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Kim Winward balances motherhood while enrolled in online master’s degree program

At the suggestion of her math teacher at Malad High School, Kim Winward gave accounting a try as a freshman in college. “I said that I wanted to start my own business,” she said. “I had a counselor suggest that I instead do the business management program and get some accounting, then chose which way to go.

“When I took my first accounting class, I said, ‘Uh, no way.’ It was so hard. It was like a foreign language. Later on, when I started doing more accounting, I said, ‘This isn’t that hard. It makes sense.’”

That math teacher had the equation right. After working in the accounting field since 2014, Winward enrolled in Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Accountancy last year. She is an accountant for Sunroc Construction in Idaho Falls, where she has worked since 2019.

“I started as an accounting clerk out of school and stayed in the accounting realm for all these years,” she said. “I wanted to go to school to solidify it. I feel like I can speak the language now, so I wanted to go further with it. That’s why I started pursuing another degree.

“I debated between my master’s degree or a second bachelor’s degree. It depended on what kind of program I could do online that would be flexible and would be easy to continue working full-time while I did it. Boise State’s program is perfect.”

Winward also had a daughter four months ago, so the flexibility of the online format is especially important for her and her spouse, Melissa.

“Earning a degree online has been great,” she said. “I was going to be done two semesters earlier, but then I had a baby. I couldn’t do two classes at once, so I pushed it back. I’ve got a lot going on.”

Active Participation

After high school, Winward graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management from BYU-Idaho in 2014. She enrolled at Boise State eight years later.

“I love the online program,” she said. “When I looked around, a lot of other schools didn’t look like they had the accreditations I need to be qualified to be a CPA in my state.

“When I found Boise State, it was a clear choice. It’s a university in Idaho that would meet the requirements. I don’t plan on leaving Idaho. It seemed to be the most accredited school for the area. It checked all of the boxes for me.”

The foundations path, for students without an undergrad degree in accounting, was a great path for Winward. She plans to sit for the CPA exam once she graduates in Summer 2025.

“I am pretty sure you have to have so many credits before you can even sit for it. As soon as I’m done with my last course, I’ll take it.

“I’ll start prepping and doing practice exams during my last semester. Before I started the program, I talked to an accountant who told me to take it as soon as I finish school. Hopefully, I’ll be prepared for it after doing this program.”

So far, Winward has especially enjoyed the tax courses in the online Master of Science in Accountancy curriculum. She looks forward to taking Foundations in Federal Income Taxation.

“I like all of the courses, but I especially liked Personal Financial Planning,” she said. “It was a great class. I am in Tax and Accounting Research now. I like that one, too. I haven’t had a class that I didn’t enjoy.”

Winward is also using the knowledge she gains in the program in her career, giving her immediate return on investment.

“It’s crazy how much I have already been able to apply,” she said. “It’s not a daily thing, but even in communicating with the accounting firm that handles our taxes for the business, I can communicate with CPAs and understand what they’re saying.

“It’s great to have the knowledge to do that. Also, just to be able to do more than I was doing before for the company has been great. I’m learning a lot.”

Incentives Adding Up

As she balances work, motherhood and school, Winward looks forward to expanding her knowledge and becoming a CPA.

“My career plan is to stay at the company I am with,” she said. “I don’t necessarily need a CPA to do that, but it adds value.

“It’s something I would like to have. If something ever happened to this company, there’s that other option. The plan is to pass it so I can have the accreditation.”

Winward will be the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree. Although it’s a busy time in her life, she is relishing the opportunity to return to college without sacrificing time away from home.

“Boise State has provided me with good value,” she said. “My family and friends are excited and very supportive. It might be a fun trip over to Boise to walk at graduation. I’ll have to see.”
As a first-time online student, Winward also recognizes the importance of staying on top of her schoolwork.

“You have to make sure that you are able to learn independently and hold yourself accountable,” she said. “Online is definitely different. It has so many advantages, but you have to hold yourself accountable to go through that material and learn it. You can’t put it off until the last day. It’s a real class. It’s important to not procrastinate and be able to be an independent learner to succeed.”

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