All for Abi: Online accountancy student receives special scholarship

Anne Holland, inspired by best friend’s cancer fight, returns to UND for scholarship recognition while pursuing online master’s

Upon receiving the first-ever Abi Nadeau Winsor Scholarship, Anne Holland reflected on Abi’s — her best friend’s — determination to make a difference in the lives of others through education. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

This is a story about accounting – and chemistry: the chemistry of tears.

For when Anne Holland learned that she’d won the first-ever Abi Nadeau Winsor accounting scholarship at UND, her tears harbored elements of not only pride and joy, but also sadness.

That’s because Anne and Abi – the scholarship’s namesake, and a beloved 2014 UND grad who passed away at age 26 from brain cancer – were close friends. Moreover, Anne remembers Abi as one of the most inspiring people she’s ever met.

All that and more crossed Anne’s mind last week, when she heard her name being called, then crossed the stage at the Beta Alpha Psi Spring Scholarship Banquet to collect the scholarship named after her friend.

Anne resolves this tangle of emotions with determination – a real commitment on her part to live up to Abi’s example of kindness, generosity and goodwill.

“She wanted to be that financial lifeline,” Anne said, speaking of Abi’s desire to help others as scholarships had helped her.

“I’m so thankful that she was able to see this goal checked off her list. And I’m so thankful to not only be a beneficiary of this scholarship, but to know that her legacy and memory will live on throughout these students.”

Now an online student in UND’s graduate accounting program, Anne is proud to be the first-ever recipient of the scholarship, which those closest to Abi helped plan and organize before her death.

Best friends throughout college, Holland and Winsor graduated together in 2014. Image courtesy of Anne Holland.

Changed perspective

After graduating alongside Winsor in 2014, Holland figured she was finished with college. At the time, she had an opportunity close to her hometown of Hudson, Wis., and took it. She’s been working in finance ever since.

The experience of losing her best friend and witnessing the effort to create the now-endowed scholarship changed the way she looked at things, Holland said.

Winsor loved UND and accounting and had goals despite her prognosis, Holland remarked. “So it gave me a drive to know I can do more than what I’m currently doing, and to actually look at my future goals,” she said.

With UND recently making its Master of Accountancy program available online, Holland decided to enroll in the spring of 2019.

Improvements found online

She enjoyed her undergraduate experience within the accounting department, and she knew the quality of instruction she would be receiving from UND.

“When I saw that UND was offering the online program, and I was actively thinking about getting a master’s, I thought it made sense,” she said.

Holland now has a family, including a toddler, in addition to her full-time workload. So, she’s thankful for the improvements the University has made to its online course delivery. Back in her undergrad years, some aspects of online education could be a hassle. She talked about test proctoring as an example.

“It’s easier now,” she exclaimed. “When I did online classes before, I would have to try to get a proctor at the library, or if I was away from campus I would have to find someone. Trying to schedule that was time-consuming.”

In her current degree program, Holland said, her tests are proctored virtually.

She also discovered that her courses foster group interaction with other students. The level of class interaction was something that she didn’t expect online, but has made the experience that much more reminiscent of being part of the classroom.

“The first week of each class is like, ‘Oh, hi, nice to see you guys.’ And we’re all sharing and learning more about each other as we go along,” Holland said.

Earning a master’s degree comes with its share of challenges, of course. But amid the scheduling conflicts and parental duties, Holland has maintained a steady pace through her coursework. She plans to have her master’s in-hand by May 2021.

“If you’re a working student, do the online program,” she remarked. “I couldn’t imagine earning my master’s any other way.”

Holland and Abi’s sister, Andrea Winsor, made the drive from the Twin Cities to be present for Tuesday’s banquet. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

A trip to remember

On Tuesday, Holland had driven from the Twin Cities area with Winsor’s sister, Andrea Nadeau, to attend the scholarship banquet together.

As tears welled in her eyes, Holland said she was doing it all for Abi.

“Being on campus has brought back memories,” she said. “Her sister and I have been able to reminisce about things that happened while we were here, and it’s special. It feels good to be back.”

Everyone who spoke about Winsor during the ceremony mentioned her love for UND, and how connected she was to everything happening around the department, even as an alumni working with firm CliftonLarsonAllen’s Minneapolis office. Josh Nelson, a friend of Abi’s and an accountant with CLA, presented the Abi Nadeau Winsor Scholarships on Tuesday to Holland and current Accounting Club President Taylor Mortimer.

“It only makes sense that there will be a scholarship for her here,” Holland said. “She did so much when she was a student here, and I’m very touched and honored to be here.”

Josh Nelson embraced Holland as she walked onto the stage to accept the scholarship award. Both were among Abi’s closest friends while at UND. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Cultural signifier

Katherine Campbell

Kate Campbell, professor and chair of UND Accountancy, remarked that the online program lets Holland manage the demands of her time while continuing her education to advance her career.

“We’re so happy to have Anne in the program,” Campbell said. “She is not only a strong student, but she carries on the culture of all our UND Accountancy programs, including prioritizing enduring, personal relationships with fellow students, faculty, alumni and recruiters.”

Campbell remarked that scholarships awarded to online master’s students this semester included alumni of the undergraduate program, such as Anne, as well as students who came from other universities.

“The Abi Nadeau Winsor Scholarship is so special to us,” Campbell said. “It shows the way that our alumni look to each other and our program as a touchstone for hope, enduring connection and belief in investing in others for a better tomorrow.”