When I graduated from high school in St. Augustine, I thought an out-of-town college was the place for me. So I enrolled in another university elsewhere in the state. It was an eye-opening experience.
I was a business major and was put into on-line courses with 1,500 other students. I would spend my entire day in the room of my residence hall watching on-line courses. I was miserable. One time I went to see one of my professors and explained I was having difficulty with a particular aspect of the course. He took the time to answer my questions, but when I went back a week later he didn’t even remember me because he had so many students in his class. Finally my mother asked me why was I spending so much money on room and board to get that kind of education. That’s when I decided to come to UNF and it proved to be the right decision for me.
I love the smaller classes at UNF and the individualized attention from professors. I know all of my professors and they know me. Just coming to UNF was a transformational experience for me compared to my previous university.
At UNF I continued with my accounting classes. I’ve always loved working with numbers. Maybe that is because in accounting, there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything and not a lot of gray areas. Whatever the reason, I’ve thrived at UNF and have been fortunate to obtain two internships.
My internship with Dixon Hughes, a Jacksonville public accounting firm, has been very rewarding. At Dixon Hughes I’ve been able to visit clients to plan and perform audits.
One thing I’ve learned at UNF is the value of networking. For example, I was the recipient of a scholarship from the Florida chapter of the Tax Executives Institute. The funder of the scholarship, J & J Vision Care, sent a representative to a scholarship luncheon. Because of the contact I made at the luncheon, I was eventually offered another internship, this one with J & J Vision Care. I’m looking forward to it because I will experience in the corporate tax side of accounting.
Because of the scholarship assistance I’ve received, I’m able to consider graduate school. I want to continue at UNF and obtain my master’s degree in accounting. I know the graduate school is excellent because my older sister graduated from UNF with an M.B.A.
And speaking of sisters, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the story about my younger sister, Katie, who in 2010 was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Being 17-years-old and a senior in high school, this was truly a nightmare. Instead of worrying about what to wear to homecoming like most kids her age, she worried about survival itself.
During that time I missed a lot of school. I was juggling an internship, four classes and most importantly, Katie. I tried to make it to every appointment she had, so something had to give. I talked with my professors, who completely understood what my family was going through. I would simply send them an e-mail letting them know I wasn’t going to make it and I would later go to their office hours to see what I missed. They were extremely understanding and sincere and I’m very grateful for their help. By the way, after a couple rounds of chemotherapy, Katie is cancer free and getting back to being a teenager again.
For all these reasons, UNF has truly been the answer to my prayers. One day I hope to help students achieve their goals just as UNF has helped me achieve mine.