At first glance, Amy Morales seems like she had a clear path from day one. She’s a standout student in Portland State’s Master of Taxation (MTax) program and president of Alpha Beta Psi—an honor society dedicated to accounting, finance and tax students.
Not long ago, however, Morales was attending Portland Community College (PCC) and faced a tough decision—should she continue on to study journalism, an uncertain field, or explore a major that has higher potential for financial stability and job opportunity?
Her brother, Leo, played a pivotal role in guiding her next step. Then a PSU accounting student and now a graduate of PSU’s MTax program, he had one suggestion: get a business degree from PSU.
“We are both first-generation college students,” Morales said. “So we help each other out.”
With the advice of her brother, Morales enrolled in an accounting class at PCC.
“That first accounting class left me feeling so confused and overwhelmed,” Morales explained. “I went to office hours after class and talked through everything with my professor. Then it all clicked. This was what I wanted to do.”
She transferred to PSU and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2018. She then followed in her brother’s footsteps by enrolling in PSU’s MTax program.
Networking became a cornerstone of Morales’s PSU experience. She filled her schedule with career events, organized mock interviews and resume critique sessions, and sought out every opportunity she could to immerse herself in her education. These tactics paid dividends.
“Kelly Lutz took the time to guide me through the recruiting process and helped me discover my career goals,” Morales said of her PSU accounting instructor. “She was my first teacher to promote Beta Alpha Psi in her class, and it’s helped me immensely during my education.”
Her passion ultimately led Morales to become president of Beta Alpha Psi at PSU. The chapter focuses on bridging the gap between academia and the professional world. In her leadership role, Morales helps plan dozens of events each term to pay forward the knowledge she received, and to help students through the challenges of pursuing a finance, tax or accounting degree.
“PSU professors really care about the successes of their students and their careers. They’re always sharing job opportunities and giving us valuable advice from their personal experience.”
Morales is often reminded to find a job that fits her dreams and values. And that’s exactly what she did. She’s set to graduate from the MT program this summer, and has already received a full-time job offer from the Portland office of the international Big-4 accounting firm Ernst & Young where she has been interning since 2017.
“It’s a perfect fit, and that feels good,” she said.
Morales’s parents were born and raised in Mexico. “They were very passionate about school, but due to financial limitations, they were only able to complete sixth grade,” Morales shared of her parents. “They both worked hard in the fields of their hometown to help their families survive.”
After her parents immigrated to the U.S. and found jobs in Oregon, things started falling into place for their family. Not wanting their children to struggle as they did, Morales’s parents stressed the importance of education, financial stability and job security.
“I will forever be grateful for my parents encouraging me and my siblings to attend school and make something of our lives. And they are grateful for our teachers and scholarship donors who’ve supported us along the way,” Morales said.
The youngest Morales sibling, Manuel, is now studying marketing at PSU.