Accounting graduate student balanced class, full-time job

Merrimack's graduate commencement speaker, Keaira “Key” Perry, looked at the example set by her brother and sister-in-law and knew she had to go to college.

Nobody in her family had gone to college before her brother and sister-in-law but they both showed Perry that no goal is beyond reach.

“They have always told me, just do it,” she said.

Perry will be the featured student speaker at Merrimack’s graduate school commencement May 15. More than 300 students will walk across the Merrimack Athletics Complex dais as the college awards master’s degrees in engineering, civil engineering, education, management and accounting.

Even with motivation from her family, school looked as if it would be a financial struggle before Perry’s friend Courtney Parker ’13, called and invited her to visit Merrimack. Perry recalled Parker telling her, “You have to see this campus.”

It was actually a bit of a recruiting trip, from which Perry got both an athletic scholarship to play softball and an academic scholarship.

She grabbed the opportunity and earned a business administration bachelor’s degree from Merrimack last year, then continued this year to earn a master’s of science in accounting while working at BAE in Nashua, N.H.

“Somebody told me I can’t go to work and I can’t go to school full-time so I said, ‘watch me,’” Perry remembers.

Working a 40-hour week managing $1.2 billion in assets, personnel and property for BAE’s finance department, and taking part of its three-year leadership development program, she also held a full-time graduate course schedule.

It’s important to Perry that she’s part of the legacy for being a member of the inaugural graduate school class in accounting.

“People will talk about the first of everything,” she said.

He next assignment at BAE is expected to be overseeing proposals for business growth, she said.