Thirty of the nation’s brightest undergraduate business students spent the weekend of Jan. 6-8 on the Wake Forest University campus as part of the 5th Annual Accounting Diversity Consortium. Juniors and seniors from universities throughout the U.S. were selected to attend from over 110 applicants. This year’s group has an average GPA of 3.75.
The event, which is produced by the Schools of Business and funded by Ernst & Young, is designed to help students from underrepresented groups find out more about the Wake Forest Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) program.
“Welcome to the home of the best accounting program in the world,” said Steve Reinemund, Dean of Business, emphasizing that Wake Forest students have the highest CPA pass rate in the nation and 100% of students accept job offers prior to graduation.
He said that Wake Forest is committed to diversity in the classroom and preparing students to lead in a multicultural environment. Reinemund commended Ernst & Young for supporting the Accounting Diversity Consortium.
Jack Wilkerson, Senior Associate Dean of Accountancy Programs, cites the faculty’s dedication to students as one of the program’s distinctions. “Teaching is their number one job,” he said.
Wilkerson also pointed out the loyalty of Wake Forest Accountancy alumni. “At 750 nationwide, it’s a small enough network that our alums are very engaged with faculty and students, and if you are interested in working in any major city in the country, there is a good chance there will be Wake Forest accounting alums there.”
Three alumnae now working at Ernst & Young shared their school and work experiences during a panel discussion at the Accounting Diversity Consortium.
Joy Clark (MSA ’09), Megan Jones (MSA ’09) and Karrah (Clay) Ruffin (MSA ’08) provided firsthand perspectives about the rigor of coursework, preparation for the CPA exam, internship opportunities, work-life balance and careers in various accounting service lines.
“Make the CPA exam a number one priority before you leave graduate school,” Clark advised students. “Once you get into the working world, time is not on your side for studying.”
Regarding earning promotions in the workplace, Jones said, “Doing a good job is what you are supposed to do. You have to do something over and above to set yourself apart.”
Ruffin said she left school prepared for a critical part of her job—teamwork. “Being with the high caliber of Wake Forest students helped me develop more confidence and gain valuable experience working in diverse teams.”
“Wake Forest has a genuine and true commitment to diversity and inclusiveness,” said the panel moderator, Ryan Kist, Ernst & Young Americas Inclusiveness Recruiting Consultant. “There is always such an outstanding group of students here and their level of engagement is outstanding.”
Belinda Tohe traveled all the way from Arizona State University to experience the Accounting Diversity Consortium at Wake Forest. “I have a passion for accounting and this is an opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and explore the possibilities ahead of me,” she said.
This was Tohe’s first trip to North Carolina. She grew up on a Navajo Indian reservation and didn’t learn to speak English until she went off to boarding school at age five. “It’s a real achievement for me in life to be able to come off of the reservation and to have come this far.”
Students from 25 different universities across the country came to Wake Forest for the Accounting Diversity Consortium.
Twin sisters Afsheen and Ambreen Hameed, Accounting and Management Information Systems majors at DePaul University, said they enjoyed the change of scenery from Chicago. “This is such a beautiful campus,” said Afsheen. “This is what I picture when I imagine life on a graduate school campus,” added Ambreen.
Kendell Harris, an accounting major at East Carolina University said, “I heard of the prestige of Wake Forest, but I wanted to see firsthand what is instilled in the students and what can I take to my graduate experience regardless of where I go.” (Harris will go to Charlotte this summer to work as an Ernst & Young intern.)
Ernst & Young has partnered with the Wake Forest Schools of Business on the Consortium since its inception and provides the funding for all students to attend the event.
In his closing remarks, Ken Bouyer, Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting for Ernst & Young advised the attendees to be flexible, ready, adaptable and willing to learn.
"Don't be happy just to be here. It is not enough. Grow, develop and strive for more. No one owes you anything; you have to persevere," he said.