School of Business Administration

Completion scholarship assists first-gen student to graduate debt-free

icon of a calendarMay 26, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Rene Wisely

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Completion scholarship assists first-gen student to graduate debt-free

Matt Guarashio in a blue suit and yellow tie.
The completion scholarship from Crestmark Bank is one of the many ways OU helped Matt Guarashio, ACC '19, succeed.

Matt Guarashio, ACC ’19, understood the value of a dollar before setting foot in an accounting classroom. As a first-generation college student, he knew he would be paying for college himself. That is why Guarashio carefully evaluated every university that accepted him. After reviewing the merit scholarship package OU offered and studying the opportunities OU provides its students and alumni, the Clinton Township, Michigan, resident committed to a Golden Grizzly future.

Guarashio graduated — debt free — in December 2019, with a full-time offer to join PwC as an assurance associate this fall. As a student, he put his public accounting skills to work as an intern at PwC and his corporate accounting skills in a co-op position at DTE Energy. Scholarships were pivotal to his success, he says, particularly the ones he received from the business school near graduation.

Taking a semester off to complete his PwC internship pushed back his graduation date beyond four years. The scholarship package he received his freshman year had ended, so he scrambled to apply for more scholarships.

“When I started as a freshman, I had a Monday through Friday job. It was difficult balancing everything,” he says. He did not want to return to that schedule to fund his final term. While he had some money saved, he says, “It would have wiped me out.”

Guarashio applied for and won a Crestmark Bank scholarship, which was established with the Oakland University business school in 2016 to mark the bank’s 20th anniversary and to assist students with financial need who are pursuing a career in business. “I woke up my mom in the middle of the night when I learned I won it,” he says. “She was happy for me.”

This completion scholarship is one of many ways OU helped him succeed, Guarashio says. The additional financial support allowed him time to participate in Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), the honorary accounting fraternity, where he served as treasurer. In that role, he often worked with Donna Free, the faculty director of OU’s accounting program, whom he calls his most influential instructor at OU.

“Matt organized funding for our many activities,” Free says. “He is extremely reliable and accurate and will definitely make OU proud as an alum in the accounting profession.”

The scholarships opened many doors. Guarashio took advantage of the flexibility to enhance his business education with co- and extra-curricular experiences. In addition to BAP, he was involved in the Oakland Accounting Students Information Society (OASIS), Business Ambassador program and Leadership OU. As a Business Ambassador, Guarashio practiced his leadership skills leading workshops and representing the business school at student and alumni events.

“If I would have attended a different university, I don’t think I would have had all these opportunities,” he says. By working campus and career-related jobs, living at home and securing scholarships, Guarashio fully appreciates the opportunities that helped him to graduate debt free.

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