Erin McGrathI am from Westminster, Maryland.

As a Crimson Guide, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is why I chose IUP as I am from out of state, and to this question I have three different reasons. The first, and primary, reason I found out about IUP was through cross country and track and field. I had the opportunity to be recruited to continue to participate in the sport that had brought me joy throughout all of high school on the NCAA D2 level. However, after attending a campus tour and meeting with the coach, I had so many other reasons telling me this would be my home for the next four years.

When I stepped onto campus, I felt at home. This felt like a place where you would be challenged, but not stomped on. In other words, IUP was a place where you get out of it what you put in, without the overzealous competition of peers that attempt to thwart your own success but rather support it. The ability to be involved in clubs and organizations was also a huge motivation as well as the distance from home and size of the campus. I was just far enough away from home that I could go home for the weekend, but it gave me the independence where I wouldn’t want to make the drive very often. A simple cherry on top was the combination of the AACSB accreditation that Eberly has and the extensive alumni network, setting both Eberly and IUP apart from many of the other schools that I looked at.

While I have been enrolled at IUP, I have had the opportunity to be involved in so many different organizations. Within Eberly, I have been a part of the Student Accounting Association, the Student Managed Investment Portfolio, a COBSAC representative, an economics tutor, and a part of the Eberly Business Honors program. Outside of Eberly, I have had the opportunity to be a part of the Cook Honors College, the women’s cross country and track and field teams, the Crimson Guides, an IUP Ambassador, and a member of Reformed University Fellowship. While this may seem like a daunting list, it is the people on IUP’s campus that have motivated me to become a part of all these different groups and made it possible to give my all in many areas.

Everyone at IUP, ranging from students to staff to professors to alumni, work together to create a culture and environment where they want everyone to succeed and give motivation to be who you are and do what you want to do to succeed.

Two other experiences also shaped my time at IUP; the ability to get to know professors was a crucial part of me choosing a second major and getting opportunities off campus. During a career fair lunch in my sophomore year, I had the pleasure of sitting with Dr. James Jozefowicz, who is otherwise known as Dr. J by many students. I was having a conversation with an alumnus about not knowing what I wanted to do to get the rest of my 150 credits apart from accounting to qualify for the CPA. I mentioned how I wasn’t sure finance was the route I wanted to take, and Dr. J kindly butted in asking about other interests. It was here I mentioned how I had liked the economics principles classes, and the rest was history.

After that lunch, I received a personalized email from Dr. J asking to set up a meeting about learning about the economics major. From there I was fortunate enough to be a part of the econometrics class, where I got to work on a full research paper that I could present to any future employer as a great example of something that I have worked on.

Another professor that has greatly impacted my experience at IUP is Dr. Kim Anderson. Dr. Anderson kindly took me under her wing when a former advisor did not know how the Cook Honors College courses worked. Through my time with Dr. Anderson as my advisor, I have gotten placed in the Business Honors program, applied for and received several scholarships, become the president of the SAA, and interviewed for an internship at EY that has led to a full-time job. Dr. Anderson played a huge role in helping me find opportunities and challenge myself to be the best student and person that I can be. Without the help of these two professors, and many other professors and staff, my experience at IUP would not have been what it turned out to be, and for that I am forever grateful.

Within Eberly, I have had two different organizations in which I have stepped up. The first of these organizations is the Student Accounting Association. Since my very first semester, I have been a member of the SAA. The opportunity to hear from alumni on a regular basis and directly interact with them after meetings and through other events was simply invaluable to me. I knew early on that I wanted to be a leader in this organization and get to play a part in who came to speak on campus. During 2022, I had the pleasure of becoming president and helping at various events, including at meetings, the annual recognition dinner, and the Accounting and Finance Career Fair. Within this role, I had to help find speakers for our meetings, run meetings, speak to over 200 students, alumni, and staff at our recognition dinner, and work the career fair, as well as being a figurehead to other organizations and individuals who were looking to contact accounting majors.

The other Eberly organization I am particularly passionate about is the Student Managed Investment Portfolio. During the summer of 2020, I was approached to pick up the chief compliance officer role for the portfolio. I’ll be honest, when I was asked, I had no clue what the organization did, but after a brief description I thought that it would be a great way to get more involved in Eberly, so I said yes. I didn’t realize that this organization would be what made my involvement in Eberly elevated from what I had already experienced. SMIP manages a portion of the endowment for the Foundation for IUP as real-world experience similar to that in the industry. Money from this fund is taken by the Foundation and put toward scholarships for students. As CCO, I am tasked with maintaining the code of ethics and regulations from the FIUP as well as being the intermediary with the FIUP. Through my time in this organization, I have been challenged by meetings with both the investment committee and the FIUP Board of Directors meetings, as well as challenges regarding compliance and the code of ethics. The lessons I learned through this organization and the responsibilities I have held as a compliance officer will shape how I interact with my future employers and has given me insight into the working world as well as a unique understanding that I would not have gotten elsewhere.

While enrolled in IUP, as described in the prior questions, I have been particularly proud of the time I have put into a variety of different organizations. With my time and dedication to these extracurriculars, I obtained three internships starting in the summer after my sophomore year. These internships resulted in a full-time job offer before I even started my senior year. During the interviews for all these internships, it was always the extracurriculars that employers wanted to hear about, very rarely asking about coursework.

