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April 16, 2024 5:14 pm

Mount Olive grad parlays stellar academic career into new position

MOUNT OLIVE – From her desk, located on the 15th floor of the Bank America Corporation building, Chassidy Hodge has a birds-eye view of the Raleigh skyline. “I definitely love the view,” she said. “The traffic, well, that has taken some getting used to,” she smiled.

The 22-year old Johnston County native is a May 2023 graduate of the University of Mount Olive (UMO) where she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting. During the summer of her junior and senior years, Hodge interned with Johnson Lambert LLP, a CPA and consulting firm, focused on serving distinct industry niches.

A typical internship day included completing auditing procedures, testing, selecting samples, attending progress meetings, and drafting insurance industry audit plans. These experiences, coupled with her educational background at UMO, helped Hodge land a fulltime position within the firm. She will start that new role as an Audit Associate in August of 2024, after completing her master’s degree.

Talking about her internship experience Hodge said, “One of my biggest takeaways was the knowledge that if you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room. There will always be someone else smarter than you are. That was hard for me to learn, because I excelled so well in school. Being surrounded by such intelligent professionals in the accounting field made me realize that it’s a blessing to have that resource of knowledge around you. It keeps me inspired to become as knowledgeable as they have become.”

From an early age, Hodge soaked up numbers like a sponge to water. “I always loved math,” she shared. She took every math North Johnston High School offered, and always loved the problem solving. During her junior year, she signed up for her first accounting class. “The concepts came rather easy to me, and my teacher inspired me to take the next step and study accounting in college.”

Hodge credits her parents and grandparents for the motivation and support to pursue higher education. With a stellar academic record, Hodge had the opportunity to consider many universities, but UMO is the only place she applied. “As soon as I toured the campus, back in 2019, I knew that I wanted to attend UMO,” she said.

Born in the small town of Kenly, Hodge was raised by her grandparents. “I had the best childhood anyone could ask for,” she shared.

However, Hodge had to grow up fast. Her grandmother passed away when Hodge was just 13. “I had to take on responsibilities at home,” she recalls. “It was tough going through my teenage years dealing with that grief and having to mature quickly to help at home while still maintain my schooling.”

Throughout high school, Hodge worked a part-time job. She also cheered all four years. She had done all the right things. She studied hard, made good grades, and was involved in extra-curricular activities. Yet, when it came time to apply for colleges, she realized funding her education would be a hardship. “I had no college savings prepared for me, and unfortunately my grandfather was still in debt from my grandmother’s hospital bills. I was determined to go to college without having to take out loans or burden any of my family for help.”

At the University of Mount Olive, Hodge received several institutional scholarships including Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, cheerleading, and the UMO Presidential Scholarship. A member of Micro Original Free Will Baptist Church, she also received an OFWB scholarship. In addition, Hodge annually received scholarship funds from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation. To complete her financial package, the hard working Hodge worked in UMO’s Financial Aid Office under the Federal Work Study Program.

“Because of these wonderful scholarships and opportunities I was not only able to be a first generation college student, but also to graduate debt free,” she expressed. “I am beyond blessed. I would not be where I am today without the people around me and my life experiences to push me to make something better of myself and to one day be in the position to help my family.”

Although her grandmother was not alive to see her graduate, Hodge said, “I know that she would be so proud of what I am doing.”

Proud indeed! In addition to graduating with a 3.9 GPA, enrolling in graduate school, and landing a coveted position at a reputable accounting firm, Hodge received the UMO Accounting Student of the Year Award for 2023.

I am so humbled,” she said. “I want to thank all the staff from the UMO Tillman School of Business for pushing me to my greatest potential. UMO will always have a special place in my heart.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University was founded by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.