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Xero’s accounting scholarship goes to…

Posted 6 years ago in Advisors by Beeny Atherton
Posted by Beeny Atherton

Supporting young people early in their careers has always been a matter close to Xero’s heart. Earlier this year, we started thinking about new ways to help young adults succeed in the accounting sphere. So we decided to offer a $5,000 finance, economics or accounting scholarship to a student majoring in one or more of these subjects.

We received so many fantastic entries that it was difficult to pick just one winner. However in the end we had to choose the incredibly deserving Alisha McGoldrick of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Not only did Alisha submit a glowing recommendation and an impressive GPA, she also wrote a fantastic essay. It describes the obstacles she overcame in order to study accounting, along with a clear passion to make a difference in the industry.

Alisha has kindly agreed to let us share her story with you, in the hope it inspires others with mental disorders to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.

The troubled mind of a tax accountant

Alisha McGoldrick is the first winner of Xero's accounting scholarship

Congratulations to Alisha, our extremely deserving scholarship winner.

By Alisha McGoldrick

The word “crazy” can be hurtful and offensive to some, yet remains powerfully accurate in describing one’s emotions. I was convinced that I was crazy when I had to drive six times  around the same block to make sure there was not a dead body in the road. Even then, I went home and hyperventilated until I cried myself to sleep. Welcome to my world; a world  dominated by an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Throughout high school and college, my mental health took a backseat to everything else in my life. Eventually it became unbearable to complete everyday tasks. I would spend hours checking to make sure the door was locked and the stove was off. I feared hurting something or someone, and I believed that these rituals would prevent harm. It took a great deal of therapy and medication, but I am now in a better place than I was two years ago. I am now able to work two jobs and go to school full-time, which I never dreamed possible a short while ago. One of these jobs has been a saving grace in my struggle with anxiety, and happens to be quite the ironic workplace.

I landed a job as an Office Administrator working for a single psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety. I vowed to keep my professional and personal life separate and did not vocalize my own anxiety, lest it get in the way of serving the patients of this organization. I was given the opportunity to learn QuickBooks and put my accounting acumen to good use. I was determined to use my illness in a positive manner, and applied my OCD to double and triple checking insurance amounts and client balances to ensure perfection when engaging in billing services. I am responsible for all financial matters of this small business, which comes with a great deal of stress. This job is where I realized that I actually enjoy researching the tax implications of classifying different purchases, and I decided that I would pursue a career in public accounting.

My ultimate goal is to utilize my expertise to make life easier for those who struggle with OCD and other mental disorders. I know what they are going through. I know what it feels like to want to die some days. I am lucky enough to have survived the struggles of a mental disability, and I would like to help others through the tribulations I have conquered. Taxes are extremely stressful, and financial planning can take a mental toll. I would like to achieve my CPA licensure and use my expertise to specialize in individual tax planning and compliance in hopes of alleviating financial stress for individuals.

I hope to accomplish this goal alongside a career in a public accounting firm, since I am currently participating in a summer internship in the tax service line at a “big four” accounting firm and am thoroughly enjoying both the office culture and client work. The world of accounting remains cloaked in corporate bureaucracy, and although there is a push to focus on diversity and other pressing issues, there is still room for growth when it comes to transparency in the work-life balance of accountants. Accounting students are told horror stories of 70 hour work weeks during busy season, and although that is meant to be a hyperbole, it is not too far off from the truth. Accountants are definitely overworked during certain seasons, and that takes a tremendous toll on any given employee. An employee with a mental health difficulties may not be able to handle the pressure, and may end up sacrificing their own health for the sake of their career.

I will make a difference in this field by breaking down barriers and stigmas regarding mental disorders and initiating a discussion involving mental health. It is my mission to serve others with similar issues and spark the conversation amongst the accounting profession regarding understanding of individuals with mental health concerns. I may be “crazy”, but I believe that I have the power to change the lives of troubled accountants and individuals everywhere.

To Alisha – a huge thank you for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the best for your studies and an exciting, successful career!


Teresa Johnson
October 2, 2014 at 4.12 pm

Congratulations Alisha! It sounds like you are a very deserving recipient of the scholarship. No matter what challenges anyone faces in their life, be it physical, mental, social, economic etc, your story reminds us that we each have the power to not be defined by any single character within ourselves. That a positive and constructive mindset can open a world of possibilities and opportunities. I look forward to following your story and wish you all the very best for your studies. You will be one to watch I am sure.

Gayle Buchanan
October 2, 2014 at 5.32 pm

Ditto Teresa – nicely put – hope all good over the bridge

Elizabeth Salter
October 3, 2014 at 3.14 pm

Congratulations, Alisha & thank you for sharing your story. Very best wishes for your dreams & goals.

David Kime
October 3, 2014 at 9.58 pm

How wonderful that Alisha has spoken out about mental issues. I too suffer from anxiety and depression and for years tried to cover it up. I now started talk openly about it and it is amazing how many people are suffering in silence. Talking is the first stage on the road to living a happy and content life with the illness, and my door and heart is always open to those who want to speak to me about it.

Well done and so richly deserved, and well done Xero for not being afraid to publish this.

Nancy L. Fisher
October 4, 2014 at 5.02 pm

Alisha is a true inspiration and the real deal – I was so moved after reading her story (advised of this article by my brother-in-law) I have made my first appointment with my doctor. It amazes me how some transcend mental barriers where others (like me) sit in isolation and fear. Thank you so much for your story and you are such a beautiful young woman. You touched my life.

Shirley Heminover
October 8, 2014 at 1.47 pm

Alisha, you are a very inspiring young woman. I was talking with your Grandpa,Dave Heminover, the other day. Dave is my older brother. We were talking about the future if our country. I’m an optimist, and feel that we have many young people that will make great positive changes in our world. I know Dave thinks you are a magnificent person. Little did I know that you are one of the brilliant young people that I believe will be our salvation. Since I have read your essay, I can most definitely be assured that our future is in good hands. Keep up your spectacular mission in life. And always be your sterling self. Best in life to you always. With love, your great aunt Shirley.

Alisha McGoldrick
October 29, 2014 at 3.49 pm

Thank you all so much for your kind words! I am so grateful that I received the opportunity to share my story, and the reactions have been very positive and inspiring. I hope to work towards my career goals and continue the conversation around the stigmas of mental health. Thank you again to Xero for your support as well!

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