Ashley Knode '21

Major:  Accounting

Featured Activity:  Vice President of Membership, Phi Gamma Nu

Hometown:  La Plata, MD

Current Employment:  Program Analyst at Cotton & Company LLP in Alexandria, VA

“My Eberly story begins with choosing Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) as my college destination.  Early on I knew I wanted to major in accounting.   Eberly College of Business stood out to me due to their AACSB Accreditation and impressive reputation.  The IUP Campus was ideal in size, being that it has a smaller campus, but still had a larger student body.  In addition, IUP was also only five hours away from my hometown, which was not too far, but far enough to allow me to gain independence. 

As a freshman, I entered the Business Honors Program in Eberly College of Business.  This opportunity allowed me to meet some of my closest friends, spending every semester partaking in some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my college career.  The Business Honors Program provided me with amazing opportunities such as field trips, networking, and participating in business competitions and semester projects.  I was elected as one of the three cohort leaders for this program during my junior year and remained active until graduation.  This role gave me the opportunity to form better relationships with the Business Honors Directors and provided me with an occasion to share opinions and ideas for the future. 

I also joined the Student Accounting Association (SAA) as a freshman, where I later took on the role of Special Events Chair in my junior year.  This organization introduced me to countless alumni and showcased the various routes students can take after graduating with a bachelor’s in accounting.  The SAA is a student organization I would encourage all accounting majors to get involved with because of the amazing connections you can make, and the numerous opportunities presented to start your career.

Phi Gamma Nu is a student business organization promoting professional competency and achievement in the many fields of business. I was the first “first-semester freshman” to be accepted into Phi Gamma Nu in Eberly College of Business.  This was groundbreaking for me personally.  Soon after, Phi Gama Nu began to accept more first-semester freshman with open-arms.  Being surrounded by so many upperclassmen allowed me to learn from my peers, providing countless connections and mentorship opportunities.  I was appointed as Vice President of Membership during my junior year.  In this position, I guided potential new members through their initiation process while preparing them for full membership through weekly meetings and activities.  I also organized induction and initiation ceremonies, created, and administered weekly quizzes, oversaw the final exam for nationals, and acted as a liaison between new and current members. 

Getting involved in various organizations throughout my freshman year was the best decision I could have made.  It allowed me to meet people within my major and become familiar with Eberly’s students and staff.  At IUP I also worked in the Office of Annual Giving as a phonathon caller, which gave me the chance to network with IUP Alumni and strengthen my soft skills over my four-year college career.  After two years, I was promoted to student supervisor, where I was granted the opportunity to evaluate caller performance and report results to our managers daily.  I was also in charge of training and coaching new employees to ensure high success rates, while helping new employees feel comfortable in their new roles. 

Balancing my involvement and holding several leadership roles, while working part-time and being a faultier student, certainly had its challenges, but also came with many rewards and benefits.  My experiences at IUP pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me responsibility, organization, and the strong importance of communication. 

The summer following my junior year I completed my first internship with Cotton & Company LLP, where I was offered a faultier program analyst position upon my graduation in May of 2021 in Alexandria, VA.  I am so proud of acquiring a faultier job in my field, before the start of my senior year, at a place where I can grow personally and professionally.  My overall college goal was to secure a job that I was passionate about upon graduation; I am ecstatic to say I accomplished just that! If it were not for an Eberly alumnus at a networking event, I would never have known about this firm.  I owe much of my success to embracing Eberly and all the great experiences and opportunities that come with it. 

While I have accomplished a great deal during my time at IUP, the one triumph that trumps the others is battling and beating cancer my senior year.  After having health concerns for two years, I was officially diagnosed with a rare form of soft-tissue cancer in August of 2020.  I had to quickly undergo a series of tests, invasive surgeries, and treatments.  During this time, I was still completing my summer internship, taking Fall classes, and maintaining my memberships through leadership positions and preparing myself to graduate.  I am so proud to overcome of these obstacles; it has shown me what I really am capable of.  I am strong both mentally and physically.”