey, I’m looking to do something different. Reaching out to you is a step I can take. NetworkUSF is a resource I can use.’ So I said, ‘Of course. Let’s talk!’” Cabrera said.

Schulze remembered that from the first time they met “Nicole was incredibly kind. With networking, many times you’ll ask someone for fifteen minutes and they’ll give you fifteen minutes. You might never talk to them again after that. But with Nicole, she really took the time to walk me through what she did and what her path was. I think for our first conversation we might have talked for an hour and I had initially asked for twenty to thirty minutes.”

The Power of Good Mentorship

Cabrera emphasized that her upbringing and experiences throughout college motivated her to become a strong resource for other students, alumni, friends, and colleagues over the years.

“Growing up, I don’t think I realized that I overcame a lot. I’m a queer, lesbian, woman of color, first-generation college student, and the first one to go to graduate school. I’ve realized that I had a lot of help from people in my career, and I want to make sure that I pay it forward,” Cabrera stated.

“I had a really great mentor a few years ago and we still keep in touch. She was extremely impactful and I learned that mentoring was something I wanted to be able to do as well. Whatever I can do to help people, to connect people, to make things a little easier — whatever it is they need — if I can provide it I want to make sure that I do,” Cabrera added.

When Schulze stepped forward and asked for help, Cabrera was eager to make her previous mentors proud by sharing as much knowledge and expertise as possible. Since their first conversation, the two have had several calls and developed a strong bond.

“She set me on the path to help me to figure out what compliance actually was and then she connected me to around thirty people who worked in the field,” Schulze said. “Because of the pandemic we haven’t had a chance to meet in person, but throughout all of this we’ve managed to connect and share personal things about our lives. I know that when I get the chance I will certainly be taking her out for a big thank you.”

A Word of Advice: Go for It

If there is anything that Schulze has learned from this experience, it is that “People want to help. People want to hear why you’re reaching out to them. Even if they can’t help you directly, they probably know someone who they can connect you to and you never know what those connections are going to lead to.”

“There are so many benefits that you can get from a site like NetworkUSF. You’re helping not only to build yourself professionally, but you’re also getting to know people and having them support you. That was really unexpected, but it’s been such a pleasure,” Schulze said.

About NetworkUSF

NetworkUSF is an online platform that offers opportunities for USF community members to meet and connect with each other from across the globe. NetworkUSF users may reach out to individuals directly through the Connection Hub, join an alumni group, participate in discussion boards, and discover several other opportunities for engagement.

Interested in connecting with alumni like Cabrera and Schulze? Join NetworkUSF or contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at or (800) 449-4873.