Berks' Yaya Barry takes road less traveled

May 04, 2016

When Penn State Berks' Yaya Barry graduated on Saturday, May 7, it was the realization of his dream and the culmination of a long journey for him and his family, having moved from Guinea to the United States in 2004. When they arrived in Philadelphia, Barry did not know any English. In just 12 years, he has been able to not only learn the language, but also earn a bachelor of science in accounting and a full-time internship at Ernst & Young as an auditor.

“Before coming to Berks, I was working at a restaurant and there I was being trained as a supervisor. As part of that position, I was responsible for taking care of the financial records. That’s when I realized that when I went to college, I wanted to either major in accounting or finance,” said Barry.

Although he originally planned to continue his studies at Penn State's University Park campus, he soon found the faculty and staff to be so supportive at Berks that he decided to stay for all four years. He was also involved in many campus activities.

“I am glad I came to Berks and even when the opportunity to go Penn State Smeal College of Business arose, I decided against going because of the things I achieved at Berks, all the mentors’ help I received, and all the friend I made,” Barry said. “I love Berks. I think it’s the best place to be.”

During his time at the campus, Barry was a member of the Student Accounting Association, past financial manager for the Student Government Association, a peer mentor, and an orientation leader. He was also president of Chi Alpha Epsilon, a national honor society, and he made the campus' dean’s list every semester. In addition, he held several jobs on campus, working in the Information Technology Department as a classroom technician, in Police Services, and in the Learning Center.

Through the accounting major, he had an opportunity to complete an internship at Customers Bank in their auditing department in 2016.

When asked how his time at the Penn State Berks has prepared him for the future, he said, “When I first came to Berks, I was a lousy writer and public speaker. I came a long way due to the leadership positions I held and the opportunities to work on group projects.

“With Penn State Berks, you have mentors who are very supportive; it’s not like that at every college. If you apply yourself, people are willing to help you.”

Where does the road lead next for Barry? He plans to become a certified public accountant and eventually earn a master’s degree in finance. 

  • Yaya in living room

    Yaya Barry 

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated May 23, 2016