Accounting scholarship winner finds right balance between hockey, school and internships

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Caitlin McGuirl
Caitlin McGuirl

KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 27, 2019 – Caitlin McGuirl’s path to the University of Rhode Island may have been preordained.

A resident of South Kingstown, R.I., McGuirl grew up playing ice hockey at Boss Ice Arena on the Kingston Campus, and URI’s commencement last spring was the continuation of a family tradition. Her father, Bob, graduated from URI in 1990 and her older sister, Casey, in 2018.

McGuirl, who earned a degree in accounting in the spring, will continue her URI journey this fall as she begins graduate studies in the URI College of Business in pursuit of a career as a certified public accountant. That quest received some help recently when she was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. McGuirl is the second URI student – and second in two years – to earn a scholarship from the board in its eight years.

“The scholarship means so much to me and I was very proud when I learned that I was a recipient,” says McGuirl. “This scholarship will help me tremendously financially. It gives me the ability to focus on school for the next year and allow me to spend my free time preparing for the CPA exams with the hope of completing all four parts before starting a full-time job.”

Free time isn’t something McGuirl has in abundance. Along with being a dean’s list student, she has been a four-year member of the women’s club hockey team. McGuirl began playing hockey in elementary school and went on to compete in high school as part of a coop team representing South Kingstown, North Kingstown and Narragansett.

“My parents have always encouraged schooling and to get as much out of it as possible while finding a comfortable balance,” she says. “Playing hockey has helped me to manage my time between school, hockey and an internship by giving me structure during the season.”

With Ram hockey practices in the afternoon, McGuirl has been able to take morning classes and then get her head out of her books at the rink, before heading to the library with teammates in the evening. She took care of business on both ends. A defenseman, she scored six goals in 23 games this past season, led the team with three power-play goals, and was an American Collegiate Hockey Association academic all-American.

“I enjoy the camaraderie and the personal growth that comes from playing on a team,” says McGuirl. “Club sports allow for five years of eligibility, so I’ll be able to play as I complete my master’s degree.”

Even with time dedicated to hockey, McGuirl not only completed her bachelor’s degree in four years, but with 150 credit hours – 30 more than required. She entered URI with 14 credits completed in high school, but also took extra classes each school year. “It was well worth the time and effort,” she says. “The extra courses allowed me to take some classes that interested me outside of the College of Business, including kinesiology, anatomy and nutrition.”

The 150 credit hours already fulfill that required by most states to sit for the CPA exam – a requirement most students finish up in graduate school.

Her achievements impressed Judy Beckman, a URI accounting professor and director of the master’s degree program, who nominated McGuirl for the scholarship.

“For a student to excel at her sport the way she has and be such an outstanding student, that just puts those students at that top level, and she’s academically curious enough to challenge herself by seeking a master of science degree even when she already has the 150 credit hours,” Beckman says.

McGuirl credits her mother, Mary, a Providence College graduate in business who works for South County Hospital in the diagnostic imaging department, for her own interest in business.

“I had an interest in it when I first started at URI,” she says, “but I had no idea what type of business degree I wanted to pursue. The accounting classes that I took throughout my undergraduate career and the insight my professors provided solidified my interest in accounting.”

This summer, McGuirl has been a financial accounting intern at the Washington Trust Company in Westerly, assisting in bank reconciliations, journal entries and financial statements. She’s also started studying for a section of the CPA exam.

This fall, she will begin work toward her master’s degree while her sister Casey, a communicative disorders major, also starts graduate school at URI. McGuirl plans to have her CPA exams finished by the time she starts full-time work in November 2020. She’s already been hired by Sansiveri, Kimball & Co., in Providence, where she interned last spring.

“My time at URI has been really great. The faculty and staff have been incredibly supportive and encouraging and I have learned so much about myself these last four years,” she says. “I am amazed how quickly time has gone by.”