MSCPA Student Member Spotlight: Chris Reardon

Me close upTaking Full Advantage

Chris Reardon took full advantage of his MSCPA student membership. He attended Society networking events, career fairs and workshops which he leveraged into landing a position at EY as an auditor. Learn about how Chris transitioned from a civil engineering student, to the military, to pursuing a rewarding accounting career and his plans to tackle the CPA Exam.

1. Could you please introduce yourself, tell us your name, where you are from and a little bit about yourself?
My name is Chris Reardon, and I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston in the Summer of 2015. I was born in Miami, FL and lived there until I was 15 years old. After my freshman year of high school my family and I moved to New Jersey. After graduating from high school I left my new home in New Jersey and moved to Boston, which has been my home base ever since. I have a twin sister, a younger brother, three step brothers, and my sidekick, Liz, who I married in 2013.

2. So how did you get interested in studying accounting?
I started studying Accounting in 2013, however this was not the first choice for my career. I originally attended Northeastern University as a Civil Engineering Student. During my Junior year I went to Scotland for six months and worked as a Civil Engineer. I enjoyed every moment of living overseas. The independence, adventure, and challenge of living alone in a foreign land molded me into who I am today. Towards the end of my internship I decided to make a career change, and I pursued a business degree. There was a lot of thought put into my career change, however it came down to a few important factors. I wanted a career I would enjoy, that has great opportunities for growth and learning, and be a part of a growing industry. After weighing these factors along with my ambitions and skills, I decided that Accounting was my best choice.

Chris attending the MSCPA Politics at the Pub networking event.
Chris attending the MSCPA Politics at the Pub

“I wanted a career I would enjoy, that has great opportunities for growth and learning, and be a part of a growing industry. After weighing these factors along with my ambitions and skills, I decided that Accounting was my best choice.”

3. What do you like the most and least about the accounting field?
I currently work as an auditor so I can only speak about life as an auditor. Since I am still very new to the field, a lot of my experiences have been eye-opening. There has been a very steep learning curve since day one of my new job. One of my goals was to have great opportunities for growth and learning, and my current job is providing me that. At this stage, the only thing I could think of that I like least would be the long hours at work. At first, this does take a toll on your personal life, but I knew this would be the case as a new hire, so it was expected.

4. You had quite the interesting career before becoming an accountant. Can you please describe the other fields you worked in?
I was a Civil Engineering Student before I went into Accounting. I worked for about three years as a Civil Engineer until I decided to make my career change. I knew I wanted to become an Accountant but I needed a way to get there. I had already completed the majority of my core classes as an engineering student, so my goal was to complete my Accounting degree within two years. During my transition to my new career, I joined the military and I am entering my sixth year of service. I joined the military to challenge myself, learn new skills, and I also gained some great benefits, like free tuition. After three years on military duties out-of-state, I returned to Boston and enrolled at The University of Massachusetts Boston.

5. Are there certain skills you employ now that you learned from your previous careers?
I have found that the most impactful skills I have learned are social and networking skills.

6. You attended a good number of events as an MSCPA student member. Which ones were your favorites and what did you learn/gain from them?
Being around like-minded individuals always motivated me to do better. Joining the MSCPA as a student member allowed me to do just that. I have attended several career fairs and networking events, which inevitably landed me my current job. However, one event stood out as being very insightful and useful. One month before starting my current job, I attended the Partner Track Roundtable discussion panel where partners from various firms offered great advice for rising professionals. Each one of them shared their experiences throughout their careers and answered any questions the members asked. I took note of their advice, and used it to help plan my career goals.

Chris at the 2014 MSCPA Career Fair
Chris at the 2014 MSCPA Career Fair & Graduate School Expo

“I have attended several career fairs and networking events, which inevitably landed me my current job.”

7. I understand you are now working at EY, congratulations, how has the transition from student to accounting professional been?
Prior to starting at EY, I set realistic expectations for myself, so the initial transition was relatively smooth. I based my expectations on what my peers had prepared me for and on my previous professional experiences. I am currently in my first year as an Auditor at EY and the learning curve is steep. However, I feel that the transition to life as an auditor highly depends upon your first engagement. After my initial training at EY I was placed on a client whose year-end had just passed, therefore, my first audit was during busy season. As most accountants experience, the learning never ends, which is not much different than life as a student. One of the most rewarding parts of working at EY is the wealth of knowledge I am surrounded by on a daily basis. My next big task is passing the CPA Exam while balancing my current work demands.

