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The Power of Perseverance: Marian Keim (BS ’16, MAC ’18) Blazes Her Own Trail

Marian Keim delivers the 2016 Poole College commencement address.

By Lea Hart

Marian Keim came to the U.S. at the age of 19 not knowing how to speak English. She got a job, started taking ESL classes, and, as she says, “In no time, I was taking my first introductory business class during the summer and that is where my success started to build.”

A first-generation college student, Keim earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Poole College in 2016 and 2018, respectively, while also volunteering and leading student organizations. Today, she is a senior revenue accountant at Toshiba.

Read on to learn more about Keim’s story, the power of perseverance and the value of community.

What made an impact on you during your time in the Poole College of Management?

Finding a community who supported me through my years at NC State. When I first joined Poole, there were not many people who looked like me. I thought I was going to be alone and was going to have to navigate the difficulties of being a first-generation college student all by myself, but it turned out, that was far from what happened. I found an incredible support system within Poole that helped me get to where I am today.

Keim (back row, second from left) with a group of students participating in Juntos Academy.
Keim (back row, second from left) with a group of students participating in Juntos Academy.

How did you make an impact while at Poole?

While I was at Poole, I volunteered at the Juntos Academy that takes place on the NC State campus every year. Juntos is a national organization that provides support and resources to Hispanic high school students to pursue higher education. During the academy, I was a team captain and mentored roughly 10 to 15 students. This is an experience I will never forget. Helping kids get to where I am, or even farther, is one of the things that brings me the most joy. To this date, I remain in contact with most of these students who are now in college. I have helped them with their recommendation letters, resumes and college applications.

group of students on steps of NC State's Nelson Hall
Keim (second row, far right) participated in a number of student organizations, including the Poole College student networking group.

What are some of the other activities you took part in while at NC State?

I led the Hispanic/International Student Network group. I was president of the Internal Audit Student Club. I was a member of ALPFA (the Association of Latino Professionals for America). I was a member of the Accounting Club. I did an ERM practicum while in grad school. In addition, I was elected by the Poole Board of Advisors to their award ceremony.

Tell us a little bit about your story and what drives you.

I believe my success was driven by the perseverance and the desire to never give up that I learned from my family. I came to the U.S. at 19, without knowing the language. Like many Hispanics, I got a job at a warehouse working a night shift. However, I knew I wanted to be part of the Hispanic population that positively impacted the LatinX community by earning a college degree, so I started taking ESL classes. In no time, I was taking my first introductory business class during the summer and that is where my success started to build.

student speaking with microphone at workshop
Participating in events like the AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop was a big part of Keim’s Poole College experience.

What was that journey like for you?

It was a very hard journey where imposter syndrome took over more times than I thought possible, but it did not matter how hard it got, I knew I was never going to give up. Our culture is one of resilience and perseverance, and that kept me going through my college journey.

Although not many people looked like me in school, I found an incredible support system within Poole who always reminded me that I deserved to be a Poole student and that I belong there. Perseverance, resilience and the support of the people around me allowed me to reach the finish line in record time and opened so many doors — doors that have led me to where I am today.

Today, it fills me with joy and pride to look back and see that I am one of the few LatinX students who has given the Poole commencement speech. Because of all of this, I have been able to continue to be a leader in my professional career where I have had the opportunity to lead projects and initiatives and generate tangible results. All while proudly representing my culture.

This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.