The National Association of Black Accountants student chapter, formed in fall 2007, is now in its second semester at Virginia Tech.

The National Association of Black Accountants has 25 members and expects to increase its membership each semester because of the numerous opportunities available to members.

“We really wanted to come out strong in our first year,” said Veronica Gentry, of Annapolis, Md., a senior majoring in accounting and information systems in the Pamplin College of Business and chapter president. “We wanted to let everyone know that we weren’t just planning to hang out, that we were here to make a difference.” Gentry said that one of the important benefits of being a member of the organization is the opportunity to meet the corporate sponsors of the chapter, which includes KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young, commonly known as “the big four.”

Gentry explained that National Association of Black Accountants students are able to get acquainted with the corporate sponsors even though all of the companies do not come to campus. This past fall, 17 members of the association attended the regional conference in King of Prussia, Penn., and interviewed with companies from Wall Street.

Basically every member had the opportunity to attend this conference, with PricewaterhouseCoopers paying travel expenses, the (parent) Richmond chapter paying registration, and KPMG covering hotel accommodations, Gentry said. Students who are not members of the association, she added, must make their own arrangements and pay their own expenses to be able to interview with these companies.

Students have the opportunity to improve their communication skills by talking with these companies. For example, Freddie Mac visited campus to conduct a session on sample interview questions. “Four years of being a member in [the National Association of Black Accountants] will be such a benefit because you are literally talking with people from companies who will actually be taking your resume in the future,” said Gentry.

The association has been busy with activities since last fall. Gentry said that KPMG sponsored a recruiting picnic at the beginning of the fall 2007 semester. The chapter also sponsored internship panels that involved question and answer sessions with seniors who interned with the big four and smaller accounting firms. The sessions, she said, are helpful to those who have not yet worked as an intern to know what to expect. The National Association of Black Accountants is involved with resume workshops with career services, information sessions with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Freddie Mac, as well as social events with Mark Husband and the finance club.

Gentry said the Virginia Tech student chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants is currently competing to be named the top chapter in the eastern region. Each quarter, chapters submit reports to the national office where scores are tallied to see which chapters are most active. According to Gentry, “One other chapter is winning so far, but we are close behind.”

Gentry attributes the success of the chapter to their faculty advisor, Lynette Wood, assistant professor of accounting and information systems. “Without her guidance we would not have been nearly so successful,” said Gentry.

“Starting this new organization was difficult because there is such a small percentage of African American students, and if you get into specifics like accounting or engineering, it really takes down your numbers,” Gentry said. So when recruiting for membership, the organization decided to branch out to other majors, such as finance, management, and marketing, which helps these students because the companies are looking to fill various positions within the company.

Gentry said that anyone can join the organization, a chapter that is diverse in members’ backgrounds. Meetings are held twice a month and yearly dues are $20. “It is exciting how well the organization has been received,” she said.

For more information about membership in the student chapter of National Association of Black Accountants, e-mail 2008-09 Chapter President Ananeya Abebe.

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