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, and throughout my junior year, I had the opportunity to intern at S&T Bank in their credit department. Here was my first real job where I had to work in an office in the business world. Having to participate in meetings and group projects gave me a good insight into my future and how a business works as well as skills with financial statements that I otherwise would not have had. This past summer I interned at Ernst and Young in assurance in Pittsburgh. I got to work directly with staff and senior auditors as well as fellow interns to work on company audits tasked with a variety of things, including testing controls and working on audit placemats. Seeing the steps within the audit process in person instead of during class gives me great excitement as I finish out my studies and get to start working. While the internship at EY happened in the summer, I knew I didn’t want to stop learning and experiencing at any point. Prior to this internship, I had the opportunity to speak with an alumnus from Cohen and Co. prior to an SAA meeting.

During this interaction, I was not interviewing, but simply welcoming him to campus and making conversation. After the meeting, I received an email about their internships, and I decided that continuing to learn after my EY internship would be the best way to keep my skills sharp. While this internship will not start till the spring, I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to grow in my professional experiences before starting full-time at EY in the fall of 2023. Without the time spent on extracurriculars, I do not think I would have received the internships. Without these internships, I do not think I would have accepted a full-time job offer 10 months before I graduated. As this full-time job opportunity would not have happened without the work that I have put in over the past four years, it is the accomplishment I am most proud of as the culmination of all of my efforts.

As a part of the Cook Honors College, community service of 40 hours a year is part of the requirement to continue to be a part of the program. While this was technically a requirement, service has always been very important to both in my life and the life of those around me. Throughout my first three years at IUP, I was a part of the cross country and track and field teams. With this organization we placed an emphasis on service, hosting meets for the high schools, helping with the local Special Olympics branch, helping with the annual Thomas Moore book sale, and having annual 24-hour Make-A-Wish relays to raise money for various organizations. Over the past year, I have also had the opportunity to be a part of the IUP Ambassadors. Our service here relates more closely to the university. Through the IUP Ambassador program, I have had the opportunity to help with Homecoming, the marching band reunion dinner, alumni speaker days, alumni tours, and so much more.

Outside of my work at IUP, I have continued to be involved in my community at home with two organizations, Rita’s Closet and my high school track team. Rita’s Closet is a not-for-profit organization in Westminster, Maryland, that sells donated dresses for discounted prices to girls all around the county and state. The money that is raised through these sales goes towards scholarships to graduating senior high school girls every year. I have had the pleasure to volunteer at Rita’s Closet since my senior year of high school, whether it is helping my mom make decorations, running the cash register, modeling for their website, or just steaming and tagging dresses in the back room on a busy day.

The other organization I have stayed involved in at home is my high school track team. While I no longer run for IUP due to personal injuries, I have had the pleasure to work with students at my high school. I help time workouts, run with some of the girls, or even just talk to the students who are currently going through injuries. As someone who has been fortunate to not have many hardships in life, I find that giving back to my community in different ways is one of the best ways to spend what free time I have as a student. The people I have met during these experiences have truly shaped me to be the person that I am today.

I come from a high school in which 90 percent of the student population is caucasian. Coming to IUP, it has been a pleasure to interact with students of all different backgrounds and cultures. As an IUP Ambassador, we focus a part of every meeting on diversity events that are happening around campus. Attending different events like drag bingo, reading the Social Equity and Title IX Newsletter, Six O’ Clock Series, and just staying in tune with what is happening in the community has helped me to branch out my own understanding of others.

As the president of the Student Accounting Association for 2022, we have placed a focus on bringing in diverse alumni in the field to speak to students. This semester we brought in Michael Peterson in September and Debra Evans Smith in November. Both of these alumni greatly appreciated our invitation to come to campus. As quoted in the Eberly 2022 Highlights, Peterson said “We really enjoyed starting our day off with the tour of Eberly, and I appreciated the diversity at lunch, and I hope that IUP continues to offer that face time to their students of color.” Smith discussed the challenges she faced as a Black woman working in a profession dominated by white men and how she overcame these challenges and worked her way up in the FBI to deputy assistant director. Hearing from both of these very successful professionals and the challenges they have had to overcome continues to amaze me and motivate me to stay aware of what is happening in my surroundings.

At Eberly, I have found a place that both challenges you and gives you the opportunity to grow. Through encouraging involvement and giving countless opportunities to network with other students, professors, alumni, and business professionals, the experience at Eberly is something special. I came to college not knowing what route I wanted to take, and through the relationships I have made at Eberly, I am leaving with a clear path and countless opportunities ahead.

As a part of the IUP Ambassadors, I have had the opportunity to work directly with the Alumni Association and the countless alumni that they bring in. After graduation, I hope to attend many of the networking events that IUP hosts to continue interacting with IUP students and to offer opportunities in any way that I can. Speaking to the SAA as a young alumna would be a dream come true as I have looked up to the chosen speakers for my entire college career. I also plan to stay in the area for a few years so that I can continue to enjoy the environment of the town, where the students definitely shine outside of campus.