GFOA Scholarship Spotlight: Aaron Keathley-Silva

Aaron received $10,000 through the Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship.

Image of Aaron.

Aaron Keathley-Silva is beginning the Master of Accountancy program at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. After graduating high school in McAllen, Texas, Aaron attended St. Edward's University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. After spending time in law enforcement, he decided to change careers in 2023 with a focus on finance.

Q & A with Aaron

Where and what are you currently studying, and why did you choose this?

I am attending the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, pursuing a master’s degree in accounting with a focus on auditing. I was inspired to study accounting by my brother, who specializes in auditing and advising governmental entities and teaches governmental and not-for-profit accounting at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. I will use my accounting education to perform public service by ensuring governments are serving in the best interests of their citizens. Auditing will allow me to gain an understanding of the fiscal policy of governmental entities. Auditors of governmental entities provide assurance over the financial statements of governments, which serves the interests of the respective citizens. 

What government are you working in or hope to work at in the future?

My long-term goal is to obtain a key finance position in municipal government in the Rio Grande Valley area to serve the community I live in. The Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S. My law enforcement career was spent in municipal governments, allowing me to see what it’s like to be an employee of a municipality. Public service is a way for me to give back to the community I grew up and live in. I intend to learn and improve upon the strategies and tactics used by the local municipalities of the Rio Grande Valley to enhance the maintenance and growth of the municipality. 

What are your future career goals?

After earning my Master of Accountancy and passing the CPA exam, I plan to begin my career in accounting as an auditor, specializing in the governmental sector. A career as a governmental auditor interests me due to the knowledge I will gain in the financial practices, policies, and functions of a municipal government. A competent auditor can prevent the misuse of funds, errors, and fraud. I aim to earn the CGFM and CPFO certifications within the first five years of my career. I plan to use my experience as an auditor, certifications, and education to obtain a finance director position. The finance director position of a municipal government would be the ultimate goal for my career. Finance directors have the most prominent impact on the fiscal growth of a municipality. As a finance director, I will take it upon myself to ensure the citizens of my community are satisfied with the use of the resources they have provided the municipality. The adequate utilization of resources in improving and serving the community will be my focus as a finance director.

How will GFOA’s scholarship help you achieve those goals?

I am greatly honored to receive the GFOA’s Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship. The scholarship will provide me with the funds necessary to complete the Master of Accountancy program and to earn the required credits for a CPA license. Receiving a scholarship from the GFOA is an accomplishment that will stand out on my resume when applying for employment as an auditor in the governmental sector. I will also utilize the GFOA membership which was received as part of the scholarship for educational opportunities, resources, and to network with other members.