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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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In just three years at SDSU and before turning 21, Anna-Kaye Powell earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. (SDSU) In just three years at SDSU and before turning 21, Anna-Kaye Powell earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. (SDSU)

Driven to Achieve

SDSU graduate credits philanthropic support for motivating her remarkable three-year accounting degree achievement.
By Tobin Vaughn

Anna-Kaye Powell (’23) was always an outstanding student. A self-described overachiever and extrovert, she earned top grades in her studies from elementary school on.


“I was kind of like the teacher’s pet” in a variety of subjects, Powell admits. And no wonder, considering her scholastic and extracurricular accomplishments.


At her Oceanside high school where she maintained a 4.5 GPA, Powell played basketball and earned MVP honors on the track and tennis teams. She was a member of the National Honor Society whose community service commitments included Key Club, the Rotaract Club and Kiwanis of Oceanside.


Still, Powell made time to take 10 advanced placement classes along with enough community college summer school courses to enter San Diego State University as a second-year student. In just three years at SDSU and before turning 21, she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Fowler College of Business. 


“I love math,” said Powell. “There’s always a correct answer.” 


As busy as she was with her studies, four paid internships, on-campus jobs at a restaurant, and as a student financial counselor at the Cal Coast Student Financial Center, Powell still managed to engage in several campus activities. She joined the Finance and Investment Society and held executive positions on the boards of both the Black Business Society and Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity while also engaging in community service through the Black Resource Center.


Scholarship success


It may sound like quite a load for any student, but “I have always been this driven,” Powell said. That drive prompted her to submit applications that earned her more than $11,000 in scholarship awards while at SDSU, including the Paul Kurtz and Genevieve Jane Crecelius Endowed Scholarship in Accounting, and the Marjorie and Neal Reed Memorial Scholarship.


Those awards would serve Powell and her family in ways they could never have foreseen. Powell’s father is a 20-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran who now works at Camp Pendleton. Her mother’s career was cut short by a debilitating illness with medical bills that left the family in a financial bind. 


“Unfortunately, I couldn't get any sort of contribution from my parents,” Powell said. Thankfully, decades of donor generosity meant Anna-Kaye could explore scholarships. 


Through her own experience with scholarships and her work at the Student Financial Center, Powell has become adept at counseling students and their parents about their financial options. She is confident in guiding them through the ins and outs of the application process and is gratified when her efforts make them feel more comfortable.


“I've talked to parents for a good 20 minutes walking them through how I got the scholarships, and at the end of it they'll always be so grateful,” Powell said. “That’s where I find a lot of satisfaction.”


SDSU offers nearly 700 scholarship funds to assist students with their educational goals. For high-achieving students like Powell, the extra funding can make a tremendous difference in their college experience.


“The importance of raising funds for scholarships cannot be overstated,” said University Relations and Development Vice President Adrienne Vargas. “It not only opens doors of opportunity for deserving students but also cultivates a diverse and inclusive academic landscape, fostering innovation and excellence.”


The scholarship advantage


Scholarships can also help students avoid accumulating burdensome debt. Powell has taken out two loans, but considers herself fortunate because, “I don’t really sweat the debt,” she said.


That’s because in October Powell starts a new job as an external audit associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. Her plan is to gain some experience and keep climbing the corporate ladder.


Regarding her scholarships, Powell said “they are very much appreciated.” She describes the financial awards as “taking a load off students’ backs” and enhancing the college experience.

“Scholarships keep us going, they keep us motivated and help keep that drive up.”


In her thank-you notes to donors, Powell said she makes a vow to do what she set out to do. “Meaning I will achieve the grades that I said I'm going to achieve and I won't let them down after college. The scholarship won’t go unnoticed.”


And neither will the example set by their generosity.


“SDSU makes it apparent that opportunities are there and there is value in going to SDSU,” Powell concludes. “I've been very grateful for what SDSU has provided and I want to show my thanks by being able to give back as well. Philanthropy is definitely in my future.”


To make a gift to SDSU, visit To learn more about how to create a scholarship, contact Mary Darling, or 619-665-2879. Review the 2022-23 Scholarship Impact Report