You get out … what you put in

McKenzie Hofmann, a UWL senior from Stratford, Wis., has earned $13,000 through the UWL Foundation while attending UWL. The accountancy major calls the help an “unbelievable stress reliever,” particularly when she had to pay Twin Cities area rent for a semester-long internship.

UWL senior applies herself to find scholarships assistance, success

McKenzie Hofmann has a warm smile and a friendly demeanor. You wouldn’t think she hates anything. But there is one thing — debt.

The UWL accountancy major grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she was valedictorian of her high school class. She earned the valedictorian scholarship, as well as a few others coming out of high school. When she left for UWL in fall 2013, she knew that would be the extent of her financial assistance in college. Her parents would have loved to help, but the resources weren’t there.

So, when Hofmann started college, she heeded her mother’s advice and applied for as many scholarships as she could. Now entering her senior year, Hofmann has earned $13,000 total through the UWL Foundation.

Her strategy on those scholarship essays year after year? Hofmann explains she is simply honest. She shares her financial situation. And she shares her values — like this one: “You get out what you put in.”

Hofmann is the kind of student who always comes to class prepared, having read the book and studied her notes. She likes the professors who meet her at that point — ready to dive in and take learning to the next level.

That’s why she loved the first accountancy class she ever took with now Professor Emeritus Joe Kastantin. He challenged her. A follow-up email from him after her first class exam made her consider an accountancy major for the first time.

“It was a nice email to get,” she says. “I thought ‘Wow, maybe I am good at this.’”

Today Hofmann is glad she switched majors and started on the accountancy path. After a full-time internship at a public accounting firm in the Twin Cities, Redpath and Company, spring semester, Hofmann was offered a full-time career with the firm. She’ll start after her December 2017 graduation.

Many accountancy faculty reach out to students about a potential major in accountancy when they demonstrate a strong aptitude, says Accountancy Department Chair Will Maas.

Kastantin remembers Hofmann, in particular.

“When I find one or more students in ACC 221 that show a combination of performance and diligence that I think are well suited to accounting, I make a point of communicating with them either via email or by suggesting that we meet outside of class,” says Kastantin.

Kastantin shares the expectations of the career such as the CPA exam requirement, the additional credit hours they’ll need for the degree, and the expectation of engagement in a paid internship. Kastantin says those accountancy majors who perform well in the internship often land a full-time career up to a year in advance of graduation.

Hofmann says the scholarship assistance was particularly important during her internship. In addition to tuition, she also had to pay for rent in the Twin Cities area.

She thanks donors for all of the scholarship assistance, which was an “unbelievable stress reliever,” particularly during this defining moment in her college career.

In the end, those gifts helped her get out exactly what she put in.