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Accountancy students, alumni embrace networking at St. Mary’s service project

Erin O’Grady ’14 and Aaron Yu ’11 & ’12G were in their freshman and senior years at Providence College, respectively, when the student-run Accounting Association and Big Four accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) joined to sponsor a community service day at St. Mary’s Home for Children in North Providence, R.I.

Four St. Mary’s projects later, the two annual participants remain hooked and as convinced as ever that the outreach is rewarding on multiple fronts.

“The day makes me proud to be a Friar,” said O’Grady (Wantagh, N.Y.), who served as the Accounting Association’s president this past academic year.

“Participating in something like this is beneficial and valuable to everyone involved,” remarked Yu, a second-year tax associate in PwC’s Boston, Mass., office.

O’Grady and Yu were two of approximately 80 College representatives who beautified the grounds and buildings of St. Mary’s at the recent fourth annual community service day there.

The corps of workers was comprised of about 60 undergraduate and graduate students and nearly 20 alumni, including John R. Formica, Jr. ’81, a PwC partner who, with recruiting manager Ann Ulett, from PwC’s Boston office, are the firm’s project liaisons. They were joined by two assistant professors of accountancy, Dr. Matthew J. Keane and Dr. Stephen Perreault. Nearly all the alumni who participated graduated within the past five years and work for PwC.

For six hours, volunteers spruced up St. Mary’s property under bright sunshine. They raked and cleared brush and debris; painted railings and stairways; repaired children’s bicycles; and organized donated clothing for the agency’s children and other needy individuals in the community.

In addition to the service, the Accounting Association presented a check for $200 to St. Mary’s, and a PC alumnus and his organization anonymously donated $500 to the agency.

St. Mary’s Home, established in 1877, provides comprehensive treatment programs for boys and girls who are traumatized by abuse or are experiencing the challenges of psychiatric disorders.

Added value to students: networking

O’Grady and Yu said one of the reasons they got involved in the first St. Mary’s project was because they saw it as a networking opportunity, knowing that alumni who work for PwC would be helping out, too.

O’Grady, who wanted to begin building her résumé, returned every year since her freshman year. The first two years, she was a class representative for the Accounting Association. She served as secretary as a junior and was elected president as a senior. As her role and responsibilities evolved, she came to enjoy the service day more and more, she said.

“The staff at St. Mary’s genuinely appreciates the work we do for them, which makes all of the work the Accounting Association board does leading up to the event worthwhile,” she said, referencing the other board members — Amanda Medeiros ’14 (Fall River, Mass.), Megan Cavazuti ’15 (Tampa, Fla.), John Lynch ’14 (Pearl River, N.Y.), Frank Taylor ’14 (Garden City, N.Y.), and Chris Danko ’15 (Middletown, Conn.). 

“Aside from aiding St. Mary’s, I really enjoy helping the underclassmen make connections to aid them in their hunt for internships and jobs,” continued O’Grady, who will become an assurance associate with PwC after taking the C.P.A. exam this summer. “I was fortunate to meet some great mentors who helped me during my time at PC. … It also makes me happy to know that when I start with PwC this fall, I will be joining an organization that cares.”

Yu, meanwhile, had high networking expectations that first year of the service project. He had accepted an internship offer from PwC in the fall of his senior year and thought the day of service would be a good opportunity to meet alumni who work for PwC. It was “a great experience,” and he’s returned every year since.

“I got a chance to meet a lot of alumni, bond with the seniors I’d spent four years in the accounting program with, share my experiences with underclassmen who are trying to figure out their next steps, and it was a chance for both the firm and the accounting program to give back to the local community,” he said.

He emphasized that the St. Mary’s project is rewarding on multiple levels for many people, namely students, alumni, St. Mary’s children and staff, and PwC itself. Students and alumni get a chance to socialize out of their respective environments, and the project provides an opportunity to reflect, he said. He added that the volunteer work lets St. Mary’s staff focus more on the children it serves.

O’Grady said the most recent service project couldn’t have turned out any better.

“The day as a whole was heartwarming ... to see all of our hard work pay off, be reunited with old friends, and give back to a worthy cause,” she said. 

— Charles C. Joyce

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