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June 7, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Spreadsheets sing and formulas strum when Eastern Oregon University graduate Katie Kitchell wakes them up.
Kitchell, named the 2021 President’s Scholar at EOU, said she’s discovered a sense of self-confidence through music.
On the way to her business and accounting degree, Kitchell took a number of music courses. She plays piano, guitar, organ, drums and bass, and she also sings and writes her own songs.
“People in music classes when they find out I’m an accounting major are like, ‘Why!?’” she said. “Music is just math, and people don’t realize it’s all counting and numbers.”
Bringing her mathematical sensibility to the stage also gave Kitchell opportunities to practice making herself heard in the business world.
“I was really shy when I started college, so I got a job at the bookstore my freshman year to learn how to talk to people,” she said. “I decided to pick up a communications minor because I saw such an improvement. I was finally able to be myself around people and they liked me more than when I was hiding my true personality.”
Born in La Grande, Kitchell has held an internship and seasonal position at a local accounting firm for several years, and began her post-college career in tax accountancy this month. She’s also enrolled in a Master of Business Administration program in hopes of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
The Oregon Society of CPAs selected Kitchell as a top accounting student earlier this year, and she’s excelled outside of the classroom as well. Raised in a family of English teachers, Kitchell said she’s always been an avid reader. She’s embraced an educator role through leadership in 4H, guiding kids and teens as they raise and show pigs. Kitchell is also a leader in her church as a musician and Bible quizzing coach.
“I do a lot better when I’m busy,” she said. “Keeping motivated and moving helps me get my schoolwork done, too.”
Like each President’s Scholar, Kitchell will address her peers during EOU’s Commencement ceremony on June 12. Her pre-recorded speech will play via livestream before graduates begin their march across the stage.
“My speech is about finding a support system or acknowledging the support system you already have at EOU,” she said. “You don’t graduate from the community, but you have an obligation to be that support system for the next generation.”
Find more information about Commencement proceedings at eou.edu/commencement.
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