Call it a mantra, a philosophy or just the way she’s wired, but Ti’ara Spivey’s secret to her personal success is pretty simple: working hard early and often eventually pays off.
It’s a guiding principle she has long embraced, first as a talented high school student who found her fit at Fisher and then, once here, as a business student who discovered a passion for accounting.
“I guess I’ve always been driven,” said Spivey, a third-year student. “Whatever my goal is, I make sure to put a framework in place to best position myself to achieve that goal; I’m committed to making that happen and want to do everything to be successful.”
That drive ultimately helped pave the way for Spivey to consider Fisher as a college destination. As a senior at Lima Senior High School, she earned valedictorian status. But on top of her academic accomplishments, she was among a handful of students who had no absences, no tardiness and no discipline referrals during the school year. Upon graduation, she was selected among her high school’s top students to receive a car donated by a local dealer.
“The car was just an added bonus,” Spivey said of the black Chevrolet HHR that is currently being used by her family back in Lima. “I was always working and striving to accomplish those goals — they were things I wanted to do for myself.”
Spivey poured the same hard work into her pursuit of scholarships.
“During my senior year, I was worried about how I was going to pay for school. Financially, I knew our family wasn’t going to be able to afford it,” she said. “So, I applied for every scholarship I could. I made it my goal to graduate from college without any debt.”
She eventually earned several scholarships, including one through the Lima chapter of the NAACP as well as one made possible by the Jerry F. Nichols Accounting Scholarship Endowment Fund at Fisher.
“I can honestly say that I would have had to choose different school if it weren’t for my scholarships,” she said.
With the bulk of her tuition covered by scholarships, Spivey remembers first arriving on campus for a Visit Fisher Day event with an interest in finance and accounting. Conversations with Assistant Dean and Chief Diversity Officer Cynthia Turner (MA ’95, PhD ’96), who at the time was a senior lecturer in accounting, piqued Spivey’s interest in accounting.
“Flexibility is what I really wanted,” she said. “I wanted to major in something that would provide me opportunities no matter what career I chose. I remember thinking accounting was just about financial statements, but I learned it can be so much more. It really is the language of business and it drives significant areas of a company.”
Spivey jumped headfirst into a multitude of programs that matched her passions. She joined Project THRIVE, a program specifically designed to foster and empower minority and underrepresented accounting and management information systems students to succeed at Fisher and beyond. She enrolled in the Industry Immersion program, focusing on retail and the middle market, which complemented her fashion retail studies minor.
Spivey was an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Scholar. Now, she is a member of the Honors Cohort, and currently serves as the internal vice president of the college’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.
Although all of the programs have shaped her academic experience, her involvement in Project THRIVE, however, has helped Spivey define what personal and professional success and impact looks like.
“It further opened my eyes to different career paths available in accounting,” she said. “But it was also nice having a community of diverse students to connect with and who are motivated to try and bring more diversity to accounting. It’s difficult seeing companies emphasizing diversity at the entry level but less and less the higher up you go. It can be discouraging. But I hope to be a person that gets to a level in an organization for others to look up to in the future.”
As for that future, Spivey hopes to find a way to blend her passion for accounting and fashion, as well as a budding interest in the law, into a career that fits her. Reflecting her belief that accounting is the foundation on which all business is built, she’d like to earn her CPA while working for an accounting firm following graduation and plans to attend law school in the future.
She also wants to give back in ways that made a difference for her.
“I want to get to a point professionally where I can give back through scholarships,” she said. “They had a profound impact on my ability to choose my college path. I want to contribute to someone else’s college experience.”
The scholarships lifted a weight off my shoulders and were huge in helping me achieve my goal of graduating without debt. I didn’t want to be a financial burden to my family or to myself through loans.