In an effort to build supportive communities focused on professional and personal success, Dr. Ola Smith, chair of the Department of Accountancy, helped students reestablish the WMU National Association of Black Accountants chapter. Smith herself has been involved with NABA since she was an accounting student. A chapter had been active on WMU’s campus in the past.
“For me, NABA is critical to promoting accountancy and finance to a new generation of African American students and to retaining talented students in our discipline,” says Smith. By offering experiential learning opportunities, academic support, and a safe space for all students, the organization is having an important impact in the college.
“NABA creates a family. We are there for each other throughout the entire professional journey,” says senior and NABA treasurer Christopher Bailey.
That journey is critical.
“The opportunity gap is real,” says Bailey. “I am personally committed to advocating for diversity and inclusion in the accounting field. Studies have shown that the percentage of African Americans in the accounting field has steadily declined. Having an active NABA chapter is an effective way to help bridge the gap within our profession.”
Senior Spencer Robertson, president of the renewed NABA chapter, had a vision for the organization as one that would challenge students in the best possible ways. “We are currently in the growth stage,” says Robertson. “Getting the chapter back up and running has come with its fair share of challenges; however, the rewards are worth it.”
The original WMU NABA chapter was started in 1987 by Kevin Carter, B.B.A.’89, and the late Michael Westbrook.
This fall, 19 members attended NABA’s Regional Conference, participating in professional development sessions, mock interviews, a career expo and interviews for internships and full-time opportunities. Many students walked away with full-time job offers.
“The NABA regional conference was one of the best experiences I have had through the Haworth College of Business,” says senior Andrew Miller. “Every person was approachable. There was no sense of competition or elitism. The concept of diversity was truly embraced. I never felt out of place.”
Junior and NABA Secretary Kayce-Ann White notes, “The connections I have made at NABA meetings through different social events increased my self-esteem and confidence level.”
And that increased sense of confidence translates to positive student outcomes.