Catia Kelly

My name is Catia Kelly and in May 2017, I received two Bachelor of Science degrees from FSU; Accounting and Banking & Finance.

Catia KellyHow has FSU supported your success?

My family immigrated to the U.S. from Portugal when I was five years old and neither my father nor my mother graduated from high school. While my parents encouraged my going to college after high school, they didn't really have the ability to express the importance. At the age of 21 I joined the military as a combat medic, and served for nearly seven years. In 2011, I separated from the military after losing my husband in Afghanistan and moved to the Fort Bragg area. After taking a year off, I decided to use my GI Bill and further my education at FSU. The transition was a bit difficult for me but Admissions helped me through the process.

Upon choosing Accounting as my degree, the College of Business and Economics became my home away from home. Dr. Taylor became a mentor to me; allowing me to knock on his door whenever I needed. He encouraged me to pursue FSU's dual enrollment program in Accounting and Banking & Finance and set me up so that I could complete both degrees simultaneously. He also spoke to me, at length, about career options, graduate school and even Ph.D programs. I had similar experiences with all of my professors at FSU; informing me about internships, workshops, etc. There were points in my academic career at FSU where I was unable to find childcare for my son. Dr. Bible, who taught a night class I was required to take for my degree, worked with me to ensure that I was able to complete my coursework despite my family situation. If my son was sick and could not go to childcare, professors worked with me so that I wouldn't miss coursework and fall behind because they truly cared about my (and all other student's) academic success.

Professors at FSU provided me with an education that exceeded traditional coursework to ensure that I was well prepared for the future. For example, Dr. Williams had us demonstrate our business writing skills when answering problems as part of our grade explaining that, "You can have the right answer but if you don't sound intelligent when you are giving the right answer, people are going to doubt you." Professor Bryant used his law classes to enhance critical reasoning skills because in law, "their might not be a right or wrong answer, but if you can intelligently defend your position, you will get the points."

During my senior year, I was able to serve as the FSU Accounting Society Secretary. This was, by far, one of the most influential experiences I had at FSU. The Accounting Society is the FSU Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). Every fall, FSU's Accounting Society participates in the NABA Southern Regional Conference in Atlanta, GA. The conference enables students to meet with firms, interview for positions, and attend professional workshops. In preparation for this event the Accounting Society does resume, professional dress, interview, and other workshops in order to prepare students for success. Through my networking I received two interviews for rotations. I did not get a position but I was able to network with dozens of firms and peers from other institutions. I spoke to a recruiter from NC State's Master of Accounting program at the convention. I had spoken to him one time prior, when he was a guest speaker at one of our Accounting Society meetings. During my senior year, I applied to NC State and was given an interview and the recruiter that was at the NABA convention was the person interviewing me. All of the experience I gained through the Accounting Society allowed me to be on my game and I was eventually accepted with a scholarship.

I am currently in my first semester at NC State and Dr. Taylor is still sending me emails about opportunities. That is the kind of support I received from FSU. They truly, truly care about their students.

What is the one thing you'd like prospective students to know about FSU?

There are so many organizations and events at FSU. Don't just go to class and go home; stay, get engaged, open up, become a leader. The college experience is still amazing, even if you are a non-traditional student. Get out there! Pledge. Run for office. Compete. Attend seminars. FSU has it all for you. Take advantage of it!

What are your plans for the future?

After graduation, I plan on obtaining my Ph.D in Accounting so that I can become a professor at an HBCU.What is your passion?I love to cook. Watching people enjoy my food makes my heart swell. I have been doing it since my Army days. Friends would chip in on groceries and pack into the barracks kitchen to eat. At FSU, I would cook at home and share with friends. Tinisha Tucker, in particular, placed specific request and still has some of my containers. (Just in case she ever reads this.)