8. Do you have a plan for sitting for the CPA Exam?
I have my first exam scheduled before Thanksgiving. My goal is to complete all 4 sections by September 1, 2016. During the winter months (i.e. busy season for an Auditor) I will not be studying or sitting for any exams. I plan on taking the remainder of my exams between April and August of 2016.

9. What advice would you give MSCPA student members looking to launch their career?
Get involved with the resources currently available to you. Constantly seek advice from your peers, including your classmates, professors, career advisers, and professional organizations. Take control of your career by getting a head start. I began searching for jobs/internships within the first week of studying accounting. Most importantly, set goals for yourself and work relentlessly to achieve them. However, do not get discouraged along the way. I stayed optimistic no matter the hurdle by creating opportunities from every failure or setback.

Chris in Scotland, enjoying the beauty and freedom of travel
Chris in Scotland, enjoying the beauty and freedom of travel.

“Most importantly, set goals for yourself and work relentlessly to achieve them. However, do not get discouraged along the way. I stayed optimistic no matter the hurdle by creating opportunities from every failure or setback.”

10. Final question, outside of a day of work, what would the ideal day for Chris Reardon be and what activities would you partake in?
An ideal day for Chris Reardon would be a day in a foreign city with my wife. I love to travel and enjoy all the feelings associated with exploring a new city. Since I have not yet left the country with my wife, this would be the ideal day for me. I also would not mind this one day to continue for a few weeks.

Chris @ UMB
Chris and his wife, Liz, at Frozen Fenway

MSCPA Student Member Spotlight: Yamileth Lopez


Seizing Opportunities

Many people have a vision for their senior year of college. Cookouts with friends, job interviews, a carefree time that’s a reward for four years of hard work. But often when we’re busy making plans for the future, life happens and we have to deal with the cards dealt.

Yamileth Lopez was completing her fourth year of business school in Venezuela in 1996 when her whole life changed. Her father passed away in America, leaving behind a convenience store in Hyde Park, Massachusetts with no one to run it for the family. Yamileth did not speak English, but she stepped up to the plate for her family, put school on hold and made the bold move to a foreign land.

She ran the business and began learning English, but never forgot her dream of finishing school and pursuing a career in business. She said, “I was born in Columbia and raised in Venezuela by my mother who started her own business. I was inspired by her to study business; I always enjoyed doing her bookkeeping so I decided to pursue accounting. That is what I was studying before I had to put everything on hold and move to America, but I always wanted to go back to it.

Yamileth now had a family of her own, but she wanted to be a role model for her daughter, like her mother was for her, so she started looking for opportunities to get back in school. That’s when she heard about about the JVS Bridges to College Program and pounced on the opportunity. The program is a free 23-week college preparation program that helps candidates develop the skills necessary to succeed in college. Academic coaches even support students through the college application and financial aid application process. After Yamileth completed the program, they helped her get accepted to Bunker Hill Community College.

After over a ten-year-break, Yamileth was back studying accounting. She picked up right where she left off and excelled maintaining a 3.76 grade point average. She also interned at Raytheon, Staples and Liberty Mutual.

Yamileth and her daughter Nayleth

Following her credo to “seize upon every opportunity,” she had a chance meeting with the MSCPA. Lopez said, “My professor told me to come to a meeting and learn about the Massachusetts Society of CPAs and what it has to offer. I am always looking for new opportunities and there I met Barbara (Barbara Iannoni, MSCPA Academic Manager) and Chris O’Day (Academic & Development Specialist) and they told me about student membership and encouraged me to apply for scholarships.”

Apply Yamileth did and she has been the winner of two MSCPA scholarships the MSCPA/ALPFA Scholarship in 2014 and the 2015 KPMG Firm Scholarship (each scholarship was for $2,500). Among other achievements Yamileth was selected this past May as one of the 29 graduates of Massachusetts public colleges and universities honored at the State House by Governor Charlie Baker in the “29 Who Shine” ceremony.

