Alumni Spotlight - Star Fischer and Caryl Thorp

Star Fischer and Caryl Thorp of Moss Adams LLP

As an EvCC accounting student, Caryl Thorp found strong mentors in her instructors. Later, while employed as managing partner for the accounting firm of Moss Adams, Caryl provided mentoring to another EvCC student, Star Fischer. Now a senior manager for Moss Adams, Star recalls: “Caryl encouraged me to stretch myself greater than my experience level; she recommended classes and provided an amazing example of a successful professional.” Both women credit EvCC with helping them determine their interests and develop fulfilling careers. “EvCC is an incredible asset for our community,” Caryl says. Star agrees: “Pursue an education and career you can be proud of!”

How did you choose EvCC? Was there a selection process involved in your decision making?

Star Fischer:  During high school, my plan was to attend either Western Washington University or Washington State University. After getting accepted to both, I was struggling to figure out how to fund my education. Additionally, my father was very ill at the time (cancer), and it was important for me to be nearby to have time to help take care of him and spend as much time as I could. Being unsure of exactly what I wanted to “be when I grow up”, I looked at EvCC as a way I could stay close to home and spend less money getting my general Associates degree with the intention of transferring to a University to complete my education once I made a career decision.

Caryl Thorp:  I wanted to stay local primarily because I was uncertain about my major.  I chose EvCC because it allowed me the opportunity to try a variety of classes in my first year that helped me determine my final major.
Do you think your time at EvCC helped you pursue your current career? How?

Star Fischer:  Yes, definitely. I took my first accounting course at EvCC, which led me to pursue accounting as a major. Additionally, I was able to get a job at a law firm as a legal assistant through EvCC with a Board of Trustees member, Sanford (Sam) Kinzer. After I decided on accounting as a major, Sam introduced me to a partner at Moss Adams and fellow EvCC Board of Trustees member, Tom Gaffney. Tom hired me at Moss Adams while still at EvCC, which allowed me to work full time while getting an early start on my career.

Caryl Thorp:  EvCC most definitely helped me choose my current career.  At the beginning of my second year at EvCC, I took an accounting class and it just "clicked." I knew I had found the right course of study for myself, and also knew the EvCC program would facilitate a seamless transfer to a four year school (U of W), so that I could complete my bachelor's degree.
What did you do after you left (or graduated from) EvCC?

Star Fischer:  After graduating EvCC, I transferred to Central Washington University. I attended the branch campus in Lynnwood, where I pursued my Bachelor’s degree in accounting. I remained at Moss Adams for the last 13 years and am currently a Senior Manager in the tax consulting practice.

Caryl Thorp:  I transferred to the University of Washington and finished my bachelor's degree in accounting.

Was there anyone during your time at EvCC who acted as a mentor for you? Tell me about that relationship and why it was valuable.

Star Fischer:  Sam Kinzer (attorney and EvCC Board of Trustees member) was a significant mentor for me. He encouraged me to pursue my goals and not let the “rules” get in the way. He supported me and introduced me to the right people at Moss Adams to get a jump start on my career. He allowed me to work a flexible schedule around my school schedule and provided my first example of a “professional”. I remained close with Sam until his untimely death in 2010.
Caryl Thorp was managing partner of the Everett office of Moss Adams during the time. Caryl was one of the people involved in the decision to hire me while I was still at EvCC. Although I was under-qualified, she encouraged me and gave me the opportunity to stretch myself greater than my experience level. She recommended classes and allowed me to work full-time with a more flexible schedule while I finished my education. She provided an amazing example of a successful, professional woman. It was really great to have such a confident, approachable, female leader for a role model. She had a big impact on my decision to really pursue a career in public accounting or even a “career” at all.
Tom Gaffney (partner at Moss Adams and EvCC Board of Trustees member). Tom was also part of the team that made the decision to hire me. He gave me special tax projects to help me get a jump start on my career and took a chance on me even though my education was not completed. He checked in with me frequently regarding my busy schedule of work and school full time and was always there to help provide feedback and guidance to help make me feel more confident and on track for success. I am forever grateful to him for taking the meeting with a 19 year old that was nowhere near close to completing the education requirements needed to be a “staff accountant” at Moss Adams.

Caryl Thorp:  My accounting instructor, Bob Peterson, was a strong mentor for me during my time at EvCC.  He helped me see the interesting side of accounting, and was always there to help answer  questions.  I give him a great deal of credit for my decision to pursue public accounting as a career.  When I was at the University of Washington finishing my bachelor's degree, Bob was there completing his Masters.  It was interesting to be at U of W with him - both as students, but it also showed me his commitment to his own personal development.

What words of advice would you give to current EvCC students?

Star Fischer:  Pursue your goals and don’t let any obstacles stand in your way. Life should never be about where you have been – only about where you are going. Pursue an education and career you can be proud of!

Caryl Thorp:  EvCC is an excellent school to help you determine what your major areas of interest are.  The instructors take the time to really help you, so don't be afraid to ask for guidance from them.  EvCC is an incredible educational asset for our community. About three years ago, I decided to take a Spanish course just for self improvement.  It had been 30+ years since I had been at EvCC, but once again I found an exceptional instructor who took the time to really help me excel in the class.