January 26, 2018

McDowell Finds Calling to Help Others Through Accounting

McDowell Finds Calling to Help Others Through Accounting
McDowell helped in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an organization that prepares tax returns for low-income, working families and students for free.

Competing for Henderson’s Heartland High School Future Business Leaders of America chapter, Ashley (Quiring) McDowell ’17 won two national competitions focused on accounting. Though the first-place trophies represented her success, she found a greater sense of accomplishment by finding her calling.

“After winning the national competitions, I decided accounting would be the career for me. It just clicked,” she said. “I wanted to help others by helping them better understand financial information.”

A student in the first cohort of the Nebraska Business Honors Academy, McDowell took advantage of many experiences, such as studying abroad in the Nebraska at Oxford program, joining Beta Alpha Psi and serving on the Honors Academy Council. She also helped in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an organization that prepares tax returns for low-income, working families and students for free.

McDowell pursuing her MPA at Nebraska.
McDowell pursuing her MPA at Nebraska.

“The connections I made with faculty in the School of Accountancy are most beneficial as I can always go to them for advice and help. I met Dr. (Aaron) Crabtree when he taught the Introductory Accounting I (ACCT 201) class for Honors Academy students. He helped me get my first internship at Deloitte in Omaha,” she said.

McDowell said this prepared her for two other internships at EKS&H in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and BKD, LLP in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her audit and tax internships provided diverse experiences in different size firms. She also took advantage of a new internship program where students can complete an eightweek internship in the first part of the spring semester before returning to campus to take two accelerated courses for the rest of the semester.

“When Dr. Crabtree told me about the new internship program, I jumped at the opportunity. I could get experience working during the busy season, an important time for accountants, while not getting behind in coursework,” she said.

Preferring tax accounting, she decided to pursue her MPA at Nebraska and earn her CPA. In September, she starts working at BKD, LLP in Colorado Springs as a tax associate, which will bring her plan of helping others through accounting full circle.

“Relationships are important in accounting. I will help people figure out what to do with their finances and how their tax returns affect them,” she said. “By connecting one-on-one with others, accounting allows me to make a real difference.”