Yamileth & Governor Charlie Baker

Yamileth graduated from Bunker Hill and will be attending UMass Boston to complete her Bachelors in Accounting this fall. Next on her list of goals is to complete an internship at a public accounting firm (attention to any firms reading this!).

When asked what lessons she’s learned from her odyssey, Yamileth said, “Never give up. Look for opportunities and try to meet the right people and get on the right path. Things will fall together if you work hard and get in the right place.”

Yamileth at her Bunker Hill Community College Graduation in May, 2015

2015 Student Member & Young Professional Night at the Red Sox 6/2


“Strike C, Strike P, Strike A!, you got your CPA!”

MSCPA Student Members & Young Professionals Take Fenway

What happens when you gather 40 MSCPA student members and young accounting professionals for a Red Sox event? A rocking good time, that’s what!

On June 2nd, student members and young professionals gathered at Lansdowne Pub for a pregame networking party and later attended the Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins game. Students were eager to network and young professionals such as Joe Burke of Edelstein & Company LLP were impressed. “It’s great to see students getting out and meeting people in the industry. Getting their name out there will definitely help them in their career,” said Burke.

Joe Burke and student members

Beyond enjoying each others’ company, they also completed an icebreaker activity. They were given a grid that asked questions such as “Find someone who works at Wolf & Company” or “Find Someone Who Loves Tom Brady.” They could only use a person’s name once and the competition was fierce, for the winners got two free drink tickets.

Winners of the Icebreaker Activity

The drinks and networking flowed, but the attendees also enjoyed great food!

IMG_1874The night ended on a high note with a Red Sox victory 1-0 (MSCPA student membes & young professionals were obviously the good luck charms). Thank you to the event sponsors Suffolk University and Robert Half & Company! You can view more pictures of the event here.


Student Member Spotlight FLASHBACK Edition: Chris Alfieri

Meet Chris Alfieri, diehard Red Sox Fan and former MSPCA Student Member, who met his employer Kevin P. Martin & Associates PC at an MSCPA Career Fair!


1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you grew up? Attended school?
I grew up in Springfield, MA, attended undergrad at Westfield State University and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Accounting.

2. You currently work in audit at Kevin P Martin & Associates PC (KPM) in Braintree. Can you describe your role there and what your job entails?
 I work mostly with Real Estate, Non-Profit, and Film Tax Credit clients throughout the year. Specializing in HUD and A-133 audits. In the process of being promoted to Audit Senior, which has given me more opportunities and responsibilities, going well so far!

3.    What do you like most about your job & why?
The ability to work across different industries on a variety of engagements from start to finish. KPM is a mid size firm, which allows me to work on the planning to the financial statement prep.  It has been a great learning experience and keeps every day interesting. It’s also been a great help studying for the CPA exam, which I plan to take after completing my master’s program.

4.    You were a Student Member of the MSPCA. How did your student membership help you prepare for your career?
I became a student member of the MSCPA my sophomore year of college after attending a MSCPA sponsored meet and greet with a local CPA firm at Westfield State.  The student membership allowed me access to MSCPA special events geared towards undergrads, CPA review study information/tips, current events through SumNews, and most importantly access to the MSCPA Career Fair, where I met up with my current firm KPM.

5.    I also understand while you were a student at Westfield you studied abroad, would you recommend this to current accounting students?
Absolutely. Majoring in Accounting allowed me the flexibility to be able to spend my junior semester in London, England at Westminster University. I was able to take two business related classes and two UK history classes.  Learning about the London economy and even doing some accounting with British pounds was a great learning experience and I recommend everyone at least look into the possibility of spending a semester abroad.

6. You are currently enrolled in an interesting Master’s program; can you describe it to us?
I am currently taking classes in the Master of Science in Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship program at Umass-Lowell.  The goal of the program is to provide engineers, business majors and scientists with the skills and knowledge required to drive innovation in today’s collaborative, global workforce. My upcoming summer class that starts next week is how to appropriately value and finance technology innovations and new ventures, looking forward to it!

7.   What advice would you give current student members for success in their career?
Attend the MSCPA career fair with as many copies of your resume in hand.  It only takes one firm to give you the opportunity to show them what you have to offer. Attend as many accounting related info sessions and networking events as possible. It is a great way to gain insight on the industry and hear firsthand what the accounting profession has to offer.

