The Career Development Center held its annual Break Through weekend from Feb. 4-6. Break Through is a three-day series of events that connect students with Susquehanna alumni who want to help students as they move toward graduation and beyond. Among this year's alumni who returned to speak at the event was former volleyball and softball player Kate Reese '12, now an accountant at Baker Tilly. She was kind enough to answer more than a few questions about life since graduation, Break Through and what four years as a varsity athlete taught her.
Name: Kate Reese
Sport: Volleyball, Softball
Class Year: 2012
Major: Accounting, Minors in Mathematics & Economics
Current Location: Williamsport, PA
What have you been up to since graduation?
After graduation in 2012, I interned with a regional accounting firm, ParenteBeard, for the summer. In fall 2012, I began my graduate program at the "Other SU" (Syracuse) for my Masters in Accounting. I was fortunate enough to get a job offer from ParenteBeard (now named Baker Tilly) in September 2012, so I was able to breeze through (…as much as you can in a graduate program) my Masters year without a care! I sat for my CPA exam during April – August 2013, prior to beginning work in September 2013. I have been at Baker Tilly ever since, working mostly on audits in our Healthcare Practice.
How did you become in involved in this year's Break Through event and what was your involvement – panel, solo presentation, etc.?
I became involved with the Break Through program through continued contact with the professors at SU. I have participated in several events at the school over the past year (PICPA Career Day & Global Business Perspectives Presentations), which helped me maintain those relationships with the faculty of the Business School. I participated in a panel about careers in public accounting geared specifically toward SWSB students.
What was your motivation for saying "yes" to attending Break Through?
I can never turn down an opportunity to visit my alma mater! But I also love being able to give back to the SU community. I prefer to interact with the students and contribute to their education in a more personal way through personal interaction and networking.
What did you speak about during your presentation?
I spoke about about careers in public accounting. Specifically, I talked about what work life is like at Baker Tilly, a large regional firm, and debunking all of the myths about the busy season!
What was one thing (message, piece of advice, etc.) you hope students who attended Break Through walked away with?
I hope that students will realize that SU has an ever-growing network of alumni that want nothing more than for those following in their footsteps to succeed. SU has a great alumni base that is always willing to help a fellow SU grad get a foot in the door. I feel like networking is not taken advantage of enough by current students and alumni.
What about your experience at Susquehanna prepared you not only for life after college in general but the specific life you've started after college?
My career in public accounting can be very busy, stressful, and deadline-driven. I think that the SU curriculum, specifically within the business school, prepared me well for the challenges that lay beyond school. I was always busy (partly due to sports), I was occasionally stressed (mostly around finals week) and I always had deadlines to meet for my classes. As hectic as college was, I learned to manage my time better than I ever could have imagined. I learned how to deal with stressful situations and group conflict. And, most importantly, I learned that life beyond SU was not nearly as scary as it looked when I was a student!
Talk about the positive role athletics played in leading you on the path you've been on since graduation.
I can attribute a lot of who I am today to my participation in athletics – my drive to always perform at my best, my commitment to the things I love to do, and my time management skills. However, the most rewarding thing that I learned from my participation in athletics was my passion to coach. I was injured for most of my senior softball season during which I got to spend a lot of time in the dugout and off the field learning about the strategy and breaking down the fundamentals of the game. Upon graduation I joined my high school coaches in coaching a local 14U team in Wellsboro. I loved being on the field and at practices with these girls sharing my passion for the game and all the things that I learned over my 18 years of playing. We were able to travel all over the East Coast, from New York to Ohio to Florida, to play in tournaments. These girls have since grown up (the oldest group being high school seniors this year). Two have gone on to play at the college level, including one at Susquehanna! Another has committed to play at college beginning in the fall of 2016. I could not have realized my passion for the game off the field if not for that injury…as I like to say, while devastating at the time, it was a blessing in disguise!
I'm grateful I continued my volleyball and softball careers at the college level because…
I didn't plan on playing athletics in college. I was recruited by Coach [Kuuipo] Tom for volleyball because he used to run summer volleyball clinics at my high school. I decided late in my senior year that I just couldn't give volleyball up yet, so I committed to play at SU. Near the end of my first volleyball season, I began to think "what's next?" My urge to get back on a softball field was not going away, so I spoke with [former head] coach [Kathy] Kroupa and decided to walk on to the softball team. Years later, I find myself missing the fact that I would never be able to walk out on the court/field in Crusader maroon & orange on game day again. College athletics gave me the opportunity to continue to share my passion for the game for four years longer than I ever expected.
If you had to answer the question "why D3?", what would your answer be?
I wanted to be part of a community and a family, not just part of a team. I wanted to impact the program and the school in a positive way, not be lost in the shuffle. While some think that DIII means less talent and less competition, that's not the case at all. The level of play among divisions is not terribly different. I was able to play with and against incredible, Division I and II caliber, athletes throughout my years in volleyball and softball. Athletes choose DIII not for the scholarship money and perks of being involved in athletics, but for their passion in the game and their commitment to being a part of something bigger than athletics.
Now for a few fun questions!
Life at SU without volleyball and softball would have been…
I would have to say that there are two answers to that question…
(1) Boring! Though I hated the 10-hour days of volleyball preseason and waking up for 6am softball practices, I can't imagine life at SU without sports. I was always busy, but that's how I liked to be. Plus, being that busy kept me out of (mostly) trouble!
(2) Completely different… I met every single one of my best friends from college through Susquehanna athletics. We did everything together as a team, especially while we were in season. I still keep in touch with many of my old teammates and look forward to team reunions (like an upcoming SUVB alumni wedding in June!).
Favorite athletic memory from your playing days?
There are almost too many to choose from, but I would have to say clinching an at-large bid to the NCAA Regional tournament for softball during my sophomore season. The coaches and team gathered in the Apple Room to wait for the results. We heard our name and the room went crazy! We got to travel to Newport News, Va. for the Regional Tournament, which is a level most athletes never make it to. I will always appreciate being part of that very special team!
Best piece of advice you got from someone at Susquehanna?
Never be afraid to ask for help. We like to think that we can do it all, but every now and then we need a little help to make it through.
Specific place you miss most, on or off campus?
Bot's on Thursday nights for trivia! This was a weekly event for my group of friends. Most of the time we would be coming straight from practice, dressed in sweatpants, but we couldn't miss trivia. Honestly, we weren't very good, but the owner at Bot's took a liking to our Thursday night loyalties and would sneak us some of the answers. (P.S. We finally won trivia night during Senior Week!)
If I could go back to college, I'd do/see, etc. ______ a lot more often:
If I could go back to college, I wouldn't change a thing… Though I probably should have studied more, now that I think about it.