Accounting major Adam Kuzdzal ’16, salutatorian of his class, knew what he’d be doing after graduation even before he received his diploma.

“I’m going to be starting in October at Burkhart Pizzanelli, an accounting firm in West Springfield,” the Chicopee native said.

Adam was selected for an internship by the company after applying during a career fair the company attended on campus. He worked for them during the spring semester. “They hired me from there,” he said.

During his junior year, Adam worked at Taxland, a tax preparation service on Boston Road in Springfield, to fulfill his major’s requirement of 120 internship hours.

Accounting is something Adam knew he wanted to do before he came to Elms, having taking a general accounting class his senior year at Chicopee High School.

“It was the first class that I took where I was able to help everyone in the class,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling. I know what I’m doing.”

Although he wasn’t an athlete in high school, Adam was a four-year member of the Elms cross country team and served as its captain for three years. And, with his 3.97 GPA, he was a member of the NECC All-Academic team all four years as well.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be living here, so it was going to be tough to meet people on campus,” he said of his reasons for joining the team. “So I figured doing athletics would be a good way to try to get to know a few people, at least.”

Being on the team helped him focus, and improve his time management and leadership skills, he said.

“I got to motivate people, and learning those kind of skills is going to help for years to come,” he added.

Adam chose to come to Elms because he wanted to be closer to home. He appreciated the small size of the school and the ability to develop relationships with the professors. “If you have any questions, you can talk to them after class, and email them,” he said. “They are there for you.”

His advice to potential Elms students? “If anyone really wants that attention from the professors – if they are really serious about going to school and not goofing off – it’s definitely the place to go,” Adam said. “They’re going to get the help they need.”

Adam was a good student in high school, placing in the Top 30 of what he says was a very competitive class. But he didn’t expect that he would place second in his graduating class at Elms.

“It’s nice to see the hard work I’ve done all these years pay off to something other than just your degree,” he said. “It’s exciting to get to talk in front of everyone,” he added of his speech at the Baccalaureate Mass and Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony, the evening prior to Commencement 2016.

In the near future, Adam plans to pursue his master’s degree online and then start preparing to take the certified public accountant exam.