Gailene Gumbs

Accounting 2016
CPA at Ernst & Young

In order to build a house, it is vital the structure rests on a solid foundation so as to prevent collapse. The same can be applied to just about any situation in life, but especially education and a career, which is exactly what Gailene Gumbs set out to accomplish when she enrolled at Hodges University.

“I always wanted to further my education, but personal barriers hindered me. In hindsight, I realize some of those stemmed from a lack of knowledge,” Gumbs explained.

As a student in Hodges’ Bachelor of Science in accounting program, Gumbs was apprehensive about returning to school after 11 years. Not only had she graduated high school while living in another country, Trinidad, but she was also facing obstacles many adult learners experience – the uncertainty of her own capabilities, time management and even changes in the way students learn.

“I do credit my supervisor, Arames Graham, whom I met while working at Comcast, for encouraging me to return to school. He was also attending Hodges at the time and convinced me that my situation was not entirely hopeless,” she said. “He told me about Hodges being geared toward working adults and encouraged me to take advantage of the company’s investment in tuition reimbursement. He also gave me a good lecture on barriers versus excuses and taking that first step.”

In a previous position with AAA Steel Fabricators, Gumbs learned about bookkeeping and discovered she enjoyed it, which led her to choose accounting as her major, saying, “I didn’t know much about the accounting profession until starting at Hodges, but I realized it was similar to what I had done in the past and there was much more to it. I was also very good at it, so after doing some online research and speaking to professors and industry professionals, I felt this was the best choice for me.”

Admitting she looked at other schools, she discovered Hodges provided the flexibility she needed. As a full-time employee at Comcast, maintaining a comfortable balance between work and school became crucial, as did the support from those around her.

Not only did she receive support from her supervisor, but once she enrolled in 2013, the additional encouragement from her professors gave her the drive to push forward on her educational journey.

Hodges’ program chair of accounting, Dr. Miguel Rivera, assisted Gumbs in her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

“Dr. Miguel Rivera was by far the most instrumental in helping me to achieve my success. He helped me to remain motivated when the work got challenging, he encouraged me to not quit, and he helped me to realize I was much better than I gave myself credit for,” she said. In addition, Gumbs recalled Rivera taking time out of his Saturdays to help his students study for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam, saying, “that dedication speaks volumes.”

Prior to graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2016, Gumbs began networking with industry professionals, joining the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA), as a way to connect with individuals who could potentially assist her finding work in the field. She even became a student ambassador for FICPA and participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

“I reached out and connected with people. I explained what I was trying to accomplish. As a result, I got access to opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had, including interning at Deloitte, meeting other accounting students from different schools and learning about their experiences. I was also able to use some of my contacts as references when I started applying for positions,” she explained. “Working alongside accounting professionals was a benefit because it allowed me to get hands-on experience dealing with the public, and they provided me with constructive, professional feedback. The experience also helped to boost my confidence.”

After earning her degree from Hodges, Gumbs went on to earn a master’s degree at Indiana University and plans to begin a full-time position in the fraud investigation and dispute services department with Ernst & Young in New York City in fall 2018.

Recently passing the CPA exam, she credits Hodges for providing the foundational knowledge needed to begin her challenging career in accounting, saying, “My Hodges education has had a positive impact on my career and who I am today. It gave me the foundation I needed to get to a better place in life. Before, I felt like I was going nowhere with no purpose. Now, I feel like I can really make a difference. Accounting in itself is a challenging career that requires dedication and a lot of technical skills, so earning this degree was a huge accomplishment.”

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