Manning School Hosts MassCPAs’ Annual ‘Is Accounting for Me?’ Conference

A group of 60 students and teachers pose for a group photo in the lobby of a business school Image by Ed Brennen
More than 50 local high school students toured the Pulichino Tong Business Center and learned about the Manning School of Business during the recent "Is Accounting for Me?" conference at UMass Lowell.

By Ed Brennen

Richard Abbott ’86 discovered it after “bombing miserably” as an electrical engineering major. Jessica Yu ’13 is pursuing it after earning a degree in public health. Nick Tamvaklis ’10 turned to it following 2008’s global financial crisis.

Each UML alum had a different reason for choosing a career in accounting — reasons they shared with more than 50 high school students from across the region at “Is Accounting for Me?” a half-day conference held recently on North Campus.

Started 20 years ago by the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MassCPAs), this was the first time the conference was held at UML. 

“We have a great partnership with UMass Lowell; the students here are fabulous. And we knew a lot of high schools in the area would be interested,” said Allie Orlando, director of academic and career development for MassCPAs. 

The organization offers free memberships to high school and college students and awarded nearly $40,000 in scholarships in 2021-22 to Manning School of Business accounting students.

“We’re thrilled to help high school students learn what the accounting profession is all about and show them that UMass Lowell is an exciting place to pursue their degree,” said Accounting Prof. and department Chair Khondkar Karim.

Three women and two men pose for a group photo while standing behind a table Image by Ed Brennen
An accounting career panel included, from left, Jessica Yu '13, Nick Tamvaklis '10, Pierrette Dingue '07, '14, Richard Abbott '86 and Deondra Ricketts.
Students from Lowell, Haverhill, Peabody, Northeast Metro Tech and Wachusett Regional high schools heard from accounting professionals, learned about the Manning School’s accounting program from students and faculty and toured the Pulichino Tong Business Center. 

Senior accounting students David Levine and Sarah David co-hosted a panel discussion with five industry professionals: Abbott, director of global tax for Advent International Corporation; Tamvaklis, partner at PFK O’Connor Davies; Yu, a tax intern at LGA; Pierrette Dingue ’07, ’14, audit manager at Baker Tilly US; and Deondra Ricketts, tax associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Accounting is the language of business, so anything that you learn will help you in your career,” said Dingue, who is a member of the Manning School’s accounting advisory board along with Tamvaklis.

“There are so many different career paths in accounting — public, private, government, teaching,” added Yu, who earned a public health degree at UML and is now pursuing a master’s degree in accounting at Northeastern University. “If you choose to do accounting, you can keep evolving and do different things with your life.”

A woman in glasses smiles while holding up a piece of paper as seated students look on Image by Ed Brennen
Sophomore business major Tracy Lam leads high school students through an accounting exercise during a conference breakout session.
Several employees from Deloitte, including accounting alum Jack Hambelton ’20, ’21, held a career exploration workshop and discussed the company’s MADE (Making Accounting Diverse and Equitable) initiative.

“I had no idea what I was doing in high school, but I chose accounting as my concentration (at UML) and it worked well for me,” said Hambelton, a native of Littleton, Massachusetts, who is a senior assistant at Deloitte.

Following lunch at the Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, the high school students participated in breakout sessions with 10 UML accounting students: Arvin Nunez, Riva Chatsman, Catherine St. Pierre, Lily Hammar, Jonathan Vixamar, Tracy Lam, Alexander Williams, Diego Diaz Tijerina, Levine and David.

“They were excited to talk with us, and we had a great time answering their questions about college,” David said. “It's easy to feel lost in those last few years of high school, so I hope they were able to gain a brief understanding of what it's like to study accounting and see that, at UML, we have a great community in the accounting department.”

A young woman and man speak while standing at a podium Image by Ed Brennen
Senior accounting students Sarah David and David Levine lead a panel discussion at Saab ETIC.
Thirteen students from Lowell High were able to walk to the conference with their accounting teacher, business alumna Jackie Taylor ’87.

“I hope it energizes them to see how what we learn in the classroom relates to the working world — and that they have a great opportunity to study accounting right here in Lowell,” said Taylor, who has taught at Lowell High for 26 years. 

Lori Capra, an accounting teacher at Haverhill High who has taken students to previous conferences at Bentley University, was happy to see UML host the event.

“The campus, just like the students’ careers, is right around the corner,” she said. “This is a prime time for them to hear from young alumni working in the accounting profession.”