Student Success Stories:

Missouri State-West Plains Student Success Story

New Beginnings … Endless Possibilities

Alyssa Dillon

Alyssa DillonAlyssa Dillon discovered a whole new language while attending Missouri State University-West Plains – accounting, "the language of business."

The Tecumseh resident and 2016 homeschool graduate is on track to graduate this summer with an Associate of Science in Business. She chose the degree, she said, after discovering her passion for accounting.

"I'm a pretty organized individual, and I've always been really good at math," Dillon explained. "In accounting, it's all about staying organized and knowing where the numbers go. Then, as I got more into it, it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be, and I ended up enjoying it more."

Her decision to pursue a career in accounting came while she was writing a research paper on careers in her Writing I (ENG 110) class. "We were asked to research what the future of a certain career was like, and I chose accounting," she explained. "It was something I had considered, and I saw that it was a good career choice. And, after looking at the day-to-day aspects of the career, it really appealed to me, so I switched my major to accounting."

Taking Introduction to Financial Accounting (ACC 201) with Instructor Dasha Russell just solidified Dillon's decision. "That course made me realize just how much I enjoyed accounting," she said.

"It's interesting to see how a business functions just by looking at the numbers," she explained. "They call accounting 'the language of business,' and to understand business in that way was a big draw for me.

"By looking at the numbers, you can tell if a business is profitable or struggling, you can tell what kind of industry the business is in," Dillon added. "You can really communicate with other departments of a business through the numbers."

Dillon's business interests eventually led her to Missouri State-West Plains' student business organization, Phi Beta Lambda (PBL). Although she just joined PBL this spring, she's already had success at the PBL State Leadership Conference in April at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.

"I placed fourth in Accounting Principles and third in Microeconomics. Now, I'm going to be able to go to nationals in Baltimore in Microeconomics," she said.

"It's only been a month, but it's been so exciting and so much has happened already," she added. "You get to be around other people who are majoring in business, and it helps prepare you for the business world. It's been a lot of fun."

In addition to her PBL activities, Dillon also has been interning at the local accounting firm Shultz, Wood and Rapp during the tax season. "It's been hectic, but it's been amazing," she said, pointing out she learned about the opportunity through Russell.

After graduation, Dillon plans to transfer to the University of Missouri in Columbia to pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting, as well as be closer to her boyfriend, who is in medical school at A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Kirksville and has been assigned rotations at a hospital in Jefferson City. Ultimately, she said, she would like to become a certified public accountant (CPA) and work in a firm.

"I'm already having some experience with it through my internship," she said. "I've seen what it's like working with different clients and learned what responsibilities I would have as a CPA. It's made me more confident in wanting to become a CPA."

Dillon feels fully prepared to take the next step in her education. "By attending a smaller school, I've been able to have more one-on-one time with my instructors, especially Ms. Russell. She's really been able to help me understand what it's like to pursue an accounting degree, what steps I need to take and what I need to work on.

"I feel like West Plains has really prepared me to move on to a four-year university like Mizzou," Dillon added. "For students coming from a homeschool background or a small high school, Missouri State-West Plains is a good stepping stone. You get that one-on-one interaction with professors, and it lays a very strong foundation for moving to a larger university."