Monday, April 16, 2012

Five Years Later, a Connection With a Victim

Like many people her age, Kerry Inger, CPA, was saddened by the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, despite not having a personal connection to the attacks. Now she’s studying where the tragedy occurred, working side-by-side with one person who lives with the effects of the shooting every day.

Inger (right) is the 2011–2012 recipient of the VSCPA Educational Foundation's Austin M. Cloyd, Matthew G. Gwaltney and Maxine S. Turner Doctoral Scholarship, now known as the Virginia Tech Doctoral Scholarship. The award is given in memory of three Virginia Tech students from Virginia accounting families who were killed in the April 16, 2007, shooting.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the shootings, and the VSCPA and the Foundation are honoring the victims this week. Click here to learn about the Foundation's Day of Remembrance efforts and how you can participate.
Inger, who was working in the Atlanta tax practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers when the tragedy occurred, is in her last semester of her accounting Ph.D. program. She meets regularly with her dissertation advisor, Dr. Bryan Cloyd, whose daughter, Austin, was one of 33 students and teachers killed in the tragedy.
"He has been a great mentor and I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with him,” she said.

Cloyd was actually a major reason that Inger chose Virginia Tech for her doctoral work. The director of the University of Florida’s (UF) Fisher School of Accounting recommended Cloyd as an advisor. After a campus visit and interview, Inger knew that Blacksburg was the place for her.
Before going back to school, Inger spent one year as an independent consultant after a four-year stint at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UF.
Inger was drawn to accounting for a reason you don’t often hear — glamor. She came in contact with an accountant in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., who worked with the band Creed.
“Although I have not worked with any rock-and-roll bands, and the career was not quite as glamorous as I thought, it has been a great field,” she said. “I can say that I love accounting.”
While Inger enjoyed her tax work, the idea of teaching accounting never left her mind. She had taken note of several happy professors during her master’s education at UF and decided to enter academia herself. “My professors really seemed to enjoy their jobs,” she said. “I was happiest at my job when I was training and recruiting, so teaching at the college level seemed like a natural fit.”
For all the happiness she gets from teaching, Inger is inspired by her Virginia Tech mentor, who experienced some of the most profound sadness imaginable. Austin Cloyd was 19 years old when she was killed and was active in the community, going on church missions to rural Appalachia to help rehabilitate homes.

The Cloyd family has kept her generous spirit alive, asking for donations in her honor to the Appalachia Service Project, a program that repairs dilapidated houses in poor mountain communities. They have participated in house-repair trips themselves and brought hundreds of Virginia Tech students with them.

Inger has seen firsthand the effects of Austin’s death on the Cloyd family and the positivity of their remembrances of her life. She is honored to be a recipient of the scholarship that bears Austin Cloyd’s name after she lost her life so tragically.
“Although I had no ties to Virginia Tech at the time, I felt such sorrow for the families of the victims and the community as a whole,” Inger said.
Inger now has a family of her own, including a one-year-old son, Marlowe. She enjoys spending time outdoors with Marlowe, her husband, Matthew, and their two dogs. She’ll graduate in May and already has a job lined up as an assistant accounting professor at Auburn University, but Southwest Virginia will always have a special place in her heart.

“My favorite place used to be the beach,” she said, “but having lived in Blacksburg, the mountains are now at the top of my list.”

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