For most of her adult life, Julie Parece worked as a stay-at-home wife and mother, raising two children in Northern Kentucky. In December 2017, at age 41, she graduated from the University of Louisville’s College of Business with an almost perfect GPA, earning a BSBA in Accounting, Computer Information Systems (CIS), with an Entrepreneurship Minor. But that wasn’t all, she also earned the designation of Outstanding Graduate for both accounting and CIS, as well as the honor of banner bearer and commencement speaker at her graduation ceremony.
In 2006, she moved from Northern Kentucky to Bardstown. When her daughter went off to a boarding school in Massachusetts several years later, Parece realized she finally had enough free time to return to school.
In 2011, she began taking online classes through Gateway Community College but had to take a year off after both her father and husband were diagnosed with cancer in 2013. The following fall, Parece transferred to the University of Louisville.
Once she arrived at UofL, the variety of course selections piqued her interest. Originally an accounting major, she added CIS as a second major after having Dr. Stephen Kendra as a professor in CIS 101. As time passed, Parece added additional concentrations in information security, web development, and business process management.
“I don’t love (being chosen as the speaker),” she admitted. “As an accounting and CIS major I like to sit behind a computer screen, but ever since I went back to school it’s been all about getting out of my comfort zone.”
It’s safe to say that her experience at UofL was not what she expected. At the start, Parece said her goal at UofL was simply to attain her degree as quickly and easily as possible.
“I was really just trying to get in and out and get a degree so I could get a job that would make a little bit of money,” she recalled.
One class and interest led to another though, and five years of study later, Parece graduated with a total of 202 credit hours – a number well north of the 122-hour minimum. That tally didn’t come easily, though – there was a fair amount of sacrifice along the way.
“There have been many, many days where I was on campus for 13 hours a day – in classes, doing group work,” she said. “And there has definitely been more than one occasion where I’ve been in the library at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night.”
With her two children now both freshmen in college at Centre and Western Kentucky University, Parece says she reminds them often of the time and effort she has put in, along with the results she has received in return.
“Don’t think I have not told them, ‘I have a 4.0 this semester, so what are you doing?’” she said with a smile.
Although Parece herself earned her honors and success, she was quick to point out that the effort wasn’t entirely her own doing. Just before graduation, she cited the willingness and expertise of her classmates and professors as instrumental in leading her to all that she has become.
“This isn’t all my own effort – there’s no way,” she said. “I had awesome groups; I had awesome faculty that didn’t mind when I came and asked them 50 million questions. The faculty is always available here. It doesn’t matter which department you’re in; anybody that I’ve ever gone to for any kind of help has always been more than willing to help. That’s the absolute honest truth.”
“It’s hard to go back to school as a non-traditional student, but everybody here has been so nice,” she continued. “The faculty, the staff, the advisors, the janitorial staff – everyone you speak to is really nice, really helpful. It’s all been so very good.”
This spring, Parece will officially begin her professional career with Mountjoy Chilton Medley (MCM) as an information technology assurance intern. Parece targeted MCM as a company to work for because of her affinity for data analytics.
“I was looking for a larger firm because I didn’t want to just be an accountant,” she said. “I also like CIS, so I wanted someplace that was also integrating data analytics, and MCM is starting a data analytics program of its own. That’s ultimately what I want to do.”
Because of this interest, Parece’s tenure at UofL may not be done just yet. She is currently planning to re-enroll in the University’s Masters of Science in Business Analytics program, a new degree that will be offered for the first time this year.*
For Parece, it would be yet another hill to climb and challenge to conquer – and another opportunity to learn at the University that sparked her interest and launched her career.
Julie was also featured in the January President’s Report.
*Pending final program approval. Expected launch date: August 2018.