Mary Thomas ’08 set her sights on becoming an accountant in her senior year of high school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in accounting from Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business, then worked in Winchester for a few years before landing her dream job as an accountant with NASDAQ OMX Group in Rockville, Md., in 2012. She says she knew back in 2004, when she first came to campus, that the Byrd School would prepare her to achieve her professional goal.
“During my senior year of high school, I took my very first accounting class,” said Thomas. “It was during that class that I discovered I wanted to be an accountant. At the time, I didn’t know what I had to do to meet this goal, but I knew that when I went to college I would study accounting and find a way to land a job in this field.”
Thomas originally learned about Shenandoah through another passion — dance. She danced throughout elementary school and high school, where one of her dance instructors, alumna Catherine Bacha ’02, encouraged her to join the dance team at Shenandoah.
Bacha shared her own experiences at Shenandoah, and when Thomas heard about the great opportunities she could experience at the Byrd School, she realized she had found the place where she wanted to spend the next four years of her life.
“It made me want to visit campus, and then when I got accepted, there was no question as to where I was going to go,” said Thomas.
Thomas loves her fast-paced job and can’t imagine herself anywhere else. She works on the general ledger team that supports accounting and finance, accounts payable and accounts receivable departments during monthly, quarterly and yearly closings.
“I don’t plan on going anywhere,” Thomas remarked. “I love it here!”
Thomas’ journey to NASDAQ, however, wasn’t an easy one. The faculty at the Byrd School challenged her each and every day, yet she attributes her success to one-on-one time with her professors, especially her academic adviser, the late L. Mark Tyree, M.B.A., Ed.D.
“Shenandoah’s professors were always willing to help me and make sure I understood the material,” Thomas said.
After graduating from Shenandoah in 2008, she completed a master’s degree in 2011. As she pursued her dream, she drew strength and inspiration from her mother, a breast cancer survivor, who suffered a heart attack while Thomas was in high school. Focusing on her mother’s strength helped Thomas persevere through tough times.
“Mom gave me a lot of strength to know that if I’m going through something, I’m able to push through it, because I know that she did,” said Thomas.
Thomas’ mother supports her daughter and brags to all her friends about her work at NASDAQ.
“If it wasn’t for Shenandoah, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” said Thomas. “It’s where I earned my degree. It’s also where I learned many of the things I’m doing in my job now.”
Thomas plans to continue in her career with NASDAQ, but she is flexible about remaining at the Rockville facility or moving to its headquarters in New York City.
“In accounting, you support every department. I want to learn as much as I can and take whatever opportunities become available. I definitely plan on staying at NASDAQ for as long as they’ll have me.”