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College student thrives in Foundation programs

Written on May 1, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Kayla_KeysGuidance during a college career can come from parents, mentors and even peers. For Kayla Keys, it came from The Ohio CPA Foundation.

“It’s amazing to see how much I’ve grown as a professional,” said the University of Akron senior.

Keys has attended ACAP-Ohio as a high schooler, ACLA as a college student and is now part of OSCPA’s college ambassador program. She said she’s always been outgoing and involved in a variety of different organizations throughout her academic career, but attributes much of her professional skillset growth, such as networking, to her Foundation program experience.

“If I’m sitting in class, I am introducing myself to the teacher to let them know I’m going to be engaged,” she said. “Even as a student, that gives you the opportunity to be engaged as a professional, because you get so many more opportunities through those connections.”

Keys found her way to accounting through her passion for dance. While searching for a major that would lead to a stable career, she thought she could work as an accountant for a dance studio.

From there she considered other career paths, like becoming a budget analyst for a local arts program, but now would like to work for a public accounting firm that specializes in nonprofits.

“I’m trying to find a way to stimulate my education but stay connected to what I really love, which is the arts, children and nonprofits,” Keys said.

While attending the various Foundation programs, Keys said she began to recognize familiar faces and found a community of support along with invaluable connections. Those connections have served as a helpful sounding board for her career decisions once she graduates.

“Everyone has a different opinion and I’ve been learning from them all and analyzing what works best for me,” she said.

The Foundation programs Keys has attended are available at no cost to the students who attend, which she said made all the difference.

“I come from a low-income family,” she said. “I would not be able to pay for experiences like these. So, for me to benefit from this and not having to pay for it means so much.”

Keys said she’s excited for her time as a college ambassador this school year and to speak with students who might not know about the opportunities available to them with accounting. She said she can relate to feeling unsure of what steps to take in your future.

“It’s not always about looking for something,” Keys said. “It’s about putting yourself out there and connecting with people, which is what I’ve learned from OSCPA.”