After visiting nearly a dozen colleges, Bridget McSherry was set on studying business at Hofstra University. But the North Andover native wanted to check out one more business school – the one just 15 miles down the Merrimack River at UMass Lowell.

“When I came here, everything changed,” McSherry recalls. “I suddenly felt like all the other colleges were very rehearsed. The professors knew what they were going to say ahead of time, and the students all sounded very similar. It was very different at UMass Lowell. You could tell the connections between the professors and students were genuine, and that’s really what interested me.”

McSherry was smart to follow her instincts. Five years later, she has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master of science in accounting (MSA) from the Manning School of Business. She also has a full-time job waiting for her at the accounting firm Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico once she completes her Certified Public Accountant exams this fall.

“The exams are a lot of work, but I wanted to do it right away,” says McSherry, who isn’t one to dawdle: She began pursuing her master’s degree two days after receiving her bachelor’s and completed it in just one year through the Bachelor's to Master's program.

At the Manning School’s graduate student Hooding Ceremony in May, McSherry received the Outstanding MSA Student Award, an “unexpected” honor that makes her appreciate UMass Lowell even more.

“If you’re willing to put in the work, they will recognize you. That’s one of the things I like about this school,” says McSherry, who also values the myriad opportunities she found at UML. The Honors College student was a member of the accounting and finance societies, Beta Gamma Sigma and the UMass Lowell Real Estate Network Association. She was also president of the Dean’s Student Leadership Council.

“I wanted to make the most of my opportunities and learn everything I could,” says McSherry, who made the Dean’s List every semester and won the Massachusetts Society of CPAs’ Women in Accounting Scholarship.

Through the Professional Co-op Education program, McSherry also landed a co-op position her junior year in the auditing department at Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, where she has continued working 15-20 hours each week as an intern for the past two years.

While she learned in the classroom about debits and credits and how to calculate depreciation, McSherry says working at Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico in Tewksbury taught her the intangibles of client relationships.

“Within my first week at MFA, I was out talking with a client. You can’t get that at many other places,” she says. “It was nice to know that they trusted me so quickly.”

Among the many faculty members who played a role in her success, McSherry says she was especially close with Assoc. Prof. and MSA Coordinator Stefanie Tate and lecturers Deb Finch and Ralph Jordan.

“They’re a huge asset to the school,” says McSherry, who isn’t ruling out the possibility of returning to the Manning School someday for her third UML degree, a Ph.D. in accounting.