Senior Profile: Kristen Tamagawa
Name | Kristen Tamagawa '21
Major(s)| Accounting Major | Business Administration, Management Concentration | Fine Art Minor
Graduation Year | Spring 2021
Hometown | Mililani, Hawai'i
Post-Graduation Plans | Deloitte, Honolulu Office
Sitting at home in warm, Miliani, Hawai'i, Kristen Tamagawa is wrapping up her fall semester differently than she had ever expected. The growing pandemic led Pacific University to move undergraduate classes entirely online just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, resulting in an early return home for many students.
Like many students, Tamagawa is adjusting and thriving. She is about to earn a double major in Accounting and Business with a management concentration and a minor in Fine Arts. Tamagawa is also a member of the Business Club’s executive team, earned multiple internships, studied abroad, was an NCAA athlete, and already has a job lined up after graduation with Deloitte. To say that Tamagawa is busy would be an understatement.
We caught up with Tamagawa just before the new year and talked with her about her time at Pacific University.
How was your college search, and why did you select Pacific University?
The summer before senior year of high school, my family and I traveled to the Pacific Northwest to visit small liberal arts colleges that interested me. Pacific University made the list because it has a reputation of having a decent population of Hawaiian students enrolled there and my aunty graduated from Pacific. When I visited, I really liked how all the buildings were relatively close to each other and that the placement of the school felt safe, not in the heart of Portland or a big city. I also got to meet the basketball coach who invited me to a recruitment camp the next fall.
I chose Pacific because I really liked the basketball coach, it was a small liberal arts college, and I had the opportunity to push myself with the three-year business scholars program.
How was your transition to Pacific?
The transition wasn’t too bad. I was lucky to find a great group of friends from Hawai'i and the mainland plus Pacific has such supportive staff and faculty. I have to thank Wanda Frazier, Placement Services director, and Professor Laura McNally, for always being available and open to talking to me. There were times when I felt completely overloaded with work, but a pick-me-up email from them or just a brief talk when we bumped into each other in Berglund really made my day. Aunty Jana Chun, Hawai'i Outreach and Programming director, and Uncle Jeff Grundon in Admissions, also made me feel very welcomed. That really brightened my experience and time here at Pacific and felt like a piece of home.
I also enjoyed participating in the Pacific Lu'au, where I danced, helped paint the backdrop, volunteered in the country store, and instructed a performance. I have high hopes that after the pandemic, that Pacific will retain the legacy of having the largest and best lu'au among colleges. I will volunteer and keep in touch with Aunty Jana to give back to the university, since I received such a positive experience during my undergraduate years.
Why Accounting in the College of Business?
I knew I wanted to study business because of my father, who is in corporate banking. I’ve always liked numbers and math, so I figured accounting would be a good fit. Accounting also seemed like the most challenging of the concentrations and the most structured where I could become proficient in it as long as I studied hard and kept on top of my studies. It appealed to me over the other concentrations because of the flexibility to go into any industry I desired.
Describe your internship experiences.
My first internship was with Valley Art, an artists’ market in Forest Grove. I volunteered to do their Facebook postings, helped with their newsletter, and interviewed various featured artists and wrote a column. Later, I started helping with bookkeeping and earned credit for that at Pacific. This bookkeeping position, my passion for art and local artists and my ability to learn quickly all helped me get the Bank of Hawai'i internship.
I also received an internship with Deloitte, which eventually turned into a full-time position. Wanda Frazier in Placement Services provided me the recruiter’s contact information. I met the recruiter for an informational lunch, had an in-person interview and got the audit and assurance internship position for the summer of 2020. Due to the pandemic, the internship was condensed into a 2-week internship experience. I worked with the Honolulu officers and interns in California and Portland. I learned a lot about Deloitte’s culture, values, and the technology used in audit engagements. I also took crash courses on audits, performing engagements, excel and data analytics and participated in various networking events with the Honolulu office. After graduation, I’ll be working in the audit and assurance practice for the Deloitte Honolulu office.
Do you have a future industry that you’re drawn to?
I’m drawn to not-for-profits mainly because I’m passionate about art, galleries, and museums and the ethical standpoint of helping those in need of resources and support. During my college career, I struggled with learning about how unethical our economy works because of high taxation and corporate dominance. So, it was a breath of fresh air to give back to non-profits like Valley Art and Cash Oregon. I’d love to continue to feel like the work I’m doing is for an ethical and good purpose.
You studied abroad. How was that experience?
I researched summer school study abroad that was not funded through Pacific, but was still an eligible study abroad program. It was a four-week long study abroad experience through London South Bank University, where I took a multimedia journalism class and a history class. I’ve never traveled alone, let alone traveled to a foreign country that I’ve never been to before. I wanted to grow by navigating places on my own and meeting new people local to the UK as well as other American students.
How was the fall semester on campus this year?
With the sudden online classes last spring, it was a challenge having to get into my routine and be self-motivated to study and limit distractions. It was hard to be focused and motivated on campus because I was with my housemates most of the time. Also my usual spot in the library, which I’ve been going to for the past three years, is now limited. Given the changes in administration, the pandemic, and the new courses to accommodate for the new accounting major, I think the College of Business did what they could to keep students' spirits high and similar to what it was before online classes. I also really appreciated Wanda’s efforts programming events so there were things to attend weekly and feel that inclusive Pacific spirit even though it’s online.
How did Pacific University help you get where you are today?
I feel like Pacific University humbled me. I went from a large private school in Hawai'i to a small liberal arts university. It was a little discouraging to compete with students from UC schools for the same accounting positions. However, I think that gave me an edge and motivated me to be the best student I can be. I feel like the Pacific experience is defined by the people and the close-knit environment. I was blessed with great friends and even faculty and professors who cared for me and were there for me when things got difficult. There’s such a high degree of compassion for one another, and every professor I’ve had was flexible and understanding. I would not have gotten this experience and support from a larger college, so I’m convinced that I made the right decision.
Did you enjoy your time at Pacific University?
The pandemic’s sudden changes altered my experience, but I’m grateful to have been a part of the Pacific University culture. I feel like it went by so quickly. It seems like just a few months ago, that I was a nervous and shy freshman trying to figure out how to use the Max and wondering how I’d get through my classes without knowing anyone. Each year I’ve gotten so close to the friends I’ve met, the people I’ve roomed with, my peers in my classes, and the professors who taught me year after year. It’s sad to come to terms that I’ll end this chapter of my life in just a few months and have to start all over again to adjust to a new schedule.