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Catawba’s Liberal Arts Student Can Count on Education as He Enters Big Four Accounting

June 1, 2021

Category: Alumni, English, History, Religion & Philosophy

rife21.jpgJonathan Rife, Catawba College Class of 2019, is living every day and works in the Raleigh area of North Carolina as an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, headquartered in London, which is second largest professional services network in the world. It is one of the Big Four accounting firms. 

When he looks back on his undergraduate days at Catawba, he is appreciative of his liberal arts education and classes that taught him to think in ways that challenge his worldview.

He majored in Literature and minored in Religion, Philosophy, and History at Catawba. “As a result, I took many classes that could all build on each other and teach me how to think in a variety of ways,” he says. “Catawba helped me prepare for my career path because it made me a better person. I’ve always believed that if you graduate college and don’t turn out a better person, then you’ve wasted time and money. And more importantly, you’ve set yourself up for a disappointing life. Catawba played a part in shaping who I am today.”

After Catawba, Jonathan attended UNC-Chapel Hill and obtained a Master of Accounting Degree at the Kenan Flagler School of Business. After graduation in 2020, he started his career as an audit associate with PwC. 

Catawba was a key phase in his life, he says. “It just felt like the right fit,” he says. Before choosing Catawba, Jonathan, who grew up in Apex, NC, but was born in Harrisburg, PA, sat in on a class, Major British Writers 1800 to 1950, taught by Dr. David Schroeder. “I loved the class,” he recalls. “I knew that I would learn a lot from this professor and classes like his. It just felt like the right fit.” 

He was awarded a Presidential Endowed Scholarship which fully covered tuition making college financially affordable. The Presidential Endowed Scholarship Program at the College is for endowed scholarships which have been generously funded at a level of $150,000 or higher by Catawba donors who are committed to legacy of academic opportunity for highly qualified students." 

Jonathan says that the Catawba faculty and classes inspired him throughout his undergraduate years and even today. “I would always take advantage of the open office hours to get to know my faculty and increase my learning and understanding of class material and the world,” he says. For high school students considering Catawba, he advises sitting in on classes, getting connected to alumni, and asking tough questions. “If you are going to spend four years at a place, you want to make sure that it is a good fit for you,” he says. 

He recalls the faculty who inspired him with gratitude. “I have many to thank,” he says, recalling specifically Daryl Bruner, Director of the Student Academic Success Center; Amanda Bosch, Director of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship; Mark Wurster, Interlibrary Loan specialist; Dr. David Schroeder, Professor of English; Dr. Barry Sang, Professor of Religion; Dr. Norris Feeney, Professor of Politics; Sal Musumeci, previous Chair and Professor of History; and the entire English Department.” 

Along with his career, Jonathan says that he enjoys running, reading, and making sure life is full of laughs. He hopes this all finds you well and wishes everyone the best.

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