Fort Bragg, CA…… “You want to go to school? You can go to school!” That’s what Katie Layton discovered when she took advantage of the open enrollment for online classes at Mendocino College. Although she has a background in bookkeeping, Katie had never considered the possibility of a career as an accountant until she went online to and was a student within the hour.

Katie loves her online classes. As a re-entry student on the Mendocino Coast, Katie was delighted and surprised to learn that the flexible hours give her the ability to schedule around her other commitments. She says that the weekly discussion boards create a virtual Mendocino College community, and the required writing helps clarify her thoughts. And as she improves her own understanding of the subjects, posting to the board also supports the learning processes of her fellow students.

Katie is very impressed with the quality, content, and scope of the required classes. Working with her guidance counselor, Melanie Dease, who was “very helpful and supportive in choosing which degree programs were the best fit for my goals,” Katie completed her AA degree in Accounting in December 2018. She is now doubling up on classes in business and accounting. This strategy will take multiple years off her transfer into the California State University system. Her goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant.

Katie didn’t expect to learn that, “Accounting is about people. It’s not just adding and subtraction, regulations and ethics. Organizing someone’s business finances, making it intuitive and tailoring it for them, removes their stress, and creates peace — and then you can sleep at night.”  She says “the satisfaction of getting everything in its right place, it’s a good feeling — going from “How can we?” to “This is how.”

She really likes her specialty of “cloud accounting.”  Katie notes in particular that Gary Gray, her accounting instructor, provides relevant and detailed answers. She enjoys  “looking behind the curtain and understanding the nuts and bolts of what accounting programs are actually doing. It’s really fascinating.”

Katie continues to work at Taka’s Japanese Grill in Fort Bragg, where she started in 2012, when her husband enrolled in the Fine Woodworking program of College of the Redwoods (now known as the Krenov School at Mendocino College). She says the folks at Taka’s are like a family for her. Receiving multiple scholarships, including the Fionna & Richard Perkins Scholarship, the Mendocino College Foundation Academic Excellence Scholarship, and the Mendocino Study Club Re-Entry Scholarship, has boosted her confidence, as well as provided the welcome financial support that enables her to study and start her business. Katie is the bookkeeper for the Noyo Center for Marine Science and the Krenov Foundation, and she is actively seeking to build her client base.

Katie and her husband are grateful to be living amid the beauty of the Mendocino Coast. Continuing her education at Mendocino College has helped make her dream of a professional career, doing work that she honors and loves, come true. Katie is happy to declare, “It’s fun to be a student!”

For more information about the Mendocino College Foundation or to donate towards any of their programs, contact Coast Development Director Anna Kvinsland at or call 961-2203.

Mendocino College Student and Scholarship Recipient Katie Layton with former Mendocino College Foundation Scholarship Coordinator, Lana Eberhard.

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