After reflecting on the last three and a half years of my life, there were many experiences that shaped my successful academic career and my future career goals. I am fortunate enough to say that my college experience has afforded me multiple friendships that will last forever. There are countless activities and societies that I have been a part of that is the catalysts for forging these friendships. Some of these activities and groups I am referring to include the Bridgewater College Football Team, the Philomathes Society, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, and Intramurals.
Along with the countless activities and organizations that Bridgewater offers, its size has definitely played a vital role in the number of relationships I was able to forge with students and professors. It is true that leaving home and going off to college is a new and exciting experience that takes a bit of time to get used to, but I truly feel that Bridgewater eased that transition with an inviting and comfortable setting. Also, I feel that many of my friendships were molded in the first two weeks I was at Bridgewater, which was the time of football camp leading into my freshman year. Therefore, I believe that Bridgewater’s small size contributed to the lasting relationships I have developed by allowing me to be more than a number in activities and the classroom. I was surprised at the number of relationships immediately forged, because Bridgewater has a smaller student population than several other universities that I was considering attending. Now that I have discussed how Bridgewater’s size has contributed to my college experience, I will now explore and analyze how several other aspects of college life have contributed to the experience and laid the foundation for my future.
The first aspect to look at when exploring my college experience is intellectual discovery, which played a vital role in developing my future life and career goals. I think it is worth mentioning that I first came into Bridgewater undecided, and my plan was to take several general education courses to see if any particular area sparked my interest. My entire freshman year consisted of courses that would fill general education requirements, and when it was all said and done, no particular area intrigued me enough to mold my academic career around it. This is when I reverted back to one of my favorite classes I ever attended, and that was an accounting class in high school. Once I made it official and declared my major at the end of my freshman year as Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting, it was time to load my schedule with accounting and business classes during my sophomore year. Some of my greatest and most extensive projects I have ever worked on were completed in the required classes for my major. One of these fulfilling projects that I was particularly proud of was a forty-page business plan that was created in Survey of Business, and is included as one of my artifacts. As a group, we developed a plan for a start-up company in Harrisonburg, VA. This plan consisted of a brewery that would set itself apart by offering a delivery system of kegs to people in the Harrisonburg area. Therefore, this project was very successful when it comes to creativity and the ability to work well with a group.
Continuing the topic of extensive and fulfilling projects brings me to my next example of an assignment that greatly contributed to my intellectual growth and discovery. I included an Excel spreadsheet from Intermediate Accounting as a bonus artifact, in order to display my tremendous growth as an accountant. The assignment required us to make journal entries, including adjusting journal entries, and then create financial statements based on the figures from the accounts. I felt it was necessary to include this project as an artifact, because it displays my practical knowledge in the accounting field. This project consisted of many accounting functions and techniques that I am likely to encounter as I embark on my career path.
When discussing intellectual growth and discovery, I think it is important to analyze my academic career in terms of my GPA. I am proud to say that my hard work and diligence has translated to a cumulative GPA of 3.82 after the fall semester of my senior year. I saw a bit of what I consider to be a downfall in the spring semester of my freshman year, which happened to be the only semester I missed the Dean’s List by a small margin. After not being named to the Dean’s List in the spring semester of my freshman year, I became determined to strive to make this a goal of mine for every semester to come. Ultimately, I am proud to announce that I have been named to the Dean’s List in six out of seven semesters during my academic career at Bridgewater. Therefore, it is safe to say that not making the Dean’s List in spring of my freshman year gave me the incentive and made me that much more persistent for the rest of my college career.
Along with being named to the Dean’s List for the majority of my time at Bridgewater, I am also proud to say that I have fulfilled the convocation requirement every semester I have spent at Bridgewater. At first, I will admit that I attended convocations just to receive credit, but as I matured it became more about hearing stories and being exposed to ideas that I was not familiar with. The convocations have afforded me the opportunity to hear from interesting guest speakers, such as the actual coach that the movie Remember the Titans is based on. Also, after attending musical convocations, my horizon of musical genres has been broadened. Basically, my openness to new ideas and cultures has really allowed my to fully enjoy the convocation experiences that are offered at Bridgewater College.
