GFOA Scholarship Spotlight: Abigail Leiva

Abigail received $10,000 through the Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship.

Photo of Abigail.

Abigail Leiva currently works in accounts payable at the Village of Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is working towards her Master of Accountancy at Northern Illinois University. Abigail was born and raised in Blue Island, Illinois. She is a first-generation American, as both of her parents immigrated to the United States from Guatemala. She has spent 15 years working in local government.

Q & A with Abigail

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

I am currently working towards my Master of Accountancy. My bachelor’s in business administration provided a broad overview of business topics, but I wanted to become proficient in a specific subject. My time in the finance department at my current job has afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to accounting and I found that I am very much interested in learning it more. I have been able to apply what I am learning in school to work, and it has helped my understanding grow significantly.  

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

Currently I work in local government, specifically the Village of Oak Lawn. I have been working in local government for 15 years now and my hope is to continue to do so for the remainder of my career. In my time in local government, I have had the opportunity to work in and alongside various departments. It has allowed me to understand how they all work together to serve the community and residents. We can significantly improve the lives of residents while also maintaining a duty of transparency and accountability. 

What are your future career goals?

My short-term career goal is to move from an accounts payable position into an accounting role. My long-term career goal is to be in a management position such as a Finance Director. I would also love the opportunity to serve the community once again as a member of the School Board or another volunteer position. 

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

GFOA’s scholarship will help me achieve these goals because it will allow me to focus on my studies. When I made the decision to return to school, I also took on a part time position to offset the cost of tuition. This scholarship will allow me to drastically cut down on those additional hours of work and be able to focus on my education.