College of Business scholarship program provides opportunities to minority students
Before 2018, no student from Governors State University (GSU) had received the Mary Washington Wylie Scholarship, which seeks to assist minority college students with entering the accounting profession by providing access to training, resources, and mentors.
Since then, GSU’s program has seen 17 scholars, a fact Dr. David Green, Chair of the Division of Accounting, Finance, Management Information Systems and Economics, is proud of.
“I’m very proud of that because a couple years before 2018, the faculty made it a goal to make sure we had students apply to the program. Step number one was awareness and to see the success has been great,” Green said, noting the achievement came as a result of a relentless effort to promote the program, which is named after Mary Washington Wylie, who in 1943 became the first African American female CPA in the U.S. Much of that promotion came from the work of Alice Keane, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Chevonne Alston, who is also an Assistant Professor of Accounting. Both promoted the program as faculty advisors for the Accounting, Finance and Economics Club.
Karen Williams, Manager of Enrollment and External Relations, also expressed her pride in the success of the program.
“Who would have thought that a meeting on a February 22,2016 in the GSU cafeteria would have led to such a long and prosperous relationship between GSU and the Mary T. Washington Wylie scholarship,” she said. “ On that cold day, I and Dr. T.J. Wang, Professor of Accounting, sat down with Angie Spencer, granddaughter of Mary T. Washington to discuss her grandmother's legacy and partner with the College of Business.”
For Green, the program’s impact is illustrated by the opportunities scholars are able to obtain as a result of their participation. The program steers the scholars toward various employers, who interview them for a variety of paid internships. Some GSU scholars have managed to secure internships and even jobs at some of the big four accounting firms: Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and KPMG.
“It’s been great because it's provided a lot of great internships some students probably would never have had access to,” Green said, noting such firms often turn toward larger schools for potential candidates rather than smaller ones like GSU.
In addition to fostering these kinds of opportunities, the program allows scholars to gauge their interest in becoming a Certified Public Accountant. They get a chance to learn about what it would take to become a CPA through mentors, provided resources and through contact with various companies. The idea is to get students thinking about that pathway as early as possible in order to prepare them. In that process, they learn more about the CPA exam while meeting current CPA’s and connecting with other students who want to follow in their footsteps.
“It’s good to have those levels of networking, people that have already gone through that journey and people in it with you,” Green said.
Green and his colleagues hope to build on the success of the program by seeing a large number of students apply and become scholars every year. As they look to increase the number of accounting students that take the CPA exam, the scholarship program is a part of that equation.