‘I have options now:’ UNO School of Accounting student thankful for education after decade-long journey

Charles Castle
Thanks to the University of Nebraska at Omaha and those who support the School of Accounting, I have options now.”

Charles Castle knew he needed to make a change in his life.

The route for the 43-year-old accounting and business analytics major to the University of Nebraska at Omaha is a journey over a decade in the making. It’s a path that began with feelings of imposter syndrome that often accompany nontraditional students like Castle but will end with a life-changing degree through the education provided by UNO’s School of Accounting.

A Sidney, Iowa, native, Castle never had an interest in college after graduating from high school. Dreams of pursuing a career in the military were taken away following an injury while playing football, so Castle went to work.

Alcoholism followed Castle through his 20s. As he approached his 30s, Castle said he knew he needed to make a change.

“I joined a 12-step program and my life turned around,” he said.

Castle looked to move up at a local manufacturing firm, but knew he needed to receive an associate degree to be considered for the position he was interested in. So he began taking classes part-time at Metropolitan Community College in December 2016, while continuing to work full-time.

While at MCC, Castle’s desire to take his education beyond an associate degree began to grow stronger.

“I just thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, why don’t I do something that I’ve always been intrigued by. I could probably have grinded it out at that job, but I wanted something that would keep challenging me.”

Castle found it through accounting. He always had an interest in the field as a student in high school, but never pursued the field further until he returned to the classroom.

“I took accounting in high school and it always interested me, but I never really applied myself when I was younger,” he said. “I told myself, ‘If I’m going to do this, why not do something that I really like?’”

Castle received his associate degree in general studies from MCC in May 2022. Just days after receiving his degree, Castle was enrolled in summer classes at UNO. Now as a full-time student, Castle immersed himself in everything offered by the College of Business Administration.

Organizations like Beta Alpha Psi, where Castle served as president, and Beta Gamma Sigma helped create an environment where Castle could feel welcome as a student.

“I’m transitioning from blue-collar factory work, I’ve never experienced a college campus before, and frankly, I’m old enough to be the father of some of my classmates,” he said. “So sometimes I did struggle, but organizations like Beta Alpha Psi, along with some of the amazing faculty at UNO, really helped me feel comfortable here.”

The School of Accounting has also given Castle the hands-on experience necessary for success after graduation. This summer, Castle will begin an internship with KPMG — one of the four largest accounting firms in the world.

As a nontraditional student, Castle said he never would have expected to work at such a place this early in his career.

“You read about the Big Four accounting firms in your introduction to accounting classes, and all I could think about was ‘Oh my God, it would be so cool to work at a place like that,’” he said. “I think it also says something about the quality of this school. I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves.”

Castle plans to become a tax accountant after he graduates in May 2025. From there, he’s not sure where his career will take him.

While that may sound daunting for some, Castle is excited to make the most of the options and credibility that come with a bachelor’s degree from UNO’s College of Business Administration.

“One of the reasons I worked at the same place for over a decade is because that was the skill set that I had and it wasn’t really a transferable skill set,” he said. “Thanks to the university and those who support the School of Accounting, I have options now.”


UNO College of Business Administration Accounting Fund for Excellence

Support the next generation of accounting students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha by making a contribution to the UNO College of Business Administration Accounting Fund for Excellence. A gift to this fund provides needed general help to the College of Business Administration, enabling it to lend support to areas, projects and programs of greatest need.