Other important aspects of my intellectual growth and discovery at Bridgewater include an improvement in time management skills and prioritizing tasks. Both concepts are essential in the profession I am pursuing, so I am appreciative that Bridgewater afforded me the opportunity to better these skills through extensive projects and papers. The most efficient way I complete assignments in a timely manner is by working on projects and papers during the day as soon as I get out of class, instead of waiting until nighttime when there are a lot of distractions, such as sporting events to watch on television. This also prevents me from succumbing to the desire to procrastinate, because I make a conscious effort to begin working on assignments the same day they are assigned. It is evident to me that this was a huge change from my tendencies in high school, because that was a time when I was famous for waiting until the absolute last minute to complete my homework. Therefore, the extensive workload I have received at Bridgewater has really fostered my ability to complete assignments in a timely manner, and prioritize which assignments need to be completed first.
It was fairly easy for me to integrate an artifact where time management was necessary, because I just completed an extensive project that took the entire semester during fall of my senior year. The project was assigned in the class Financial Statement Analysis, and consisted of analyzing past financial statements of the company Cisco Systems. Along with analyzing past financial statements, we put data into a model that generated an estimated price per share of the company and forecasted the future growth rates of the company. Basically, the depth of this project required an ongoing and diligent approach, because the project would have been practically impossible if we waited until the last minute. This project is just one example of how improving time management has made my academic career more fulfilling, and will ultimately make my career in accounting more successful.
Before wrapping up the topic of intellectual growth and discovery, I wanted to pick out an artifact that displays a comparison of how my train of thought now stacks up with that of my freshman year. Therefore, I included the final paper from PDP during my freshman year, which was a joint research paper with a fellow classmate. In my section of the paper, I argued that individual choices play the largest role in affecting the life path one will travel. More specifically, I was referring to individual choices leading to poverty. As I sit and ponder on the topic today, I still feel the same about my argument almost four years later. In fact, some of my experiences at Bridgewater have actually validated my argument that I made during my freshman year. For instance, I have seen several classmates take the approach, “C’s get degrees”, and ultimately this choice led to a lower GPA than what the individual was actually capable of obtaining. Obviously this example is on a smaller scale compared to poverty, but I think the overall concept goes hand in hand.
Another aspect that is necessary to explore when reminiscing on my last several years at Bridgewater College is the concept of academic citizenship and community responsibility. After dissecting the first part of this concept, I concluded that academic citizenship refers to the desire to obtain as much knowledge as possible, even if some of that knowledge will not even be relevant in the field of my future profession. Also, when it comes to academic citizenship and community responsibility, it is important to promote learning for others around you and not distract others’ ability to obtain knowledge. Even though my mother has always said to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, it was not until I attended Bridgewater that I really appreciated this concept. After reflecting on the classes I have taken, it is clear that I can attribute a generous portion of my openness to the general education courses we are required to take at Bridgewater. One of which directly relates to the concept of promoting and maintaining an environment where others around you can effectively learn something they did not know before. The class I am referring to is Violence and Peace in Religion, of which I included an artifact that displays my ability to lead a class in a discussion and efficiently analyze a reading assignment. I thought the assignment was worth including in this reflection, because that assignment definitely improved my leadership skills and my ability to dig deeper than the surface of the reading.
As I mentioned earlier, Bridgewater has really engrained in me the importance of obtaining as much knowledge as possible, even if the topic will not necessarily impact my performance in the accounting profession. The reason I bring this up is because I took a very interesting class in the fall, which was called Cultures of Africa. At the beginning of the semester, the professor stressed the importance of knowledge and taking advantage of what is offered to us in college. This idea really hit home for me because I pondered on the fact that some people do not get to experience this opportunity. Therefore, I felt that it was necessary to include the semester research paper for this class as one of my artifacts.
Dating back to my high school years, I have tried to put an emphasis on community involvement, and I made a conscious effort to continue that trend during my college years. I have been a guest speaker at a youth basketball camp that was hosted by my alma mater, Goochland High School. Also, I was a guest speaker at a youth football camp that was held by the Beaverdam Youth Athletic Association. I find it important to speak to athletes in their youth, because I can relate since I was in their shoes not all that long ago. Not only can I relate to the position they are in, but they are also more inclined to listen to someone that is older who went through similar experiences they are having. With that said, it is definitely a goal of mine to become a little league football or basketball coach when I get to a comfortable position in my professional accounting career.
