Smeal spring 2020 accounting marshal's freshman course inspired choice of major

May 08, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said that success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. That moment occurred for Cecelia Minnick during Accounting 211H: Financial and Managerial Accounting.

“Toward the end of my freshman year, I was rethinking my original choice of major. During that time, I took ACCTG 211H. I really enjoyed this honors section of the entrance-to-major course and the material clicked for me,” she said. “I specifically prefer math-related subjects and process-oriented tasks, so accounting was the perfect combination.”

A photo of Cecelia Minnick

Cecelia Minnick, Smeal's spring 2020 accounting student marshal, followed in her sister Olivia's footsteps in earning an accounting degree from Smeal and then landing a job at a CPA firm.

IMAGE: Provided

Minnick, who will graduate this Saturday, May 9, with a 3.98 GPA in accounting and minors in information systems management and legal environment of business, has been selected as Smeal’s spring 2020 accounting student marshal.

“When I found out that I was chosen as student marshal, I was very honored to represent Smeal and the Accounting Department. It felt very rewarding to be acknowledged for my hard work over my four years at Penn State. I was also really excited to tell my parents and family who have provided me with endless support throughout my college experience,” she said.

As with all marshals, Minnick’s list of accomplishments and accolades made her a natural selection. She was a Schreyer Scholar, a Smeal Student Mentor, and an Apollo THON family relations chair. She received the PICPA Merit Scholarship, Stefanie Durbin Honors Scholarship, and the Schreyer Honors College Academic Excellence Scholarship. And she was a teaching assistant for BA 342: Socially Responsible, Sustainable and Ethical Business Practice.

With so many things filling her calendar, Minnick shared an observation that is true of many successful people.

“At times it was difficult to balance all of my responsibilities and still enjoy some free time, but I often find that the busier I am, the more motivated I stay to get everything done. There were times when I was balancing a heavy course load with club leadership responsibilities and times when I was balancing writing a thesis with studying for a CPA exam,” she said.

“Just like most college students, though, I developed my time management skills early on and quickly learned the importance of prioritizing time to decompress. I also made sure to choose extracurricular activities that I found to be enjoyable and purposeful so that on the days that I didn’t have much free time, I still could come home feeling like I did something worthwhile and fun.”

At the top of her “worthwhile and fun” list was her involvement with THON.

“THON became one of my favorite aspects of Penn State after my first experience during freshman year, and during my junior year, I served as the family relations chair for Apollo, which was an extremely rewarding experience,” she said.

Another passion of Minnick’s was satisfied when she was chosen to attend the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville.

“Toward the end of my junior year, I was selected to join a team of Smeal and recreational parks and tourism management students and professors to attend the draft and volunteer as Sustainability Ambassadors,” she said.

“I was so honored to have this opportunity to represent Smeal and Penn State at such a large-scale event, and it was an amazing learning experience. We had the opportunity to speak with Penn State alumni who now work for the NFL as well as see first-hand how they are implementing sustainable practices into the organization. This was an experience that I will never forget.”

Minnick said that all of the people she worked with and learned from in her academic endeavors meshed to accelerate her successes.

“I don’t think I could choose one person specifically who had the biggest impact on my academic achievements. It truly was a group effort with contributions from just about every Smeal professor that I’ve had who each taught me both life and career lessons and put their all into providing their students the best education,” she said.

“I also found that my classmates, especially the Smeal Schreyer students that I took all entrance-to-major classes with, had a very large impact on my academic achievements through motivating and inspiring me to work hard.”

That hard work has paid off. This fall she will start her career as an audit associate within Baker Tilly’s manufacturing and distribution business unit in Lancaster. In the interim, she said she will be studying for certified public accountant exams.

Her sister, Olivia, a 2018 Smeal accounting alumna who works for a CPA firm in Lititz, Pennsylvania, recently passed all four of her CPA exams. Cecelia said she hopes to follow in her footsteps.

“When I talk about Smeal, I always find myself mentioning how well-prepared for the workforce I feel as a result of being a Smeal student. Not only does Smeal have so many resources available to help students find the right career placement, they also provide endless opportunities to gain experience. Throughout my time at Smeal, I had numerous networking opportunities, worked with real companies for projects, and attended several career development events,” she said.

“While I knew these were great opportunities, I did not realize how influential they would become until I began my internship with Baker Tilly this past summer. Even though there are always skills that school cannot prepare you for, I felt very confident in the background skill set that Smeal equipped me with, and I was able to use that to learn new skills.”

More information about Smeal's spring 2020 commencement can be found online.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 11, 2020