Ashley Ackelson: Midcourse correction pays off


Ashley Ackelson graduated from C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Va., four years ago knowing for certain that she was college-bound, and that she was very good in math.

She wasn’t as sure what she wanted to do, but planned to explore her options at the College of Charleston, where she had a merit-based scholarship. But the fit wasn’t right for her there, or at two other schools where she enrolled briefly.

Ashley Ackelson

Ashley Ackelson

It was then that Ackelson was persuaded by her father to take a look at his alma mater — The University of Akron.

“I knew the accounting program was strong, but it seemed like such a big place, I wasn’t sure at first,” admits Ackelson. “Then, at the transfer student orientation, I fell in love with the campus.”

Happy to be second generation UA grad

Fast forward two years and now Ackelson is about to be a second generation UA graduate. She will receive a B.S. in Accounting, summa cum laude, at the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 16, at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. She has been chosen to speak on behalf of the Summer Class of 2014 as the student responder.

She won’t have much time to celebrate her achievement though — she’s heading to Toledo where she has accepted a position as a tax accountant at Healthcare REIT.

Ackelson was able to stay on track and excel, even while working two part-time jobs at accounting firms and taking all her classes in the evening.

Her perseverance earns praise from Dr. Thomas Calderon, professor and chair of the George W. Davario School of Accountancy, who nominated her for the honor of student responder.

Determined to succeed

“Ashley is an impressive student and I am proud of her,” notes Calderon. “Despite challenges and setbacks, she is graduating with a college degree in four years — on time and with exceptional grades — she has a cumulative GPA of 3.99.”

For Ackelson, her chosen major and her work/class schedule were just the right fit.

“I really enjoy accounting and I’m good at it,” she says with a smile. “It is challenging, but I understand everything and I have enjoyed everything I’ve done in the field.

“The first semester I was here, I didn’t work and I wasn’t as efficient or as organized,” she continues. “Having the work-school balance made me better in school — I worked faster and better.”

While she didn’t have much free time, she was part of UA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, which is held on Saturdays during tax season.

“We helped the clients and they helped us. It was a great learning experience,” says Ackelson.

As for her Akron Experience, the soon-to-be graduate is grateful.

“Akron gave me a fresh start, helped me set personal and professional goals, and helped me find my place,” notes Ackelson.