8.    Outside of accounting what could we find you up to?
Traveling the USA, visiting friends and exploring new places. My normal week of living in Charlestown includes at least one round of golf and a tennis match.  

9. I know you’re a huge Red Sox fan…will they turn it around this season?
Without a doubt the Sox are going to turn it around. They have too much veteran experience and young talent to stay in the basement of the AL East all year. Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will be the heroes in the end.

10. Any parting words?
Find the firm that fits best for your interests. I fell into the trap of thinking the Big 4 was the only way to go before meeting up with the MSCPA. After learning more about the industry and speaking to partners and associates from Big 4 to sole practitioners, I found a great firm that fit my skills the best. Any questions about anything give me a shout at!

The Next Step – MSCPA Workshop at PwC 4/1/2015

First Year Panel

What happens when you gather 44 MSCPA student members eager to advance in their accounting careers? You get the MSCPA Next Step Workshop. This special workshop, organized by the MSCPA and hosted by PwC, was designed for the student who is about to enter the accounting profession. Panel discussions included the different career paths within the profession and what the first year at a firm is really like. HR professionals discussed how to create a favorable impression and students were able to ask questions in a relaxed environment. The evening closed with the students being joined by young accounting professionals for a networking session, compliments of PwC.

MSCPA student member Michael Berry said, “I would advise anyone who wants to be a CPA to come to this event. It makes the whole process seem a lot less scary.”

Bridgewater Sate student Jacueline Mota added, “Returning back to college after 12 years and a family, this seminar/workshop has really motivated and inspired me. I’m leaving with great confidence of a career in accounting”

Lasell College Accounting Students

DSCN1121Thank you to the following volunteers who served on panels and also to the young professionals that joined for networking.

Panel Members:
Accounting Career Paths – What’s Right for You?
Moderator: Kathryn Polak, CPA, CGMA
Public Accounting – Ann-Marie Joseph, CPA – PwC
Industry – Katherine K. Durant, CPA, CGMA – CVS
Nonprofit – Susan Lowe, CPA, CGMA – Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech

Burning Questions for the Firm’s Recruiter
Moderator: Kerry Stakem – PwC
Local Firm: Richard Sullivan, CPA – Powers & Sullivan CPAs
Regional Firm: Kerri M. Catalfamo – DiCicco Gulman & Company LLP
National: Karin Gilmartin – McGladrey

Your First Year at a Public Accounting Firm – What’s It Really Like?
Moderator: David Clarkson – MSCPA Academic & Career Development Committee
Local Firm: Nicolas Astarita – Rucci Bardaro & Falzone PC
Regional Firm: Marquis Cooper – Gray, Gray & Gray LLP
National/International: Eric Pinsoneault, CPA – BDO

MSCPA Student Member Spotlight: Kimberly Moore

A Sophomore On The Rise

headshot31.    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you grew up? Attended school?
I am a sophomore at Bryant University, graduating in May of 2017. I grew up in Agawam, Massachusetts (home of Six Flags New England) and attended Agawam High School. I have an older brother in the Marine Corps and a sister in graduate school studying Occupational Therapy.  

2.    What influenced you to study accounting?
I entered a business school confused about what I wanted to do as far as a long-term career, but I always had a strong interest and talent for math. I took a non-credited career exploration class in the spring of my freshman year and the personality/career test results matched highest with an accounting career. I took financial accounting the following semester (fall of sophomore year), loved it, and declared my major not long after.

3.    What has been your experience with the accounting program at your school?
I am not fully enveloped in the accounting program at my school yet. I have taken financial accounting and am currently enrolled in managerial accounting, both of which have been a great experience. I speak highly of both professors, and am sure they have influenced my passion for accounting since they have been very helpful.

4.    Is there a particular aspect of accounting you like the best & why?
Similar to the question above, I have yet to get a strong enough grasp of all aspects of accounting to be able to gauge which I like the best. I have some interest in auditing, but again, I want a better understanding of all facets of accounting before I make the decision of which I like best.

5.    Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?
I have not had any internships yet however, this summer I will be interning in the Financial Systems department at Mass Mutual in Springfield, Massachusetts. I will also be participating in PwC’s Elevate program in May (The Elevate program is a two-day conference for high-achieving college students interested in learning about a fast-paced career in the professional services industry). I am excited for both experiences and hopefully by the end of the summer I will have a more definitive answer as to what I would like to pursue in the accounting field. 

