News from the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy

New Fellowships, NABA Chapter Aim To Reduce Barriers

The founding officers for MSU’s NABA chapter are (back row) Chrissy Major, Vice President, accounting major; Lemuel Walters, Marketing & Public Relations Chair, accounting major; (middle Row) Maxwell Perkins, Secretary, business information systems major; Alex Gray, Treasurer, finance major; Amiyah Brown, Event Planning and Professional Development chair, accounting major; (front Row) Miriam Patrick, Student Chapter Reporting Chair, accounting major; and Zy’Keyah Horn, President, accounting major.

New doors are being opened at Mississippi State to make the accounting profession more accessible to African Americans.

A recent gift by the Richard C. Adkerson Family Foundation has made possible the addition of two initiatives.  The first is establishment of Adkerson Endowed Graduate Fellowships for African Americans who enroll in an MSU graduate accounting program, either on campus or online.

“The fellowships will help African American students, an underrepresented group in the accounting profession, study full time and graduate from a top-notch master’s accounting program and further their career ambitions,” says alumnus Richard Adkerson, the School’s namesake and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan.

To further enhance inclusion and diversity in the program and the profession, the Foundation endowed an MSU chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).  The organization serves those in accounting, finance and related fields, focusing on the motto “Lifting As We Climb.”  It offers networking, development and social support for professionals, who can often be the only African Americans in their workplaces.  It also strives to pull the next person up through structured mentoring and by working to get people – particularly college students – interested in accounting and financial fields.

For MSU’s chapter, the goal is education, preparation and professional development.

“Some students ask why join when they’re already in other organizations,” notes advisor Dr. Lauren Milbach.  “Fundamentally, it’s about recognizing there are systemic barriers to getting underrepresented students into accounting, to their successfully graduating and to their staying in the field.”

Twice a month, a professional is invited to talk to chapter members about a specific issue – usually a topic requested by the students, like tailoring a resume for a certain job opportunity, interview skills, diversity in the workplace or how to dress in the workplace.  Speakers discuss their own jobs and experiences as well.  Milbach also anticipates hosting a larger annual speaker event featuring a C-suite executive from a Fortune 500 company.

Another aim for the chapter is to help younger college students succeed in their first accounting courses through study halls and exam review sessions, increasing the likelihood they will continue in the major.

The Adkerson funds will assist chapter members in attending NABA’s annual regional conference in Atlanta, and two officers will be invited to the national professional conference.

By providing more opportunity to learn from others’ experiences, to pursue education and to bring others along, MSU’s NABA chapter and the Adkerson Endowed Graduate Fellowships will help add more bright young minds to the accounting profession.

Watch an interview with Dr. Lauren Milbach, NABA faculty advisor.