Another example of community involvement is derived from my affiliation with Becker Review, which is a review course company that focuses on helping college graduates pass the CPA exam. I am proud to be in the position of Campus Ambassador for Bridgewater College, because I am in charge of distributing marketing materials to accounting students at Bridgewater. This encourages them to sign up with Becker when they are ready to start studying for the CPA exam. Also, if any of the students have questions then they can come to me, and if I do not know the answer then I have several direct sources that will provide me with the answer. Therefore, this is a fulfilling position because it adds to my responsibilities during my time at Bridgewater College.
It is also worth mentioning that I have made an effort to become more knowledgeable about national issues such as topics revolving around the U.S. government. I think it is very important for students in college to have a solid understanding of what political positions they stand for. Those that do not understand what they are even voting for are not doing the community any favors. With that said, I felt it was important to include an essay from Microeconomics as a bonus artifact. The topic for this essay was to research aspects of the Affordable Care Act, also know as ObamaCare. I enjoyed researching this topic, because it definitely gave me a better understanding of a national issue that many people have a strong position on one way or the other. Basically, I am trying to say that those who are oblivious to political issues are not positively impacting their community by voting. Therefore, I will be sure to obtain an extensive understanding about who or what I am voting for in the future.
Along with the two aspects I have already discussed, it is important to spend some time focusing on how ethical development has impacted me as a student and as a person. From my point of view, ethical development refers to several ideas. One meaning of ethical development is one’s ability to incorporate other’s ideals and being open to what others stand for, without necessarily compromising what you as an individual stand for. Also, I think ethical development includes how effective an individual is at building relationships with peers and professors. The reason I think this concept is related to ethical development is because relationships are built on trust, so if an individual has good morals and values then that is directly related to the type of relationships he or she is able to create and build on.
When I saw the topic ethical development, I immediately thought about the honor code that Bridgewater College stresses in the classroom and on the campus as a whole. I was raised valuing the importance of trust, so Bridgewater has really stressed the maintenance of this value throughout my academic career. Also, I really believe that it is very important for students to complete their own work, without the aid of an outside source such as a person or a cheat sheet unless the professor permits it. I have had this conversation with multiple people, and the reason I am so adamant that people should do their own work is because if you do not know how to complete the task at hand now, then you definitely will not know how to do it when you are in the workforce. Therefore, I am serious about doing my own work, because I want to know what I am doing when I am pursuing my career in accounting.
It is definitely evident that I have demonstrated exemplary values, because of the relationships that I have developed with my professors. I felt that it was necessary to include a letter of recommendation as a bonus artifact in order to display how my professors have perceived me. My accounting professor, Tom Rosengarth, wrote the letter of recommendation that I included as a bonus artifact, in which he recommended me for the internship that I was fortunate enough to have this past summer. I included this artifact, because it shows how professors can know students on a personal level at a small-size college. Therefore, I am proud to reflect on the relationships I was able to build with my professors, and I hope to maintain these relationships with them throughout my professional career.
As I touched on earlier, respect is a very important topic to explore when discussing ethical development. The reason I bring up respect is because college is a time when we are introduced to many different personalities and backgrounds, and we are expected to get past those barriers by being open to opposing views. It was not very difficult for me to get along with differing personalities, because I have always been well rounded and always had a wide range of friends with different backgrounds. However, there have been several instances where disputes and arguments arose between my roommates and I, and the majority of the time a different personality is simply the catalyst for that argument. With that said, I feel that I have made a conscious effort to understand where the opposing argument made a valid point, and I acknowledge when I agree with a point that I may not have thought of before the argument started. Therefore, going to college and experiencing many different points of view has really improved my maturity level and my respect for people’s opinions and values that I may not agree with.
