Students Thank Alumni, Professional Organizations for Support at Networking Lunch

A group of men and women pose for a photo while standing on the steps outside of a library Image by Ed Brennen
Accounting students, faculty and alumni from the Manning School of Business gathered for a luncheon at Lydon Library to celebrate recent scholarship recipients.

By Ed Brennen

Earning two scholarships during her senior year in the Manning School of Business did more than just help accounting student Saomenea Phorn ’22 to pay her tuition.

“It showed that there is someone else on this journey with me who believes that I will achieve my goals and is willing to put their faith in my future,” says Phorn, a Lowell native who won scholarships from the Massachusetts Society of CPAs (sponsored by accounting firm Edelstein & Company) and the Powers & Sullivan Endowed Fund (created by UML alumni Jim Powers ’78 and Richard Sullivan ’79).

The Accounting Department celebrated Phorn and 10 other students who received more than $42,000 in scholarships last year at a recent luncheon at Lydon Library, where they had a chance to thank some of the alumni and professional organizations behind their awards.

Organized by Accounting Assoc. Prof. Karen Lin, the department’s director of undergraduate student success, the networking event was open to all students with a concentration in accounting, as well as top-performing students in intro-level business courses.

“We wanted to let them know about scholarship opportunities and help them understand the profession better,” she says of the celebration, which they plan to make an annual event.

A woman smiles while people to her left and right applaud for her while seated at a table Image by Ed Brennen
Senior accounting student Sarah David, center, receives a round of applause in recognition of the $2,500 MassCPA Past Chairman's Scholarship she received last year.
A panel discussion on the “purpose and passion of accounting” featured Powers and fellow alumni Larry Ardito ’69, president of Ardito, Toscano & McCollum; John Geraci ’97, managing partner at LGA; Nick Tamvaklis ’10, partner at PKF O’Connor Davies; and Jessica Greene ’13, ’14, manager at Powers & Sullivan. It also included Zach Donah, vice president of advocacy at MassCPA, and Anna Howard, senior manager of academic initiatives at the American Institute of CPAs.

Ardito recalled spending less than $1,000 on his accounting degree more than 50 years ago.

“I paid $249 a year. I’m sure the books are more than that now,” he says.

To help ensure that Manning School students have the same opportunity today that he once did, he funds two scholarships: the Ardito, Toscano & McCollum Endowed Scholarship Fund and, along with his wife Linda, the Ardito-Caffray Endowment Scholarship.

“It’s meaningful to help students along,” he says. “As a profession, we need these people educated.”

According to Accounting Department Chair and Prof. Khondkar Karim, students last year received nearly $40,000 in scholarships from MassCPA.

“Applying for a scholarship can be intimidating, so it’s nice to be able to apply for one specific to your degree,” says Sarah David, a senior accounting student from Pepperell, Massachusetts, who won the $2,500 MassCPA Past Chairman's Scholarship.

Five men and a woman pose for a photo while standing inside a room Image by Ed Brennen
Accounting Department Chair Khondkar Karim, right, welcomed alumni, from left, John Geraci '97, Nick Tamvaklis '10, Larry Ardito '69, Jim Powers '78 and Jessica Greene '13, '14 back to campus to celebrate recent scholarship winners.
Junior Sarah Curley won a $5,000 MassCPA scholarship sponsored by management consulting firm RSM. 

“Not only does it help pay for school, but the recognition gave me the motivation and confidence to succeed,” says Curley, a Salem, Massachusetts, native, who is communications chair for the Accounting Society.

Other scholarship recipients recognized were seniors David Levine (LGA-sponsored MassCPA Scholarship and Financial Executives International Scholarship) and Heer Patel (MassCPA President's Scholarship); juniors Isabelle Giles (MassCPA Alliance Scholarship), Patrick Orcino (MassCPA Alliance Scholarship and Ardito, Toscano & McCollum Endowed Scholarship), Syma Rukhsar (BNN-sponsored MassCPA Scholarship), Catherine St. Pierre (DGC-sponsored MassCPA Scholarship) and Jasmine Varona (MassCPA Emerging Scholar Award); and alum Nisarg Jhaveri ’22 (MassCPA and FEI Outstanding Graduate Award).

Powers, a partner at Powers & Sullivan in Wakefield, Massachusetts, says giving back is “an easy thing to do,” given the success his UML education has afforded him.

“We have a good pipeline of talent coming from UMass Lowell,” he says. “The program is doing a great job. The students look you in the eye when they talk to you. They’re confident in their abilities, which makes you feel good.”

Samantha Sylvester, a sophomore accounting student from Andover, Massachusetts, says attending the lunch was a good opportunity to learn how older students and alumni navigated their college careers.

“It definitely opened my eyes to scholarship opportunities that I didn’t know about before,” she says.