6.    What advice would you give to those consider studying accounting?
I would advise them to base their decision to study accounting solely on their own self-interest. I have spoken with too many students here at Bryant who have told me they are studying accounting because of the financial benefit associated with the career, or because their parents are accountants and want them to be studying accounting as well. You need to set yourself up for a career that you will be happy with, and that is only going to come from pursuing your own self-interest and no one else’s.

7.    What are your future goals and career plans?
Right now my short-term future goal is to achieve a GPA of 3.5. My long-term future goals and career plans are to become a CPA at one of the big four accounting firms, but more importantly, my plan is to feel satisfied and happy with my career.

8.    Outside of accounting what could we find you up to?
Most of my time consists of taking classes, working and participating in the commitments I am involved with at school. One of my favorite involvements is being a member of the Ways and Means Budgeting Committee because I like having a voice in the decisions regarding the distribution of the Student Involvement Fee. While at home I worked at Panera Bread until recently accepting the internship at Mass Mutual for this summer along with taking two summer classes.

A sophomore with clear goals, actively acheiving them, the future looks bright for Kimberly.

MSCPA Student Member Spotlight: Bryan Brogan

From Marine to Future CPA


            Many accounting students trace their interest in the field back to a high school class or a parent’s occupation. Even a summer job, where they handled cash statements, is often the catalyst. For UMass Dartmouth Senior, Bryan Brogan, the spark for accounting came while serving in the Marines.

MSCPA student member Bryan Brogan grew up in Spencer, MA. He graduated from David Prouty High School in 2009 and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Brogan deployed to Afghanistan and while serving he acquired his taste for accounting. “My job in the Marines was in the fiscal section for supply operations. It involved a lot of accounting and I really enjoyed the responsibility and level of detail it involved,” said Brogan.

Brogan furthered his interest in the field by taking online accounting courses while still in the Marines. He left active duty as a Corporal in 2011 (he was promoted to Sergeant in the Inactive Reserves) and enrolled as an accounting major at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, class of 2015. On choosing UMass Dartmouth Brogan said, “I really enjoy being of part of something growing. I chose UMass Dartmouth because the business program was growing and has continued to build since I’ve been here.”

Bryan continued his studies and got involved both on campus, by joining the accounting club, and becoming an MSCPA Student Member and Campus Ambassador. He said, “The MSCPA’s been great. Every event I attend I learn something useful and get to network with interesting people. I encourage my classmates to become involved with the MSCPA and get the most out of it that they can.”

Now in his final semester, Bryan is completing a tax internship at Ed Sylvia CPA in New Bedford, MA. He advises students seeking an internship to make sure they’ve taken their core accounting courses. “My advice for students (looking for internships) would be to take as many accounting courses early in college as they can. In interviews they like to see that you have a grasp and experience in what they’ll be asking you to do.”

After graduation Brogan plans to earn his MSA, from UMass Amherst online, and join a public accounting firm. However, whether to focus on audit or tax, he’s undecided, “At first I really thought I wanted to go into audit and that’s what I’d focus in. However, with my internship and tax class I’m really getting into tax and want to explore it more.”

In his spare time you can find Bryan hiking with his girlfriend, completing adventure races such as the Tough Mudder or pursuing another passion: cooking. “I love to cook. I like to break that whole stereotype of student’s living off Ramen. I enjoy Italian cooking and just finished a roast I’ve been working on that should last the week,” Brogan said.

A Marine veteran, motivated accounting student, and he cooks, let’s file this one under: going places.


Follow Bryan on Twitter @BCBrogan3  and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Student Member Spotlight: Kevin Wong

Bentley University, Class of 2016

MSCPA Student Ambassador


1.    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you grew up? Attended school?

My name is Kevin Wong. I was born and raised in Malden, MA, right outside of the city. Before coming to Bentley, I went to Malden Catholic High School, where I graduated in 2012.  Currently, I am an undergraduate junior at Bentley University and plan to graduate in May 2016 with my Bachelors of Science in Accounting with a minor in Mathematical Sciences.

