Sue Swanger remembers them well: a group of bright and eager young women who all happened to be in her graduate auditing class together in 2003, all working toward their master’s degrees in accounting. That they now all serve together on Western Carolina University’s College of Business accounting advisory board is no surprise to their former professor.
“These amazing young women became a part of the WCU family as students, but continue to give back to the WCU community and the accounting profession by lending their expertise and talents as advisory board members,” said Swanger, professor of accounting in the College of Business and director of the master of accountancy program. “Their diverse life experiences enrich our programs and inspire the next generation of accounting professionals.”
Jennifer Dills, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1998 and completed her master’s degree in accounting in 2004, serves as the chair of the 27-member board. Dills said she appreciates the opportunity to “have a voice in the education experience” of upcoming accounting students.
“As individuals who have already gone through the college experience and moved into the workforce, the advisory board can help students be prepared for their careers after college,” said Dills, who is vice president of finance at Drake Enterprises Ltd. in Franklin. “The advisory board likes to share memories of our time at WCU with each other, but also with students to give them a perspective that we were once in their shoes.”
Melinda Clark, who is director of accounting for TLF Inc. in Asheville, said she was motivated by students to give back to the university. “WCU students are excited about learning and appreciative of the efforts of faculty and those already in the workplace,” said Clark, who completed her master’s degree in accounting in 2004. “We always receive thank you notes from WCU students whenever we give them a plant tour, donate money to scholarships or offer them an opportunity to accomplish a goal.”
For Pat Jackson, controller for Ingles Markets Inc. in Black Mountain, she said serving on the board has allowed her to receive as much as she gives. “There have been numerous opportunities to participate with the board in special alumni functions,” said Jackson, who completed her master’s degree in accounting in 2003. “These events do bring you closer to WCU, especially for the commuter student.”
Jackson, like other members of the board, was a working professional when she enrolled in WCU’s master’s degree program in accounting, a decision, she says, that has made a world of difference in her professional life. “It helped to reinforce my confidence in my accounting career choice and allowed me to explore areas in accounting that were not part of my daily routine,” Jackson said. “I made some great connections, and the professors were just superb.”
Jackson said she also was grateful to Swanger for nominating her to be on the board. “She is so committed to the profession and to WCU, which inspired me to do more,” Jackson said.
For Clark, serving on the board has opened her eyes to the myriad gifts and skills her colleagues have to offer. “The most rewarding part of being on the accounting advisory board is the variety of ways we can contribute to the cause,” Clark said. “Some members offer internships, some give plant tours to students, some help arrange networking activities and events, and others donate to scholarship funds. We all work together using our individual talents to support the faculty and students of WCU.”
Location: Biltmore Park
Full-Time or Part-Time
Prerequisite: GMAT Required
App Deadline: Jan. 1, May 1, Aug. 1
Small class size, affordability