By Linda Relyea
ALAMOSA— Nestled in a high mountain valley, Adams State University, a state-supported public school, is located in Alamosa, population 10,000. A private school, the University of Denver (DU), located in a metropolis, boasts of a student population of 10,000 on its 200-acre campus.
Despite the size difference and difference in location, the two universities have found a way to build a lasting partnership. Thanks to Sheryl Abeyta, Adams State assistant professor of accounting, every year students cross the commencement platform at Adams State in the spring and then pass through the doorway to the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in the fall, ready to begin the next chapter in their great stories.
The vast majority of Adams State accounting alumni who attend the DU Graduate Tax Program receive at least a 50 percent scholarship, with many receiving even higher awards.
Sergio Mendoza received his Bachelor of Science at the Spring 2019 Adams State Commencement Ceremony. He appreciates his amazing accounting professors, Abeyta and Natalie Rogers, assistant professor of business. “With the help of the great accounting program here at Adams State, I will attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law on a significant scholarship, with very little out-of-pocket costs.”
The relationship between the two universities began nine years ago, when Abeyta recommended one of her graduating accounting students for the DU Graduate Tax program. This year eight will attend. “I only recommend those I know will be successful in the program,” Abeyta said.
Along with teaching the technical aspect of accounting, Abeyta mentors students like Mendoza and encourages soon-to-be graduates to continue their education.
“My accounting professors provided me with resources such as internships, scholarship and graduate school opportunities in order to help me advance exponentially in my future careers and endeavors,” Medonza said.
Also an Adams State alumna, Abeyta received her master’s from the DU program after working as a professional accountant for more than 20 years. Her professional experience counts heavily in the classroom.
When they get to DU, Adams State accounting alumni are in a classroom with professional attorneys and accountants who received their degrees from larger, more prestigious universities. “They quickly learn they are on level footing and are every bit as good as anyone else in that program,” Abeyta said.
San Luis Valley natives and Adams State School of Business alumni Kelly Lamb and Jonathan Marquez received their master’s degrees from the DU program. “I can confidently say that myself, and the other Adams State student I attended the program with, where just as prepared, if not better prepared, than any other student in the program, some of whom came from top 10 accounting undergraduate programs,” Marquez said.
Lamb agrees: “I felt like I knew more about accounting than most of my peers at DU. Sheryl Abeyta and Natalie Rogers are great professors.”
Transitioning from Adams State to Denver University wasn’t as traumatic as Lamb first imagined. “I am from Creede, so I would say the program can be intimidating to someone from a small school like Adams, especially for valley kids. But once I was in the program, it didn’t really take long to adjust.”
Lamb passed the Certified Public Accounting exam right after graduating from DU and worked at Deloitte for a year in Miami. “I am now in Austin working with my boyfriend on a dream of building an alternative medicine practice.”
The DU Graduate Tax Program has a strong track record of job placement for their graduates. After four years in public accounting, Marquez recently entered the industry as a senior tax analyst for VMware, a large Silicon Valley-based cloud computing and platform virtualization software company. “The accounting program at Adams State is truly a high caliber program and rivals that of much larger state and private institutions.”
Abeyta has a passion for Adams State, the accounting program and especially her students. “I am our students’ biggest cheerleader. They hear 100 voices saying they can’t, I show them they can. They can get into law school and receive a scholarship.”