Cornett Uses NWTI to Kick-Start Career

Tiffany Cornett is an accountant for Certified Express Inc. in Neosho, Missouri.

Tiffany Cornett originally planned on going from point A to B, and, with a bit of luck, perhaps on to C or D in her life. After getting the kick-start she needed at Northwest Technical Institute, Cornett is looking for more letters in the alphabet to conquer.

Cornett was diagnosed as being dyslexic as a senior in high school at tiny Watts, Oklahoma, population of just 320 in the 2010 Census.

“No one usually left Watts,” Cornett said. “We had only 19 in my graduating class.”

According to a 2019 report by the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability, only 6.1 percent of people in the Watts School District had a Bachelor’s Degree.

“I went to the unemployment office after high school and I told them that I would be a janitor if they would just give me a job,” she said. “The lady there told me I could join the military and either be a police officer or accountant. I was not ready for the military, so I went to NWTI around 2011 and got into its program and just fell in love with it.”

Take the chance or lose the risk.

While at NWTI, Cornett was invited by Business Department Chair Lisa Talbert to join a group of students she was taking to the Holiday Inn for a day-long workshop at the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

Representatives from Walmart, Tyson Foods and others attended the event. One speaker was from the University of Arkansas. While most NWTI students had sat with Talbert at a table, Cornett chose to sit elsewhere.

“Lo and behold, the UA speaker sat at my table,” Cornett recalled.

Talbert said Cornett was “networking” while at the table, talking to the area professionals. She made a particularly strong impression on Heather Nelson, then the President of the UA Alumni Board of Directors.

“She struck up a conversation.” Talbert said. “Tiffany got out of her comfort zone. She reached out and met people and was dressed for success. They told her that when it was time to do her internship to give them a call. She followed up with it.”

Nelson would tell Cornett that while there had never been an accountant at the UA Alumni House, she wanted her to come talk about being an intern there.

“What I’m really proud of is Tiffany followed up and did the internship with the UA,” Talbert said.

Cornett had graduated with a Business – Accounting Assistant diploma from NWTI in 2012. Four unpaid 40-hour work weeks later, Cornett was hired as a part-timer. That became a full-time position and the UA got Cornett on a work study program so she could finish her Bachelor’s Degree, which she did in 2016.

“NWTI was absolutely the only reason I got on at the University of Arkansas,” Cornett said.

Take the chance or lose the risk.

“The teachers at NWTI care.” Cornett said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a small class or large one. I had Lisa Talbert, Diane Mount and Lisa Holland. The only thing I was struggling with was the spelling and Mrs. Mount had me read letters that she changed around. She had me read one line about eight times. I asked why she was having me read it so many times. She said, ‘Because you were reading it backwards.’”

Cornett was taken to the Adult Education facility with NWTI and tested. She learned how to cope with her dyslexia.

But accounting?

“Accounting! Yeah, I know,” she laughed.

Cornett would work with the UA for eight years, work for a medical facility as its accountant for a year, then Covid-19 hit and became a pandemic. She decided to move on and has been with the trucking firm of Certified Express Inc. in Neosho, Missouri, as an accountant for the last year.

“The town I’m from, hardly anyone gets out of there and goes to college,” Cornett said. “NWTI made me dream bigger and that I could accomplish goals. It was not intimidating. They had tutoring after class and even between classes. You were not a number there.

“I absolutely fell in love with the school. It helped me so much.”

Today, Cornett is raising kids ages 11 and 12 and is just a couple of classes shy of completing her Masters of Accountancy at the University of Arkansas. She plans to finish that by May.

Take the chance or lose the risk.