Sirena Johnson, BS Accounting ’99, describes hers as “a typical Mason story.” Like many alumni, she was the first in her family to go to college and often carried a heavy course load while working full time. She credits her Mason education for opening doors.
But really, she started opening those doors for herself when she was 15.
At a time when many high school students were working part time in fast-food joints, Johnson was already pursuing a career as a lawyer, learning the ropes at a law firm in her hometown of Warrenton, Virginia.
Her aspirations started to change when she was in college, however. Taking a job in the accounting department of a government contractor determined that she would pursue an accounting degree.
Through it all, she has appreciated her time as a Mason student. It is what drives her to volunteer significant time for the university, earning her the 2014 Alumni Service Award.
“I received such a great education that enabled me to be where I am today,” she says. “It’s a good thing to be able to give back.”
Johnson is treasurer of the School of Management Alumni Chapter and an active member of the Women in Business Steering Committee. In the past year, she has sat on three award selection committees for the School of Management that have recognized students and alumni. She also participated as a panelist for the Women in Business Networking Series’ Kickoff Luncheon in 2013. All this is in addition to her day job as a principal at Thompson Greenspon, a certified public accounting firm in Fairfax, where she has worked since 1999.
Previous to this honor, she received the School of Management Alumni Service Award in 2013. Professionally, she has been named a Super CPA by Virginia Business Magazine in the Small Business Consulting category for three years running.
Johnson offers some advice to young women with career aspirations like she had as a student.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself,” she says. “You can be assertive and still be nice at the same time. But you have to be the cheerleader for you.”