BS in Accounting Major, Campus Leader Targets C-Suite Role in Career
Meet Allyson Musser, a Saint Leo University senior BS in accounting major who has held leadership roles on campus and is aiming to become a CFO someday.
Allyson Musser would love to add “CFO” to her title someday. ON the brink of completing her BS in accounting degree from Saint Leo University, she is building the foundation to achieve this C-suite role in her career.
Nicknamed “Ally” for short, the 21-year-old senior is a native of Dade City, FL but spent many years living elsewhere until returning to the area in 2018. Her younger sister, Alexis, is also a freshman at Saint Leo in the bachelor’s in nursing degree program. Their family has a Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, and Labrador Retriever.
A 2020 alumna of Pasco High School, Musser completed several dual-enrollment courses through Pasco-Hernando State College. She graduated high school with one full year of college under her belt. She explains why Saint Leo University was her top choice for higher education.
“I had always known about Saint Leo,” Musser says. “I wanted to go to a smaller school close to home. I feel like I’m a better student in smaller classes. I’m really big on building relationships with my professors because, at the end of the day, they will be the ones who help you out in the long run. They also offered me lots of financial aid.”
She began her freshman year at Saint Leo University in the fall of 2020.
Her original major was education. However, she transitioned to the BS in accounting degree program and felt like it was a better fit for her academically.
“I always loved math in school,” she explains. “During my senior year of high school, I got the opportunity to tutor students at Wesley Chapel Elementary School since I wanted to be a math teacher at the time. I even got the chance to go back there in college as a substitute teacher. Plus, I would tutor some of my peers in high school.”
While she has a passion for teaching, she quickly realized that going into accounting made more sense. According to Musser, after taking a Principles of Accounting course with Dr. Daniel Tschopp, a professor of accounting, she knew she had made the right call.
“I absolutely fell in love with the major after taking this class,” she says.
Along with Tschopp, Prof. Christopher Weaver, an adjunct instructor of accounting, helped connect her to an internship opportunity. Several other faculty members who teach in the BS in accounting degree program have encouraged her as well.
“The accounting department as a whole has been fantastic,” she says. “The professors have all been such great resources to me as a student. The exposure to the accounting field they provide in the classroom is amazing. A big reason for this is that they all come from experience working in the field. They want you to thrive both inside & outside of the classroom. They will also do everything in their power to help you get practical experience through internships and jobs.”
In terms of hands-on opportunities, she got to assist in the Volunteer Income Tax Association (VITA) program on campus. Operated by the IRS, VITA provides free income tax preparation services to elderly and low-income individuals. Saint Leo accounting faculty and students have supported the program.
Now in her final semester, Musser is on track to collect her diploma in May.
She lived on campus for part of her college career, adding that the convenience opened many doors for her to get involved in campus life. She has served as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader in the Center for Academic Vision and Excellence (CAVE). This role involves tutoring fellow students. Recreationally, she has competed in a few intramural sports, including softball, volleyball, and basketball. In her free time, she enjoys making t-shirts and crafting.
She admits she did not know Saint Leo had Greek Life on campus when she started college. After attending a club fair, she learned about the Delta Upsilon chapter of the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority.
“Some of the members explained the mission and goals of Alpha Sigma Tau,” she recalls. “I then went for formal recruitment in the spring of 2021. It was such a welcoming environment and really helped me with my social life.”
Founded in 1899, Alpha Sigma Tau supports a number of causes, including Dress for Success and Girls Who Code. Locally, the Delta Upsilon chapter lends a hand to the Thomas Promise Foundation. Saint Leo University has the only chapter of the sorority in Florida.
Musser would go on to serve as president of the sorority chapter from August of 2021 through December of 2022. When she took over as president, the chapter had 11 members. She and her fellow officers helped double membership to 22.
“If I hadn’t had that role, I wouldn’t have pushed myself as much to be involved in campus activities,” she confides. “The experience has helped shape me as a person in so many ways.”
Holding the office of president provided her with countless opportunities to gain leadership experience.
“In leadership roles, you can be easily influenced and swayed by others. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for the organization as a whole. I have learned how to stay true to myself and my decisions.”
In 2022, she was lucky enough to attend the Alpha Sigma Tau national convention, an event which was conveniently held in Tampa.
“It was neat to see what AST has done for people from all over the country,” she recalls. “When you go to an event like this, you feel like you’ve known everyone for years.”
She has continued to serve the chapter as the director of collegiate alumni engagement. Plus, she has collaborated on events with some of the fraternities and was even recently named “Sweetheart of Kappa Sigma.” Last year, she and fellow members also participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.
She points to community and personal development as being the top Saint Leo core values for her.
“When you’re on campus, you feel like you’re at home. There is always someone I can turn to for support. I never feel like a small fish in a big sea here. From the professors to the staff, they’re all there to pitch in as much as they can to ensure we have a great experience as students. If it weren’t for the people at Saint Leo, I definitely wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.”
And what would she tell a prospective student about how to take full advantage of a college education?
“Don’t be afraid to take chances and step outside of your comfort zone,” she advises. “Take the initiative to meet people and network. Being intentional about what you want to get out of college is so important. Saint Leo offers so many opportunities to help you grow.”
Musser is already putting her Saint Leo BS in accounting degree to good use. In August of 2022, she began working as an assurance intern for CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, a large professional services firm, at its Lakeland, FL location. Her role involves handling accounting for state and local government agencies.
“The Saint Leo accounting department brought them on campus for interviews, and I got to speak with some of their team members.”
Prof Weaver, one of her instructors in the BS in accounting program, also happens to work for the firm. Thus far, she has nothing but positive things to say about her experience.
“Their vision is to treat everyone like family,” she says. “They have a very welcoming environment, and they want to help guide you in your career. Even though I’m an intern, I don’t feel like one at all. I think I fit in quite well and feel like a valued member of the team.”
She explains the true impact of an internship and how it can help give students a much better idea of their career interests.
“In the classroom, you learn so much, but you realize how much you haven’t experienced in the ‘real world’ when you actually do an internship,” she says. “Getting this real-world, hands-on experience has helped grow my love for the accounting field. I love the work I do and hope to land a full-time job in this field.”
After attaining her bachelor’s degree, Musser intends to go on for a Master of Accounting degree from Saint Leo University and sit for the CPA exam. Her long-term goal is to become a chief financial officer (CFO).
Regardless of where her career path leads, she considers herself a servant to others.
“If there is any way I can give back to others, I try to do so,” she says.
Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Allyson Musser and are used with permission.