2.    What influenced you to study accounting?

After I decided I wanted to go to a business school and did some research on potential majors, I realized that accounting is the language of business. It gives you a highly-respected background coming out of undergraduate school with several job opportunities in a growing industry.

3.    Why does Bentley have such a strong reputation for producing accountants?

Since Bentley was founded in 1917, they have built their academic curriculum based off of their accounting program. Bentley has always been known for molding some of the best accountants in the industry and will continue to do so moving forward. I also have to give credit to our Career Services for always setting up information sessions and events between the students and the Big 4 and other great firms. Networking opportunities is a crucial reason I believe why Bentley alumni go on to have successful careers.

4.    Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?

My first internship was last summer as an audit intern at Safety Insurance in Boston. Some of my duties consisted of preparing formal audit work papers, testing the company’s internal controls, and reviewing SOX key controls. It was a valuable work experience as I gained technical and interpersonal skills along with hands-on exposure in accounting. In summer 2015, I will be interning at Deloitte’s Advisory practice.

5.    Are you excited for you Summer Internship at Deloitte?

Absolutely. Since I chose to major in Accounting, my ultimate goal was to land a full-time offer at a Big 4 firm and it is great to see that all my hard work has paid off. I am thrilled for this opportunity and I plan to make the most out of it.

6.    How has it been serving as the MSCPA Student Ambassador for Bentley?

It has been a great experience so far serving as the Ambassador for Bentley. I have had the opportunity to help out with Chris and Barbara at several events and kept in touch with him throughout the semester. They have been very resourceful when I reached out to them and I look forward to having another great semester with them.

7.    Are you involved in any volunteer activities and what do they mean to you?

I am involved in Bentley Service Learning, where each student must complete 120 volunteer hours before graduation. Last semester, I was assigned a project where I visited a retirement home with my group every week. We met with residents, interviewed them about their lives and submitted a biography at the end of the semester. Volunteering has always kept me humble and to appreciate what I have.

8.    Who would you say your hero is?

I would say my heroes are my parents. They have always set a great example and have been mentors to me my entire life. Both of my parents came from China a couple years before I was born in order to give their children better opportunities at life. They are the reason behind who I am today and I can’t thank them enough.

9.    What are your future goals and career plans?

After I graduate, I plan to do some traveling around the world and have the best summer I can have before I start my career. When I get back, I will pursue my certifications (CPA, CISA, CFE etc.) right away while working full-time. After a few years of working, I plan to apply for a prestigious MBA program such as Harvard.

10.    Outside of accounting what could we find you up to?

I enjoy staying active and photography. Whether it is going for a hike, playing a sport, or going to the gym, I like to keep my body in shape. As for photography, I plan to pursue my first portrait book by taking the best 25 photos I take of Boston and compiling them into one collection. Eventually, I would like to travel the world and take pictures of everywhere I go.

11.    What advice would you give to those who consider studying accounting?

I would say to do some research on the industry and make sure it is their passion along with talking to people they know that are either currently studying or graduated with an accounting degree. Just like any other subject, accounting is not for everyone. Yes, it is a solid career path with high demand in jobs but at the end of the day, anyone should be happy to wake up to go to work every morning.

12.    Any parting advice for future accountants?

I would tell any prospective accountant to work hard, practice interpersonal skills, network, and never miss out on any opportunities. Those are all very important to having a great career in accounting and recruiters are always excited to see students that are motivated and want to become part of their firm.

Student Member Spotlight: Karen Villatoro

MSCPA Student Member and Suffolk Class of 2014


1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you grew up? Attended school?

Hello! My name is Karen Villatoro and I am originally from Massachusetts. I grew up in Chelsea, MA, which is about a 15-20 minute drive outside of Boston. I graduated in 2011 from Chelsea High School. After graduation I wanted to stay close by to home and decided to attend Suffolk University in Boston. My parents are originally from Guatemala and since they were not able to receive a higher education they always encouraged me to continue with my education. I am a part of the first American generation in my family and the oldest out of five children. I was the first person to graduate from high school and this upcoming December of 2014 (a semester earlier than anticipated graduation date) I will become the first person in my family to graduate from college. I will be graduating with a Bachelor’s degree of Science with a major in Accounting and a minor in Information Systems. In my last semester of undergrad I am currently taking 6 courses with a total of 18 credits, working about 30 hours a week (at my internship and as a teaching assistant at school), and I am also on the E-board of Beta Alpha Psi as the Strategic Planning Chair. I work hard every day in order to succeed and make my family proud. I also want to be a great role model in which my younger siblings can look up to.

