Alumna Spotlight: Naomi Keeling

Naomi Keeling
Naomi Keeling

Nontraditional student benefits from campus resources

Naomi Keeling, 44, is originally from Mankato, Minnesota. After graduating from Central High School in Rapid City, South Dakota, Naomi worked in the food service industry, but she never found an occupation that matched her career aspirations. She knew earning a college degree would give her the opportunity she needed to make a career change. As a wife and mother with four daughters, she also knew life as a college student was not going to be easy.

“I have struggled a long time with what kind of a career is best for me,” Naomi said. “I am introverted by nature in a very extroverted society. I have held many positions I did not enjoy in the least so I took several aptitude tests and decided accounting would perhaps fit me the most. I enjoy analyzing things and I prefer to advise as opposed to being the one always calling the shots. I also thought the business world perhaps needs more accountability—so why not try to make a difference at least in my little corner of the world?”

Naomi enrolled in the Accounting program at Inver Hills Community College and quickly found her footing. She worked in the Business office and graduated from Inver Hills in May 2017 with an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Accounting. She’s taking the summer off from school to spend time with her youngest daughter, Teagan, who just graduated from Park High School, before attending Metropolitan State University in the fall to start earning her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Accounting.

Landing a great job

Naomi’s husband, James, her high school sweetheart and a U.S. Air Force veteran, recommended that she take advantage of campus resources while going to Inver Hills. Naomi followed his advice and connected with Dionna Jones, the director of experiential and work-based learning at the college. Dionna helps students apply what they are learning in the classroom through participation in internships and community-based learning.

“Greg Dennis, president and CEO of Key Community Bank in Inver Grove Heights, had been searching for ten weeks to fill a personal banker position,” Dionna said. “He reached out to me and I had two Inver Hills students, including Naomi Keeling, apply for the position. Naomi got the job and Greg is also taking on an Inver Hills student as an intern in spring semester 2017.”

Naomi also worked with Emily Johnson, director of Career Services, which helps students and alumni achieve their employment and educational goals through career exploration and job preparation. Emily assisted Naomi with her resume.

Three words that describe you as a college student:
STRESSED. SLEEP-DEPRIVED. MOTIVATED.

Naomi’s college coursework gave her the broad knowledge base she needed to assume the responsibilities of a personal banker. “One of my accounting classes had a unit on banking that helped a lot with my interview and I often refer back to it on the job,” she said. “I learned how important it is to read the news everyday to stay current in the business field. Understanding how to do effective research has been invaluable.”

Knowing she majored in accounting, Naomi’s boss, Greg Dennis, showed her one of his loan appraisals so she could see financial statements in action. “My job involves working directly with new and existing customers,” Naomi said. “I enjoy talking with customers and helping them with their accounts. I also really like the analytical side of banking.”

More about Naomi

Naomi and her family lived in Germany for six years while her husband, James, was stationed at Ramstein Air Base. Today, they reside in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. James works as a network administrator for Delta Air Lines. The family has four daughters, Natana, 25, married and applying to the Nursing program at Inver Hills, Petra, 23, a customer service specialist at Ecolab (a job she learned about from Anthony Copa, accounting faculty at Inver), Brittany, 19, a medications manager at a group home, and Teagan, 17, who will be studying business and HR at North Central University in Minneapolis in fall 2017.

In her free time, Naomi focuses on her family and she loves spending time with her daughters. This July, she will be vacationing in New York City to celebrate her new status as a college graduate.

Naomi Keeling Q & A

Naomi Keeling

Naomi Keeling

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Maintaining self-confidence.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Earning my A.S. degree

What person has influenced you the most in life?
My late father-in-law, Robert Major. He was a professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

What would you tell a student thinking about connecting with the Center for Experiential Learning?
Go for it! Career Services can help you find a job and you can also get an internship. You will learn a lot during an internship. You will gain valuable experience for your resume and meet people you can network with throughout your career, even if your internship is not in the exact career field you will end up in. Internships are invaluable. Search them out, pursue them. If you don’t know where to start, talk with your teachers.

More about the Center for Experiential Learning…

Get real-world career experience in college

You don’t have to wait until you graduate to put your knowledge to work. Through experiential learning, you can collaborate with local high schools, conduct research with community partners and solve operations issues for organizations.

Visit the Center for Experiential Learning to learn more.

What did you like best about Inver Hills?
The faculty and staff; they really care about the students.

What is your greatest strength as a college student?
I am not intellectually gifted. Understanding can take me a little more effort than most, but it’s mostly an enjoyable effort; my greatest strength would probably be staying engaged during class times.

What are your long-range career plans?
To further understand the world of finance, business, and accounting.

Naomi Keeling | 21 Answers

Naomi Keeling

Naomi Keeling

  1. New ZealandFavorite season: Autumn, the air is crisp and usually the colors are stunning for a short period.
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Waterfalls, especially the falls at Minneopa State Park
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Walking
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: I’ll stick with the bald eagle, strong, majestic, beautiful.
  5. Place you would most like to visit: New Zealand
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas; my children laugh because I like to watch sappy Christmas movies all year round, but ad nauseam from Thanksgiving to the New Year.
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: American bison; there is a reintroduced herd outside of Mankato and I like to watch them when I can.
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Emma Thompson
  9. American bisonFavorite music genre: Classical, Gustav Mahler in particular
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Life is a beautiful mess.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Discovering something you hadn’t known or seen before.
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Spiders; a close second: snakes
  13. Favorite TV show genre: Comedies
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Tough to choose one. For the cry factor, Sophie’s Choice. For pure enjoyment, Guardians of the Galaxy. For overall awe factor and production value, The Lord of the Rings.
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: To make a difference.
  16. Most precious material possession: I am not sure I have one, perhaps my stand mixer, but you wouldn’t catch me trying to drag it out of a burning house—so I don’t know.
  17. Marie CurieFirst thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: A mansion with a professional kitchen and 1,000 acres
  18. Dream occupation: Comptroller
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Marie Curie
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Speaking well extemporaneously.
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: I think humankind’s greatest challenge is to think outside of the self. Even in countries where there is more of a collective mentality, when it comes right down to it, I personally believe that the self is the main focus and few human beings have the time and dedication to think beyond that.
To learn more about Accounting at Inver Hills, contact:

Anthony Copa
Accounting Faculty
651-450-3865

To learn more about Career Services, contact:

Emily Johnson
Career Services Director
651-450-3241

To learn more about the Center for Experiential Learning at Inver Hills, contact:

Dionna Jones
Experiential and Work-Based Learning Director
651-450-3295

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