40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Kara Stevens

Director of Accounting Programs and Associate Professor, Bay Path University; Age 34

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens’ path to an accounting career was not as straight or well-marked as those taken by most who choose this profession.

She didn’t have a family member with the letters ‘C,’ ‘P,’ and ‘A’ after their name to inspire her, and she was, to use her word, an average math student. And while attending Springfield Technical Community College, she struggled to identify a major.

But while there, she developed not only an affinity for business, and especially accounting, but a liking for it as well.

“It seemed pretty interesting, it turned out I was good at it, and soon people were asking me to help tutor them,” she explained. “And it really progressed from there.”

She went on to major in accounting at UMass Amherst and then join Wolf & Co. in Springfield, where the next chapter in her career would unfold, somewhat like the first one. While teaching as an adjunct at Westfield State University, she discovered she was not only adept at teaching, she had a real passion for it as well.

So she made a career course change and joined Bay Path University as a full-time instructor and would go on to blueprint the school’s master’s-degree program in accounting. She described it as a course of study that is, by its nature, heavily focused on numbers, but it also helps students with the subjective nature of accounting, or what Stevens called the “big picture.”

She said there are many rewards in this profession, but perhaps the biggest is helping students gain not only the skills, but the confidence to break into the field or advance within it.

“To get that phone call from a student — that they’ve gotten that second interview, or got the job, or got the promotion … that is something really neat to be a part of,” she explained.

And while she developed expertise in accounting and then teaching, maybe the skill she’s most proud of — one she’s admittedly still mastering — is that of achieving work/life balance, something she owes to a strong support system anchored by both her current employer and her husband, Matthew.

“I feel that I’ve been able to find a wonderful work/life balance,” said Stevens, mother of 4-year-old Mary-Kate, “being able to continue growing professionally and academically, as well as being the type of mom and wife that I want to be.”

With the couple expecting their second child in a few months, that work is about to get that much more challenging.

— George O’Brien

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

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