The road to a college degree offers many obstacles through rigorous coursework, projects and exams that require the right amount of determination, patience and grit in order to reach the finish line on graduation day.
All these traits can be found in Madison native Kelsi Long who will cross the commencement stage at Coleman Coliseum for a second time on Saturday as she completes UA’s demanding four-year JD/MBA program ahead of schedule.
When Long was in high school and weighing her college options, she was immediately attracted to the Capstone after attending the Culverhouse College of Business Accounting Career Awareness Program and getting a firsthand look at the college’s accounting program.
“I wanted to go to one of the best universities for business,” said Long. “Attending the Accounting Awareness Program allowed me to meet the professors and tour the campus. The professors that I met at that time were pivotal throughout my college career and to this day.”
As Long was working on her bachelor’s degree in accounting, her love of business and desire to attend law school led her to one of UA’s most challenging programs.
“Accounting is connected to the law in so many ways,” said Long. “I knew that if I wanted to reach my full potential, attending law school would help me better understand the rules and regulations of the business world.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting, Long entered UA’s JD/MBA program, a collaborative program between Culverhouse and the School of Law that provides challenging but valuable course offerings and experiential opportunities. She was the only member of her law cohort to take on the program and its only female student in the past three years.
“The program can be rigorous, but it is definitely doable,” said Long. “The hardest part of getting both degrees at the same time is the extra time to get the degrees. Law school and the MBA program work different parts of the brain and reward different work styles, so it can be difficult to switch between both, but it’s certainly manageable.”
While taking on the numerous challenges of the JD/MBA Program, Long still managed to hold several important roles on campus. She is currently a graduate assistant for the assistant dean of the Culverhouse Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and member of the Faculty-Staff Interview Committee, Blackburn Institute and Bench and Bar, the School of Law’s honor society. Long also serves as a School of Law ambassador.
Long credits self-discipline and her time management skills for keeping her on track while taking on her coursework and appointments. She recommends all students utilize a well-managed calendar to stay organized and prepared for whatever the day might bring.
“My calendar is my lifeline,” said Long. “I have my classes, meetings, volunteer and social events in my calendar. Humans are creatures of habit, so I try to stick to a routine while still maintaining flexibility for unforeseen circumstances.”
Long also attributes her success to the countless faculty and staff that have helped her along the way.
“My time at UA has taught me that people can make an impact no matter their job title,” said Long. “I can’t say enough about the amazing employees who have inspired me and kept me motivated as an undergraduate and graduate student.”
True to form, Long will graduate from the JD/MBA Program a semester early and has already secured a position as a corporate and energy attorney with Balch & Bingham LLP in Birmingham following graduation. As she prepares to begin her career, she credits the diversity of UA for preparing her to consider the various viewpoints of those around her and explore ways she can make the world a better place.
“My educational experience at UA has taught me to think critically and problem solve in all situations,” said Long. “My extracurricular activities such as Blackburn have allowed me to learn how to think outside the box and question traditions and norms. Also, I’ve learned to have educated conversations about various topics and how to handle discourse peacefully.
“College has opened my mind and allowed me to value other people’s thoughts and perspectives. Most of all, college has prepared me to lead; welcome diversity of geography, ideology, and values; and advocate for the voiceless.”
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.