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Beta Alpha Psi Initiates First Members

In a ceremony that took place in February, nearly three dozen accounting students promised to uphold the mission of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information students and professionals.

The occasion was a first for Washington and Lee University. The university applied for a charter to establish a Beta Alpha Psi chapter last summer, and this group of students—all juniors and seniors—was the first to be inducted.

The chapter is advised by accounting professor Afshad Irani with support from accounting professor Megan Hess and department chair Elizabeth Oliver.

“Afshad worked with the students to bring Beta Alpha Psi to campus this year, and Megan joined him in the fall. They, along with the students, have been instrumental in making the organization successful,” said Oliver. “Representatives of the accounting firms believe that the organization facilitates the members’ growth, and we have seen that this year through the amazing programing the group has put together.”

Washington and Lee’s new Beta Alpha Psi chapter will not formally receive its charter until it has been in operation for two academic years. The international organization expects each of its more than 300 chapters to host at least eight professional meetings per year, run a series of professional development seminars for students, use mock interviews to prepare members for the recruitment process and engage in meaningful community service projects. Only when W&L’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter demonstrates that it has fulfilled those requirements will the international organization grant the university a charter.

Paige Hogan ’15 was elected president of the group last fall and helped prepare the chapter’s bylaws. She credits Beta Alpha Psi with fostering a sense of teamwork and camaraderie among accounting students.

“It’s good for accounting students to have this extracurricular outlet,” said Hogan. “Beta Alpha Psi helps students learn about their options. It’s not just about the big four.”

Under Hogan’s leadership, Beta Alpha Psi hosted four events during the fall term, and another two this past winter. Jules Miata ’09 is a recruiter with EY and visited campus to lead a resume prep workshop. Andrea Hidalgo ’09, who’s a consultant with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, gave a talk on anti-money laundering consulting. Tom Hurlbut ’87 is the controller for Norfolk Southern and spoke about his experiences there. Most recently, Tom and Raina Tagle from Baker Tilly spoke about their careers and the advantages of working for a regional firm.

In addition to the individual speakers Beta Alpha Psi has brought to campus, the chapter co-sponsored the accounting department’s annual accounting panel. The program brings together a group of alumni for a candid conversation about what life in the profession is really like.

Beta Alpha Psi also hosted a panel on fifth-year graduate programs for students who want to complete 150 credit hours and sit for their CPA exam. The program featured representatives from the University of Virginia, Notre Dame, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest and William & Mary.

Hogan and her classmates are working hard to establish a philanthropic component to the chapter’s programming. Many members tutor students in Introductory Financial Management Accounting, and two students were recently placed in the Low-Income Tax Clinic, which is funded by a grant from the Internal Revenue Service and run through Washington and Lee’s School of Law.

Beta Alpha Psi members are actively recruiting speakers for the 2015-16 academic year. The full schedule will be online, and alumni who are interested in participating should get in touch with Beta Alpha Psi’s new president, Andrea Owen, at owena16@mail.wlu.edu.

“It’s great to be able to use the national power of Beta Alpha Psi to establish relationships with accounting firms,” said Hogan. “Ultimately, it’s those relationships that will make us a stronger organization.”