By Andrew Koch
Like many students at the UB, Denyse Webber is a nontraditional student. She’s a member of the UB chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (the honor society for accounting, finance and information systems majors), and is scheduled to graduate with her Master of Science Degree in Accounting and Business Advisory Services in December 2015. Webber is also trying to start a new group on campus geared specifically toward minority students.
Webber is trying to start a UB chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). She explained that the association was started to help African Americans overcome the racial barriers that existed in the past and break into the accounting profession. Webber said the lack of African Americans in the accounting field is still an issue today. Now, NABA awards scholarships to African-American accounting majors, and provides them with networking opportunities. Webber said she wants to start at UB to help black accounting students capitalize on opportunities that are available to them in the field.
“I felt like a lot of students, especially African-American students, don’t really know how to take ad- vantage of the opportunities,” Web- ber said. “So I thought with NABA that, coming from someone who was just like them, would help them understand and guide them through the process of getting your degree in ac- counting, sitting for your CPA exam.”
However, Webber said she’s running into some challenges in trying to start a chapter on campus, including graduation at the end of each semester.
“It’s hard to get people to commit if they graduate every semester,” Webber said. She said she’s found that some people don’t want to take ad- vantage of networking opportunities, even though that could help them in the future.
“Some people just have an attitude that ‘I just want to get my degree, I really don’t want to participate in any networking or any organizations,’” Webber said. In addition, she said that because some people work full- time, they don’t have the time to devote to such organizations. She said she’s not really sure what to do to get students to make the commitment so a chapter can be started at UB.
While she’s run into difficulty trying to start a NABA chapter at UB, Webber said she’ll continue to promote NABA she has been able to get students to sign up for the asso- ciation’s Baltimore regional chapter. School chapters that are members of the regional chapter include Towson, Morgan State and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. The University of Maryland-College Park also has a sizable NABA chapter.
In addition to awarding scholarships to students and providing them with networking opportunities, Webber explained that NABA sets up organizations at different universities throughout the country and, as part of the association’s community outreach, goes into high schools and talk about the accounting profession in an effort to get high school students interested in a career in ac- counting. She added that NABA has conferences in June every year where attendees can go for interviews, and current accountants can go to get Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. This year’s conference was held in Bethesda. Webber says in the spring, NABA holds regional career development days throughout the country.
During those career development days, Webber explains that members come together, critique student resumes, and go over how to dress and prepare for an interview. Accounting firms and other businesses come to the events. Students can then upload their resumes onto an e-resume book that’s accessible to employers, who can then review resumes and schedule interviews.