When I think of ethical development, I tend to think about how one has developed his or her morals. I think I have fairly descent morals and values; however, there is always room for improvement. With that said, I included a paper from New Testament as an artifact, because I felt there is a relationship between my experience in that class and my efforts to improve upon my morals. Even though the class New Testament was just meant to dissect the Bible and compare and contrast different sections, the class really encouraged me to read the Bible more consistently. This will ultimately put me on the right path to improve my morals as best as possible, because everything we are called on to do is laid out right there in the Bible. Therefore, by reading the New Testament for this class and writing response papers about the literature, I have felt the desire to become even more engaged with the Bible and strengthen my faith.
The last dimension to explore when reflecting on my time at Bridgewater College is wellness and the goals I have for healthy living in the future. When it comes to wellness, I have never really had a problem because I am always very active with sports. In fact, during my first two years at Bridgewater, I participated on the Bridgewater Football Team. At that time I was in the best shape of my life, because of the weight training and conditioning that was necessary in order to compete at the collegiate level. During the offseason, we would be up at 6 a.m. running sprints and completing lifting workouts so we would be physically ready for the upcoming season. Therefore, during my time on the Bridgewater Football Team, it is definitely clear that exercise was a vital part of my physical wellness.
The reason I put an emphasis on exercise being a positive aspect of my well being, is because I must admit that my eating habits could see an improvement. There are times when I make a conscious effort to eat healthy, but for the most part I eat whatever and wherever sounds appealing at the time. After reflecting on how I have eaten during my time at Bridgewater, it is evident to me that I need to change my eating habits in the future. Another reason I am going to be serious about changing my eating habits is because heart problems are very common in my family. Therefore, I need to do my part to help prevent or at least minimize the effects of hereditary heart problems.
Another aspect of my wellness and healthy living at Bridgewater is derived from my continuous participation in intramurals. Ever since my freshman year, I have participated in basketball and softball. Then, in my junior and senior year, I included flag football to my lineup of intramural sports. Intramurals are a great way for students to stay active throughout the school year. Along with intramurals, I enjoy playing pick-up basketball games on any given day that I have free time in the afternoon. This is another way to stay active on a continuous basis, and it is also a positive that basketball is something I really enjoy playing. To top it all off, I have forged many friendships through intramurals and playing pick-up basketball that have lasted for my entire career at Bridgewater College.
Even though the consistency level of my weight training and conditioning has declined since I stopped playing football, I am planning on setting aside time to make trips to the gym. The catalyst for this sudden spark in my interest in wellness and healthy living comes from the class I attended in the fall semester of my senior year called Conditioning and Weight Training. This class encouraged me to regain my motivation to consistently lift and run in order to maintain my wellness. I felt it was necessary to include a workout that I designed for this class as a bonus artifact, because without this class I may not have found the encouragement to increase my level of activity. Therefore, along with my continuous activity when it comes to sports, I think consistent workouts in the gym will put my wellness and healthy living goals where I want them to be.
Looking ahead to months following graduation, I am planning on obtaining my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. We will see how it all plays out, but it is a strong possibility that I will be working for a public accounting firm while working on obtaining the CPA license. Unlike the majority of students majoring in accounting, I was fortunate enough to come into Bridgewater with twenty-six college credits. This set me up perfectly, because I do not need to go to graduate school in order to obtain 150 credit hours, which is required to be a CPA in Virginia. Therefore, within the next several years, I see myself with a respectable public accounting job in the Richmond, Virginia area. Looking ahead even further, I am planning on becoming a partner for a public accounting firm that I have spent a substantial amount of time working at. Even though becoming a partner is a very difficult task, I think my determination and diligence will pay off and ultimately put me in the position where I can achieve that title.
I think it was very beneficial and important to reflect on the last several years of my life, and bring it all together in an essay. There have been many experiences that positively impacted my life, and set a solid foundation for success in my future career path. From practicing better communication skills to learning essential accounting functions, Bridgewater has afforded me the opportunity to have a successful and fulfilling career in accounting. On top of that, I have forged and built many friendships that I will carry forward for the rest of my life. I am definitely happy with my decision to attend a small liberal arts college, such as Bridgewater College, in order to obtain my education and experience a fulfilling social life. I appreciate my overall college experience at Bridgewater and feel positive that it has afforded me the needed skills to have a successful future.