Student feature: Meet Anna Mar

Anna Mar
PSU MSF candidate Anna Mar

Program: MSF

Graduation Year: 2020

Program Schedule: Full-Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose The School of Business at Portland State.

My early career was spent working at a bank. I started as a teller and was quickly promoted into a management position. I left after four years to spend time with my newborn son. As the time went by and my children grew, I started toying with the idea of returning to work. I put together a list of things I enjoyed about my work at the bank to help me narrow down my job search. It became apparent that to get the job I wanted, I would have to go to college. In 2015, I started taking online and evening classes at a community college, then transferred to PSU in 2017 to finish up my bachelor’s degree in accounting, which I did  in 2019. The Masters of Science in Finance at PSU’s School of Business, was a natural progression and a way for me to build upon my accounting degree.

What do you intend to do with your graduate business degree?

Following graduation, I will join an audit team at a local CPA firm. I have already accepted an offer and all I have to do is finish school and pass the CPA exams. My graduate degree will help accelerate my career thanks to the finance acumen that I gained, as well as the analytical and teamwork skills that the MSF program instilled.

Please share your scholarship story. What were the barriers for you to get a graduate degree?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the support of numerous scholarship donors throughout my education. When I first decided to go back to school, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it. The uncertainty was a source of significant stress. Rather than letting it deter me from pursuing my goals, I used it as a motivator to work hard and push against my limits. My efforts have paid off, as my academic achievements were recognized through unbelievably generous scholarships. I never imagined I would go to graduate school. I don’t know if I would have been able to go as far as I have without help, and I look forward to the day when I can pay it forward by contributing to a scholarship fund to help others achieve their goals.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable and why?

Portland State University is an amazing place that connects people of many different backgrounds. Attending classes with such a diverse group of people has allowed me to grow in compassion and understanding, and to improve my ability to work in teams and communicate more effectively.

I have also learned not to be afraid of failure, as the fear itself can lead to disappointment. Understanding that risk is an inherent part of success allowed me to take chances and grow through my experiences.

How do you spend your free time?
Anna Mar and family
Anna with her family.

I don’t have a whole lot of free time, as I am balancing a full-time school workload, work and parenting. Whenever possible, I try to enjoy the abundant beauty of the Pacific Northwest with my family. In the summer months, we like to hike, kayak and camp. In the winter, I ski whenever I can. I also enjoy reading mystery novels, solving puzzles, taking pictures of the surrounding world, as well as gardening and baking with my boys.

What advice would you give to prospective graduate business students?

I would urge anyone not to be afraid to take chances. Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. The last five years of school have been some of the most turbulent in my life, yet I am grateful for the challenges along the way.

What inspires you?

It may be a cliché, but the main source of my inspiration is my children. Both my boys are neurodiverse. I’ve been watching them grow and conquer their challenges from their earliest days. I am amazed at how they take their days in strides, and I am forever astonished by their willingness to push past their limits. I have learned a lot from them, and if there is one lesson I hope to teach them, it is that nothing is impossible as long as you are willing to try.



Categories: Student Life