Managing the conflicting demands of school, family and work are never easy. However, Janice Gray had the self-determination, and support of her alma mater, to conquer them all. When the Eufaula native began studying full-time at East Central University while raising three children and working part-time in McAlester, she had to rely on a strict routine to help manage her rigid schedule.
“As an older student, you know what your commitments are,” Gray said. “You just step to the plate and do what’s required of you.”
Fortunately, Gray received some help from a former instructor at ECU who volunteered to pick up her kids from daycare every day and take them to school. During those times, she was thankful for the close-knit community at the university, often turning to them as her extended family.
In Norman, Gray and her husband are owners of the CPA firm, Gray, Blodgett & Company, PLLC. Although she never aspired to be an entrepreneur, she liked the idea of being her own boss. The biggest lesson she learned from starting her own business is the importance of seeking out help from others.
“Never be afraid to ask a question or reach out to someone who might have the answer,” Gray explained. “It’s okay not to know everything.”
Recently, Gray was elected chair of the National Association of State Boards of
Accountancy, making her the fifth woman to hold this position in the organization’s 100-year history. She represents 55 boards of accountancy internationally as the organization’s spokesperson. One of her primary goals is to make sure the state boards get the assistance they need to protect the public, especially concerning technological innovations. With Gray’s accession to chair, ECU now has two alums who have chaired NASBA. No other higher education institution in Oklahoma has that status.
Gray was honored with ECU’s Distinguished Alumni Award and addressed graduates as the university’s commencement speaker. Out of all her accomplishments, she considers mentoring others the most rewarding gift. The primary lesson she teaches her mentees is to have open ears.
“Listen, listen, listen and soak it up,” Gray said. “If someone is speaking to you, they may have information that is helpful to you.”