2. What does it mean to you to be the first person in your family to graduate high school and college?

It is definitely an honor to become the first person in my family to graduate from high school and college. I was able to break the ice and become an example for my younger siblings. I hope that they are able to follow my footsteps and strive for success. My parents had always told me when I was younger that I had to receive as much education as possible in order to strive for success.  I then started to have that mindset of pursuing my education and one day attending college. It now feels like a dream come true.

3. Has this given you a unique perspective or experience in your studies?

It was very difficult at first because my parents did not have any experience in applying for colleges. During high school I did a lot of research on the steps needed to apply for college. I used the resources that were provided in school by spending a lot of time in the guidance office and applying for every scholarship that was available. I also continued to do a lot of research during college to apply for internships. I spent a lot of time in the Career Development Center and gained experience on resume building, cover letters, and job interview skills. I had to explore on my own but I am very fortunate to have these resources available at school. I also appreciate those who have helped and supported me throughout my college years.

4. Can you speak on your experience being an MSCPA Scholarship recipient?

It was a great experience being an MSCPA Scholarship Recipient. I did not think I would win the scholarship but I was fortunate to have won. I am very grateful for getting the opportunity to receive those funds. I was able to pay off the remainder of the private loan that I had for the Spring 2014 semester and also purchase some of my books for the Fall 2014 semester. I was able to network and socialize with many other professionals at the award ceremony (the MSCPA Annual Meeting & Recognition Reception). I would like to thank the MSCPA and CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for making this opportunity possible. After winning the scholarship I started learning more about the MSCPA and started attending some of the events. I have had a great experience as an MSCPA student member.

5. What influenced you to study accounting?

After graduating high school I knew that I wanted to study something in the business field but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. I decided to choose accounting because my favorite subject was Math. I was always at an advanced level in math throughout grade school and high school. When I took my first accounting course I automatically fell in love with the subject and I knew that I had made the right choice. I enjoyed balancing the accounts and learning about the different financial statements.

6. What has been your experience with the accounting program at your school?

I have had a great experience at Suffolk University. I have enjoyed working with professional experts in the accounting field. I learned many new things with the professors I have met. They all have different experiences in accounting, which is nice to learn about when deciding which direction to take in the accounting world. Some of the professors I have met also attended Suffolk so they have once been in my position. Since Suffolk University is in the heart of Boston, there are many job opportunities and extracurricular activities available. Everyone is very supportive and wants to see you succeed.

7. Is there a particular aspect of accounting you like the best & why?

I really enjoy how there are different paths available in the accounting field. You can choose auditing, taxation, consulting, and much more. There isn’t just one direction to take in accounting, if you don’t enjoy one branch of it then there is a chance to switch into another. It all depends on what your interest is. I myself am still trying to figure out which path to take but I would love to learn a little bit of everything.

8. Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?

I am currently interning for a public health consulting company named John Snow Inc. I have been working there for a little over a year now. I manage the cash receipts, review expense reports, and enter journal entries into the accounting system. It has definitely been a great experience there. I love the culture and how friendly everyone is. I felt very welcomed from the start.  

9. What advice would you give to those consider studying accounting?

First of all accounting is definitely a safe career to enter in. Accountants are always needed and that is the main reason why accounting is awesome! But from all jokes aside…I would say that even though everyone thinks that accounting is all about numbers, well it’s really not. Yes, you do need to know how to balance your accounts but that’s just simple addition and subtraction. As I am still learning myself, accounting is a lifelong learning experience. It involves communication skills, critical thinking skills, great writing and presentation skills. These are just a few to name. The reason why it’s not all about math is because you need to learn how to communicate with others and not just trust what anyone says. You always need to think outside of the box and ask many questions. There will be times when you will have to present something to your clients or maybe even send an email or a memo to your boss. It needs to be done in a professional way. If you’re auditing a company, you can’t just accept the answers they give you. Take that extra mile and figure out why the amount of inventory the client said they had doesn’t match the inventory you counted. Has there been fraud involved or is there something they are hiding? These are a few examples in which these skills may be used.

