Profile: UM accounting grad student from Virginia never stops


Shannon Griel talks through her daily routines of life as a graduate student at the University of Mississippi as she goes over her homework. Photo by Sean Gillen.


Sean Gillen
Oxford Stories

The sound of a 6:30 a.m. alarm wakes Shannon Griel. She gets out of bed and takes her tiny rescue dog, Josie, out to feed her. The smell of coffee fills the kitchen in her single-bed apartment.

The clock hits 7 a.m., and Shannon quickly grabs workout clothes. Then she’s off to Orangetheory Fitness. She returns home, showers, and gets ready for the day.

Griel, 23, from Burke, Virginia, is a University of Mississippi graduate student studying accounting. “I’m up everyday at 6:30 a.m.,” she said, “and I’m used to it by now. But I have to be up early because there is so much that I need to do everyday.”

She spends her “free time” studying, reviewing, and doing homework. “It depends what day it is,” she said, “but Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, my mornings are all the same, and I’m studying now before I leave for work. I try and get as much done because my entire evening is one class, so there isn’t a lot of time afterwards.”

When 1 p.m. arrives, Griel packs a lunch. “Today, I’m just doing a salad,” she said. Griel has a graduate assistantship from 2-4 p.m. at the UM library working for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

“It’s pretty cool when you think about it, because not many other colleges have one,” she said. 

During her two hours working, Griel proofreads AICPA documents and answers phone calls. Last week, she received a phone call from Iran from someone requesting documents.

“It’s crazy that that’s how big of a thing it really is,” she said, “that we can receive phone calls from anywhere around the world.”

She said her job is simple. The most difficult thing is sorting through documents. Griel later returns home and feeds Josie, then makes herself dinner. There is a brief moment between then and class when she can study and do homework. She often multitasks during dinner while studying.

“Tonight, I have my 6-10 CPA evening class,” she said, “and that is Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have an 8 a.m. for accounting theory, and then professional writing for accounting from 6-8 in the evening.”


Josie, Shannon Griel’s rescue dog, is a part of her everyday life and helps Shannon prioritize. Photo by Sean Gillen.

Griel is studying because she has a test on Feb. 20. “For this class, we would typically meet at 8 in the morning,” she said, “but on test days, they push it back to give you more time to take the test. So if you want, you can get there as early 6 to take the test.”


Shannon Griel looks over her notes and continues to work on her homework. Photo by Sean Gillen.

Back from her evening class, she takes care of Josie and studies before going to bed. “I like to be in bed by 11,” she said, “but sometimes, I may be looking at notes or something before I fall asleep.”

Griel said grad school is difficult. “It can be difficult to prioritize,” she said. “For me, I need to find a good balance of maintaining a good GPA (above a 3.0 for Griel), and passing the CPA (which is the main purpose).”

Friend and classmate David Gerhardstein said Griel is a diligent worker.

“There is a lot that I can relate too,” he said. “We are constantly busy. She is working, taking classes, and doing stuff for her CPA, and I’m taking classes and trying to find potential job opportunities.

“Take today for an example, I was up at 4:30 studying for a test, and I have been studying for it all week. It is demanding, and in order to be successful and come out on top, you must put the dedication in. So I can easily relate to Shannon. Grad school really will make or break you. If you have it within, you’ll walkway successful. If you don’t, you don’t.”

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