Profiles: Joanna Neilson
Senior Accounting Analyst, PG&E
Taking All Things into Account
How did you decide on the bachelor of science in business (accounting concentration) at GGU?
Two years ago, after a nasty divorce, I moved back to the Bay Area to be near my mother and daughter and applied to San Francisco State University for the Fall semester. I hadn't heard of GGU until I opened a small bookkeeping office in downtown San Francisco and noticed signs for GGU. I did some research, and when I learned about the flexibility of the programs, I applied and was accepted.
What were some of the more difficult factors that influenced your decision?
Having attended another university with an accelerated program (which will remain nameless), I was hesitant to enroll at another accelerated program. I didn't want to "buy" my degree; I wanted to learn and truly earn my degree, as it is what will ultimately allow me to pass the rigorous CPA exam. It is important that I not only get the piece of paper, but also that I learn the material while doing so. I am pleased to say that I have learned a great deal while attending GGU and feel that the money spent has been well worth the education I have obtained. One of the main attractions was the fact that GGU is very highly regarded as a reputable university within the business community of San Francisco and other areas.
How do you plan to use your degree?
I hope to pass the CPA exam and ultimately become a CFO either in my current company or another company if the opportunity arises. I have worked in the accounting profession for nearly 20 years, but this degree will help validate my knowledge and will give me the opportunity to take my career to the next level. Without my degree, I have probably reached my peak of opportunity in my current position.
What has been the biggest hurdle since being a GGU student?
Maintaining a high GPA with the demands of a career, family, and relationships. It has not been easy, but I am now more familiar with the structure of the online platform and have developed a rhythm for accomplishing good grades while balancing the demands of work, school, and family.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Finishing my first term at GGU and earning a 4.0 taking 15 units while building my business at the same time. Another huge accomplishment was earning two large scholarships this year, which will be an enormous help in paying off some student loans. I was awarded a scholarship from both the San Francisco chapter of Cal CPA and more recently one from the Financial Women's Association of San Francisco. I feel very honored and grateful for the acknowledgement of my achievements from these prestigious organizations.
What are your secrets to success?
Quite simply, "never give up." I have been working for 29 years to earn my four-year degree. I have raised two fabulous children, been through some very difficult personal challenges, but have always stayed the course and pushed myself to reach this ultimate goal of earning my degree. It has not been easy, but the pride I will feel as I walk down that aisle to get my degree will be priceless and will make all these struggles worth the years of hard work and determination!