10. What are your future goals and career plans?

Upon graduation, I plan on studying for the CPA exam and hopefully pass all 4 parts before starting grad school. I would like to enroll in the 4+1 program at Suffolk University. This program allows recent Suffolk graduates to complete a Master’s of Science in Accounting or Taxation within 1 year. I plan to start this program in the Fall of 2015.

11. Outside of accounting what could we find you up to?

This is a very tough question to answer. I am always extremely busy and I usually don’t have much time to enjoy myself. The few times I do have available I like to go out and catch up with friends, possibly a movie or dinner. I enjoy meeting new people and volunteering. It might sound boring but I guess there are some things you might have to give up in order to strive for success.

12. What are your favorite places to volunteer or causes?

I usually enjoy supporting the walks for different causes. Some examples include, the Walk for Breast Cancer, ALS Walk, Walk for Hunger, etc. Not only am I supporting these causes but it is also a great exercise.

During my first 3 years at Suffolk University, I was a Corps-Member for Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a nonprofit organization that supports working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Many children from low-income communities start kindergarten at a 60% level behind their peers and continue to stay behind. This results in an increase of high school dropouts, higher criminal rates, and not being able to develop in a higher workforce. This organization tries to decrease this gap by focusing on early education. I was able to work in low-income communities, with children from the ages 3-5, in order to help develop their language and literacy skills. Not only did I enjoy volunteering because I love children, but I was also able to put myself in their shoes. I highly support Jumpstart because I myself grew up in a low-income community.

13. What tips would you have to those that are as busy as you to stay organized?

I would suggest to plan accordingly. I usually use a planner to write down all of my assignments and any upcoming deadlines. It is very helpful because you are able to see which items you might need to currently focus on more than others. It does get hectic and difficult to juggle everything but I would suggest to just hang in there. Remember, “Just like the rainbow after the rain, a good thing will always happen after you experience pain.”

If you would like to be featured in an upcoming Student Member Spotlight let us know!


Student Member Spotlight: Carissa Healey

MSCPA Student Member and Merrimack College Class of 2016

Carissa is also the MSCPA Student Ambassador at Merrimack College!

Carissa Healey picture

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you grew up? Attended school?

My name is Carissa Healey. I grew up in Burlington, which most people know of because of the mall, and I went to Burlington High. I’m a junior at Merrimack College in North Andover working towards my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting.

2. What influenced you to study accounting?

I learned in high school that I really loved numbers when my math courses were my favorite and it’s where I was really excelling. I decided when I was applying to colleges my senior year that I would go to school for accounting and I knew that because of the influence of my mother and grandfather who both work in the field.

3. What has been your experience with the accounting program at your school?

Merrimack’s accounting professors are fantastic. They have incredible knowledge and lots of hands-on experience. I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet and learn from some amazing people before they retired over the past two years. Now, Merrimack has been growing its program and hiring new accounting professors. They may have big shoes to fill but I’m excited to grow with the program over the next year as it makes these changes.

4. Is there a particular aspect of accounting you like the best & why?

I would say the tax aspect of accounting is my favorite as of now because there is endless learning possibilities and it is always changing. However, I hope to get experience with the audit aspect over the next year.

5.    Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?

I will actually be participating in my first full-time Co-Op this spring at Katz, Nannis + Solomon in Waltham. I am eager to get some real life experience and learn from professionals. I will also be working with a fellow Merrimack student and interns from other schools.

6.    What advice would you give to those who consider studying accounting?

My advice to anyone considering a career in accounting is don’t fool yourself. It will take a lot of hard work and time – it can be demanding – but it is rewarding when you reach your goals or you finish a busy season, you will look back and realize how much you have accomplished. If you want a career that you can grow in then definitely choose accounting.

7.    What are your future goals and career plans?

After graduating from Merrimack, I plan on going to graduate school (to be determined where) while taking the CPA exam. I hope to enter the field with an entry level position shortly after graduating.

8.    Outside of accounting what could we find you up to?

I am a very active person. I love playing almost any sport with my friends or family. I would say my favorite hobby is kayaking in the summer, but I recently learned last winter how to snowboard so I am excited to get back on the slope this winter.


If you would like to be featured in a Student Member Spotlight please contact us!