OXFORD, Miss. – Students in the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy have launched Mississippi’s first chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. The chapter, which launched in 2013 and received its official charter earlier this year, has flourished.
Kyerra Moody, a senior accountancy major from Olive Branch, teamed with Nicole Barnes, a junior accountancy major from Marion, Ark., to co-found the Ole Miss chapter. The group met for the first time Sept. 9, 2013, and the national board approved its charter in February. Moody serves as president, and Barnes is vice president.
“As president of the chapter, words cannot express how excited and proud I am of the progress that Ole Miss NABA has made over the course of this year,” Moody said. “Starting from nothing, and against all odds, Nicole, the rest of the executive board and I have put in so much work and effort to become the first NABA chapter to be chartered in Mississippi.”
“I really hope this will increase the diversity in the accountancy school,” Barnes said. “Currently, we don’t have a lot of minority students or faculty. I hope this will help recruit students to the program and help them stay in the program.”
Barnes said she wanted to have a membership in a professional organization that would help her build professional skills and allow her to network more effectively. Although the school provides networking opportunities for students, she said she wanted a smaller, closer-knit group so they could improve together and grow their professional skills.
Barnes said one of her favorite things about the accountancy school is that the faculty really get to know their students.
“They’ve encouraged me to get involved in opportunities that got me in front of professionals early on,” she said. “I want all students to have that experience and those opportunities.”
Nationally, NABA started in December 1969, with nine African-Americans meeting in New York City to discuss the challenges and limited opportunities they faced in the profession. At that time, only 136 of the 100,000 Certified Public Accountants in the United States were black. NABA was born out of that meeting and has chapters across the country.
Apart from networking, the association provides other benefits. For instance, NABA helps members learn to dress for the professional world. Last year, the Ole Miss chapter organized a fashion show where working professionals offered advice on the dos and don’ts of dressing for a career.
“The biggest impact we’ve had so far is exposing students to professional development opportunities that they might not have had otherwise,” Barnes said. “Just in this school year, we’ve had national partners from KPMG and Ernst & Young meet with NABA members. They’ve also come to campus for Beta Alpha Psi presentations.”
NABA members get to participate in professional development workshops and networking activities with professionals from various firms, which creates excellent opportunities for them to start establishing connections and building relationships. In only the first year, the group has recruited more than 30 members and attended a regional student conference in Atlanta.
“This is only the beginning for the Ole Miss NABA chapter, and I see big and bright things in its future,” Moody said. “It is my hope that the current members will continue to build the chapter and keep the legacy going.”
“I would like to thank my fellow classmates in the School of Accountancy for being supportive of our organization,” Barnes said. “We have lots of things in store for the future.”
NABA meets at 4 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month in Connor Hall, Room 212. For more information or to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.