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Thursday, December 7, 2023

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Anna-Kaye Powell, 20, is graduating with an accounting degree in three years and has a job lined up with a Big Four accounting firm. (SDSU) Anna-Kaye Powell, 20, is graduating with an accounting degree in three years and has a job lined up with a Big Four accounting firm. (SDSU)

Three and Done

Professional internships and campus involvement help new accounting graduate land first job at a Big Four firm.
By Aaron Burgin

Anna-Kaye Powell's experience at San Diego State University has been anything but typical. 

This week, she will receive her bachelor’s degree in Accounting after only three years. 

A smile comes across the Oceanside native’s face when she talks about what graduating this early means for post-graduation celebrations.

“I won’t be able to drink at my own graduation,” said Powell, who doesn’t turn 21 until June.

She will graduate summa cum laude with a 3.88 grade-point average earned while also working at the Cal Coast Student Financial Center as a student financial counselor and being an active member in the Black Business Society and Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.  

Shortly after graduation, Powell will start her professional career as an external audit associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms. She did a pair of internships with the firm during her time at SDSU.

“While part of me says that I see it as the next step and what I am supposed to do, sometimes I do need to give myself more credit for what I’ve accomplished,” Powell said. “I should be proud of myself, I worked hard and I did that.”

Shira Scott, director of the Student Financial Center, sang Powell’s praises. 

“Anna-Kaye has been a great asset to the Student Financial Center,” Scott said. “She takes initiative, she contributes her thoughts and ideas at staff meetings and she is a great counselor. Her work ethic and determination is evident in her work environment and her dedication to her studies.”

So how does one accomplish the feat of graduating from college in three years during one of the most turbulent times in modern history, the COVID-19 pandemic? 

It started well before she reached campus, Powell said. 

She passed 10 advanced placement courses and also took classes during the summer at a community college. By the time she arrived at SDSU, she was a sophomore. 

Then, she took upward of 17 units each semester while also finding time to get involved with campus organizations.

Powell credits SDSU’s Fowler School of Business for providing opportunities for involvement and the internships she had. 

“I definitely love the number of opportunities that have come my way,” Powell said. “Fowler makes it really easy to get involved, they have things lined up for you, and it was very minimal work to get the internship I did. I definitely loved the easy access and ability to network and find these opportunities.” 

She also pointed to SDSU’s Black student community and its hub, the Black Resource Center, as a highlight of her experience. 

“I didn’t get a chance to be too involved in the Black community because I was so busy with things, but Black Resource Center was so inviting and always made me feel at home,” Powell said. “I always felt welcomed into a lot of the things they had going on.” 

But her time at SDSU wasn’t without hurdles. As a result of the pandemic and financial issues, she only lived on campus one of her three years, and she said at times she misses the fact that she didn’t get the full college experience as some of her peers. 

During her final year, she commuted from Oceanside via commuter train and trolley for long stretches of the year because of trouble with her personal vehicle. 

“There are times where I’m like ‘I should stay another year and, like, really take in the college experience and have fun and make memories,’” Powell said. “But, on the other end, I’m like, ‘You already have a job lined up and you’re doing well.’ I can make memories outside away from campus.”