Small Campus Empowers Big Dreams
Maira Gutierrez, whose immigrant parents speak only Spanish, almost decided not to attend college after high school counselors warned her that she would be on her own. But a motivational talk with her mother led her to Governors State University, where she found the opposite—plenty of staff, faculty and fellow students there to support her.
“If you’re struggling, the amount of help you’re able to get at Governors State is outstanding,” she said. “The support system is awesome.”
Working toward her Bachelor of Science in Accounting, which she received in 2019, Gutierrez thrived, from finding a home in the Honors Program to working in the Financial Aid office. With faculty support, she is pursuing a master's degree, where the skills and knowledge she acquired at GSU will lead her to further success.
Why did you choose GSU?
I liked the welcoming nature of the staff. From the moment I first visited the campus, I felt welcomed and inspired by the amount of support and opportunities promised by everyone I came into contact with. I was also attracted to the small classroom size. And it was close to home, which made it easier to help my family.
What role did GSU play in your success?
Working in the financial aid office really helped me grow and be more open to talking to people. Being in the Honors Program gave me the confidence that I was smart enough. David Rhea, who runs the program, told us it’s OK if you have to work hard—whether that be good grades on papers or concepts in class, which is great to hear.
A course with Michael Trendell got me interested in auditing. He really kept us engaged and even helped me out with problems I had in other classes. And even though I never had a class with David Green, he connected me with my internship at Abbott, which was supported by the Illinois CPA Society’s Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program. Later on, I was able to attend one of their workshops where they help you make connections, tell you how to phrase things on your resume, and give you immediate feedback on mock interviews.
What’s next for you?
I’m working towards my master’s degree. After that, I plan to open my own CPA (Certified Public Accountant) firm.
What are you most proud of when you look back at your GSU experience?
I’m proud to have been in the Honors Program, and I’m extremely pleased I was able to make contributions outside of the classroom as well. Being treasurer of the Association of Latin American Students and the GSU Soccer Club and serving as president of the Bowling Club was a lot of fun. Those were really rewarding experiences that I’ll cherish forever.
What advice would you share with current GSU students?
Take advantage of the many resources GSU offers. It’s a more intimate school, so students can approach their professors, advisors, counselors, peer mentors, and tutors for advice. If you follow the advice of the school’s extraordinary faculty and staff, you really can accomplish your goals and fulfill your dreams.