Berkeley Today Stories
“Berkeley College gave me the confidence that I could do anything,” said alumna Cassie Kowalchuk.
Berkeley College Gives Graduate Confidence to Balance Successful Careers in Accounting and Animal Rescue
Cassie Kowalchuk graduated from Berkeley College in 2008 with a B.S. in Accounting and earned an M.S. in Accounting from Kean University in 2012. In addition to preparing her for a growing accounting career in the pharmaceutical field, Ms. Kowalchuk’s time at Berkeley College also encouraged her to follow her passion for helping animals. “Berkeley College gave me the confidence that I could do anything,” she said.
Inspired by her time volunteering at the Clifton Animal Shelter while taking courses at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, Ms. Kowalchuk co-founded the One Step Closer Animal Rescue (O.S.C.A.R.) in 2010, registering the organization for 501(c)3 nonprofit status at the age of 22. The Sparta, NJ, resident and her volunteers have rescued and adopted out nearly 4,000 animals since its inception. They opened O.S.C.A.R.’s own shelter in Andover, NJ, this past year. “I don’t want this to be it for us. I want us to continue to grow and do even more for rescued animals in the years to come,” Ms. Kowalchuk said.
Starting her own rescue organization had its challenges, especially as she balanced volunteer work with commitments to school and a full-time job. Ms. Kowalchuk continued her animal rescue efforts as she attended Kean University and worked at Mills & DeFilippis CPAs in a full-time position, which initially started as an internship Berkeley College Career Services helped arrange for her. She continues to balance her time between O.S.C.A.R. and her current role as a senior accountant at Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
“Time, especially not having enough of it, is always an issue,” Ms. Kowalchuk said. “It’s hard juggling everything, being tired, feeling stressed, and never feeling like you have enough time to devote to one thing with so much occurring. You just have to push yourself and say to yourself ‘you can do it!’ If you want something badly enough, you just make it happen.”