Hometown: Greenwich, Connecticut
Major: Financial Accounting
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration in Financial Accounting
Activities: Works two part-time jobs, one at a reinsurance company and one at a restaurant to pay for college
Honors and Awards: Dean’s List, graduating with honors, cumulative GPA of 3.52, second place in APICS student paper contest
Jesse Rathbun graduated from high school in 2008 and attended Norwalk Community College. Seven years and literally thousands of miles on bicycles and trains later, he is graduating from Western. After changing majors three times, he decided to major in accounting. "First, I knew that accounting had one of the lowest unemployment rates of all majors and I also knew there was a big need for accountants, and the need would be sustained," he says. "Accounting majors will always be in need. This was a big factor for me because I have heard of students graduating with debt and struggling to find a job, which was something I wanted to avoid. I also wanted to find a major that would keep me mentally sharp and encourage a learning environment. I guess you could say that I enjoyed the challenge that accounting provides me while also offering a stable job market."
Rathbun says he decided to come to Western because it gave a lot for the tuition. "I went to Norwalk Community College because I was paying for college on a limited budget," he says. "If it weren’t for financial aid, I wouldn’t have been able to attend college, for which I am very grateful. Once I did as many core classes as I could at NCC, I was advised to attend WCSU for my bachelor’s degree. Without a car, this was definitely a challenge, but I devised a plan: bike to the train station, take three trains to Danbury, then walk to the campus and repeat. WestConn was affordable, and it had a good reputation for accounting, since it boasted a higher-than-average passing rate on the CPA exam on the first try. WestConn was my only option when it came to transferring from NCC because it gave me everything I needed — not too expensive, good reputation and close to the train station."
Rathbun says one thing that helped him overcome all the logistical obstacles was the fact that he had a lot of great friends. "They have been a great support system when I needed help. I have to say, I really owe a lot to them."
Asked what he will remember most about his Western experience, Rathbun says, "One of my best experiences would have to be the time that I won a writing contest. I have always been a 'numbers' kind of guy, and haven’t had much success with writing — and I didn’t have lots of confidence either. But for Operations Management class, I had a big final paper due at the end of the semester that I was worried about submitting. I remember I wrote my paper on my birthday, and I received an email from my professor, Doug Stevens. He told me I got 100 percent and he wanted to enter it in an APICS writing contest. A little while later I learned I had received second place in the contest, which marked the first writing contest I have ever won in my life. Ever since that day, it has given me more confidence in my writing ability."
After graduation, Rathbun plans to take a day or two to relax, then get straight to studying for his CPA exam. "This exam is to become a certified public accountant and is a very important exam for accounting students," he says. "The CPA exam has four parts to it and I will be taking the first in the beginning of July, the second in the beginning of August, the third in the end of August and the fourth sometime in November. I have secured a full-time position for audit at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), which I will start in January 2016. They have been nice enough to pay for CPA prep courses from Becker’s CPA Review, which I will be taking over the summer to prepare for the exam. My main objective is to pass all parts of the CPA exam before I start at PwC."
Rathbun’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “I have faced so many struggles along the way that not many people have to deal with. I didn’t have a car to get to school; I had to bike to the train station three miles at 8 a.m. and home at 11:14 p.m. (when the train gets to Greenwich). I have a two-to-three hour commute one way, and I’ve had to work two jobs to pay for college myself. It has been very tough for me, and in the beginning of starting college I made so many excuses to not move forward. I remember when I was attending NCC and contemplating transferring to WestConn, but didn’t know how I would manage getting there and paying for tuition as it was more expensive than community college. I made every excuse I could possibly think of to convince myself not to go. I realized that this was holding me back and that if I were to move forward in life, I would have to stop making excuses. From the moment I transferred to WestConn, I vowed that I would not make any excuses because I realized how badly they can get in your way of moving forward in life. Having realized this was the best thing I could have done, and I would like to give that advice to incoming WCSU freshman. No matter what the odds are or hurdles in your way, do not make any excuses and keep moving forward. When you stop making excuses, you will be absolutely surprised at what you can accomplish because nothing will stand in your way. This brings me to the final advice I would give incoming freshmen, which is the second thing I have stood by in completing college: what you put into anything, is what you will get out. If you put in all of your effort, what you will get out of it is a great deal. If you do not put in a lot of effort, you won’t get much out of it. Hard work will definitely pay off, so take college seriously and put in your full effort, make no excuses and you can achieve more than you have ever imagined.”