Student Spotlight - Sara Winston

Growing personally and professionally as an USF accounting major

Sara Winston

When Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy master's student Sara Winston first came to the University of South Florida as a transfer student in spring 2012, she says she would just show up for class and then leave.

But after hearing about the accounting honors organization Beta Alpha Psi in Professor Jennifer Cainas' Intermediate I class, she thought that she had finally found the organization for her.

Winston deliberated about Beta Alpha Psi for the rest of the summer, and the following fall, she decided to pledge to join the USF chapter.

"It has been the best decision I have made at USF, aside from choosing accounting as my major of course," she said. "Since joining Beta Alpha Psi I have not only grown professionally, but most important, personally."

Winston has prospered in Beta Alpha Psi. She has risen from a regular member to last fall's vice president to the current fall 2014 USF chapter president,

"I have gained the confidence to speak in front of large groups and taken on leadership roles I would have never imagined before. Beta Alpha Psi has really opened a lot of doors of opportunity in my life," she said.

She says that her advice to beginning accounting majors (besides her "shameless plug about the importance of joining Beta Alpha Psi") is to stress the importance of studying hard because it is critical to keep your GPA as high as possible.

"Once I became an accounting major I really had to change the way I studied in order to do well," she advised. "You have to work hard not to procrastinate and stay caught-up on the material because your GPA can be a definite determining factor at the career fair or for hiring opportunities in general."

Winston also believes that no USF student should miss out on walking at their graduation.

"I have had plenty of my friends who work so hard for four years, and then decide not to walk at graduation," she said. "I think the graduation ceremony is the culmination of all of your hard work, and walking across that stage with your family and friends looking on definitely gives you that sense of accomplishment!"

Winston will graduate with her Master of Accountancy degree in August 2015. Prior to graduation she plans on completing all four sections of the Certified Public Accountant exam, beginning with her first section, regulation, in the October/November testing window. Her short term goals after graduation consist of earning her CPA designation before starting full-time with EY.

My ultimate goal in life is to one day be an executive of a large corporation. I have always aspired to be either a CEO or CFO," she said. "After completing my master's degree in accountancy and earning the CPA designation I will begin in an audit capacity at EY. I may adjust my ultimate goal moving forward and work toward being an audit partner at EY, but for now I will work hard and know I can achieve whatever I put my mind to."

You will almost always find Winston in the hallways of the Muma College of Business. whether taking her own classes, helping students prepare for the competency exam in BSN 1204, or in front of a Principles of Managerial Accounting break-out class as one of Professor Cainas' teaching assistants.