Ask Sarah Kern to describe a high quality, college education, and she’ll tell you about caring, helpful professors and a campus learning environment that, as she puts it, “has enabled me to bloom.”
The 24-year-old Highland resident is on track to graduate from Purdue University Calumet Thursday (12/18) with a degree in accounting. Less than three weeks later, she begins a job with White Lodging as an auditor.
“I hope I have as much fun working as I’ve had going to school,” she said. “The people at Purdue Calumet are the best. I’ve been blown away by the professors I’ve had. They care so much about their students.”
Job opportunity tip
For one, there’s Ed Furticella—faculty member, head of the Department of Accounting and campus Accounting & Finance Club advisor—who tipped off Kern about the job opportunity with White Lodging and encouraged her to apply for it.
“When he found out the type of person White Lodging was looking to hire, he told me, ‘You should apply’,” she said. “He’ll do anything for his students.”
She also points to Professor Gail Hoover-King, who led a study abroad, experiential learning business class to London and Paris last summer. “It was an amazing trip,” Kern recalled. “I learned how business is conducted in different cultures. I also became close to seven other students I didn’t know very well before.”
Among others on her Purdue Calumet “best” people list are the individuals for and with whom she has worked in the university Registrar’s Office, as well as the many students she has assisted.
As for the campus learning environment, she is quick to credit her involvement in Purdue Calumet’s Finance & Accounting Club, through which she said she gained valuable insights about networking.
“(Furticella) would bring in speakers, which gave me a chance to ask questions about stuff you just can’t learn about from Googling,” she said.
Her internship last summer with a local accountant, as part of Purdue Calumet’s experiential learning requirement, was another rich opportunity she described as “extremely stressful, but worth about three classes of learning.”
Impressed by the experience her older sister enjoyed at the Hammond campus years earlier, Kern admitted that Purdue Calumet was the only university she applied to attend following her graduation from Highland High School in 2009.
Initial undecidedness about her academic major delayed her graduation progress slightly. But when her boyfriend encouraged her to try accounting, she found a program that by her own admission could not have fit her better.
Drive to succeed
“I’m not the smartest one in our program, but I do OK, and I’m passionate about accounting,” she said.
Furticella describes Kern as “one of those individuals who has gone above and beyond. She is one of our stars and definitely has the skills, maturity, persistence and drive needed to be successful anywhere.”
Asked to reflect on her preparation as she looks forward to starting her career, she said, “Being involved on campus and being able to go talk to professors and get good feedback helped me a great deal. Purdue Calumet has been a confidence-booster for me. The whole environment here has enabled me to bloom.”