“Scholarships allowed me to focus on school and academics and not worry about how I would pay for tuition or rent,” says Preciosa Miranda. (Photo courtesy of Preciosa Miranda)

Scholarships Help First-Gen Student Fulfill College Dream, Graduate Debt-Free

By Becky Kramer

Preciosa Miranda graduated from the WSU Carson College in May, becoming the first person in her immediate family to earn a four-year degree.

“Going to college was something I’ve wanted since I was a child,” the Pasco resident says. “As soon as I could work, I started saving for it.”

Scholarships also played a critical role, allowing Miranda to concentrate on her studies and graduate debt-free. A double major in accounting and management information systems, Miranda has a job lined up with KPMG in Seattle.

She recently reflected on her journey to WSU and her Carson College experience.

I grew up working in small family businesses, so I’m very business oriented.

My dad started a Snow Shack business selling shaved ice when he was a teenager. When he moved on from that, my grandma took over and expanded it. Besides selling concessions at events in the Tri-Cities, I helped pick apples in my grandma’s orchard. She let me keep the ones I picked. I went to farmer’s markets with her and kept the profits from what I sold. The money went into my college account.

I took my first accounting classes online at Columbia Basin College through Washington’s Running Start program. I was in high school and basically taught myself from the book. It just clicked.

During tax season, I worked as a receptionist for a Richland accounting firm. People told me accounting is a good degree because it’s so versatile. I liked that. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll do the same job your entire career. Accounting gives me a broad foundation and lots of options.

I added management information systems (MIS) for a double major. Accounting is very by the rules. MIS has a lot of creativity, and it was my hardest major. It teaches you how to dive into data and look at the bigger picture.

Part of the anxiety of coming to college was worrying about whether I could afford it. My parents were very supportive of my decision but were not able to assist me financially. I met three times with a WSU representative, who walked me through the process of applying for grants and scholarships.

My scholarships allowed me to focus on school and academics and not worry about how I would pay for tuition or rent. I spent hours on each coding assignment last semester, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had worked during the school year. Scholarships also gave me time for the college experience. I was active in Beta Alpha Psi, and the club helped me with networking and interviewing for internships.

I was honored to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board my senior year, but all of my scholarships were a tremendous help. I was able to graduate from WSU in three years completely debt-free.

Being a mentor to first-generation students was my most rewarding experience at WSU. As a first-generation student myself, I didn’t know who to talk to about how college works. I had no clue what I was doing—I didn’t even know what a double major was. I became a peer mentor through the Carson EDGE program so I could help other students like me navigate WSU.

I’ll be studying for the CPA exam this summer. I’d like to complete two of the four parts before September, when I start as an auditor with KPMG in Seattle.

Learn more about creating a pathway to excellence by contacting
the Carson College of Business alumni relations team at ccb.development@wsu.edu.