Accounting for Needs
Dominick Vaccaro hadn’t heard much about NC State until he moved to the Charlotte area from New Jersey during middle school. He visited the Raleigh campus for the first time as part of his school’s Science Olympiad team.
By the time he was old enough to apply to college, however, he knew NC State was the place for him.
“I definitely got a good feeling when I initially walked around the campus,” Vaccaro recalled. “It was just a very genuine feeling place to me – all of the people that I met there were very down-to-earth.”
Shortly after he received his acceptance letter, he received another letter as well: an offer of support through NC State’s Pack Promise program. The initiative was created to help low-income students meet their financial needs through a package that includes grants, a work-study job and limited loans.
Those kinds of resources are critical for students like him, Vaccaro said.
“In terms of financial assistance, that definitely helped me and helped make that decision to come to NC State a little bit easier,” he said.
Once he enrolled, the university lived up to everything he’d hoped for. He began pursuing mechanical engineering, but realized he was better suited toward a business focus and transferred to Poole College of Management to study accounting. Vaccaro said he received great support from professors as he made the transition, ensuring he wasn’t too far behind everyone else who had started out in that major.
In addition to pursuing his degree, he played for NC State’s jazz band – a hobby that carried over from high school.
“That’s something that really stood out – I was able to pursue my professional goals, but then I was also able to do something that I loved doing on the side,” he said.
Today, Vaccaro, who received both his undergraduate degree and his Master of Accounting from NC State, works in Charlotte for a public accounting firm as an auditor. He has spent the past year in the process of pursuing his certified public accountant (CPA) license as well, which is no small feat – requiring hours of studying and the completion of four rigorous sections of testing.
Both the financial support he received and the services provided through NC State’s TRIO program prepared Vaccaro well for what came next as he entered the professional world and prepared for the CPA exam.
While financial aid helps students overcome financial barriers to higher education, TRIO programs help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education. Its support services include mentoring, tutoring and more.
The program also provided leadership experience for Vaccaro, who was named the first student president of the TRIO program for his senior year.
His role involved regular communication with other students in the program to better understand their studies and what resources would be helpful to them. He also helped plan social and networking events, and served as a representative of the TRIO program on campus, advocating and getting the word out about its services.
“With everything I do, I always try to give back something,” he said. “I felt like I was able to at least give back a little bit by helping to grow that program.”
It’s something he recognizes in the donors who support NC State.
“So many people from so many walks of life choose to attend NC State since it offers such a rich, diverse and unique college experience both in the classroom, out on campus and in the greater Raleigh community,” he said. “By donating to these students, you are facilitating the growth of our society here in North Carolina, the United States and the world, as NC State’s students can be seen succeeding in a multitude of professional disciplines.”
Vaccaro’s hope is that the university affords other students the same experience that he had.
“I love NC State. It’s definitely one of my favorite places out of anywhere in the world,” Vaccaro said. “There’s just so much going for it and so many aspects. I feel fortunate that I was part of it.”
This story is part of an ongoing series about extraordinary opportunity at NC State. Learn more about how we’re working to empower more students from every family background and economic situation to earn an NC State degree.