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Meet Mona Hutchinson '16, Accounting
Meet Mona Hutchinson '16, Accounting

Mona is a native Oregonian and registered citizen of the Chickasaw tribe. At the School of Business 2016 Scholarship Reception in May, she moved us with a speech about her decision to return to school four years ago. As a divorced, single mom with two young children, this wasn’t an easy decision, but one she certainly doesn’t regret as she gets ready to graduate with double honors.

Almost immediately after becoming a student, Mona saw a brighter future for her and her children. She is thankful for scholarships which changed her life by making college affordable. During her time at PSU she encountered many students battling and overcoming huge obstacles in order to stay enrolled. Scholarships are life-changing for them as well.

Mona met with us to share some interesting aspects of her personal story.

Why did you decide to study Accounting and pursue a career in this field?

There were several reasons. I have always held an affinity towards finance and really enjoy the practicality of accounting. Every company, organization, and agency needs accountants to function. and that really appeals to me. I also like the flexibility of this career being transferable across industries and organizations.

How was your experience as a non-traditional student at PSU? 

One of the aspects that I love about PSU is their very diverse student body. The diversity is widespread in regards to culture, age, backgrounds, and general life experiences. As a non-traditional student who is a single mother, this would have been much harder if this was not here. I am not an anomaly on campus and while one of my best accounting friends is a traditional student, it is nice that I can see my demographic represented.

Do you think student organizations help students prepare for their future careers? 

I myself was VP of Membership with Beta Alpha Psi in 2015 and this group was instrumental in helping me understand how to network and become a better professional. They also help students with recruiting and I know many people who would not have received internships or jobs offers, myself included, without their guidance.

How did you cope with so many extracurricular activities? Which of them did you enjoy the most?

Honestly, I am not quite sure. Overall, I would say it was a gradual build up. I try to challenge myself and find I can’t do things half-measure. I have also found that if I place myself in challenging situations, I develop in a much more meaningful way. This is part of how I have been able to grow professionally and personally. Of course, I have had to let a few things go. I can’t do everything. Sometimes my house is a mess (usually around mid-terms and finals), I don’t have much time to socialize, and I don’t do most of the activities I used to before I started school, but life is full of tradeoffs. I have had to cut back on some things in school as well.

In the 2014/2015 school year I was enrolled in both Urban Honors and the SBA Honors Track and working two jobs. It became clear it was too much and I knew I would burn out if I kept going at that rate. I left the Urban Honors and the second job, which was a hard decision to make, but I wanted to be able to excel at what I was doing, not trying to do everything mediocrely.

Also as a single mother, I felt that I really needed to prioritize time with them. At the end of the day, the biggest reason I went back to school was to provide a better life for them. When I look back at my years in school I know I made good choices along the way.

Being part of the Dean’s Future Leaders Group has been one my favorite extracurricular activities. The group is really diverse and every time I meet with them I feel like I learn something new. We strive to be honest and supportive in our communication which creates a really positive experience. The group celebrates each other’s accomplishments and it has been satisfying to see the group’s growth and students achieving their individual goals over the last two years. Additionally, Erica Wagner, the facilitator to this group is amazing. I have learned much under her mentorship.

What are your career plans after graduation?

A week after I graduate with my bachelors degree, I will be working full-time at my internship with PwC in the audit/assurance line of service until late August. Then I will have a break for a couple of weeks and plan on spending nearly all of it with my children. I have been accepted into PSU’s Masters of Science in Financial Analysis (MSFA) graduate program. This will help me fulfill the CPA exam requirements so I can sit for the exams. I plan to spend 2016/2017 enrolled and completing the MSFA program while concurrently taking the four state CPA board exams. I am hopeful to start my professional career as a CPA with PwC right after the MSFA program is completed.

>> Learn more about the Portland State undergraduate accounting program here.