Business School Offers Accounting Honors Institute to High School Students

Posted on January 9, 2013

A group of high school students have been given the opportunity to learn about accounting and whether they have what the profession demands.

Through the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business Accounting Honors Institute (AHI), the students will participate in six sessions held on Saturday mornings in January, February and March. Each month will be devoted to a key topic in the accounting profession: software used for enterprises resource planning (ERP); fraud and forensics; and financial statement analysis, respectively.

For the past 10 years, the AHI has provided this experience for one or two students from approximately 10 to 15 area high schools. According to Valerie Trott Williams, assistant professor of accounting and AHI director, enrollment is capped at 25, a number that corresponds to the headcount in an undergraduate accounting class at Duquesne.

The relatively small class size, Williams said, helps to guarantee a rewarding educational experience for the students. And, since the business school uses state-of-the-art ERP software and has a computer system that other colleges and universities would envy, Duquesne is capable of providing an invaluable encounter with accounting for the AHI participants.

In addition to teaching them technical skills and accounting’s career potential, AHI also introduces Duquesne and the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business to the high schoolers, and, for many AHI participants, the experience plays a crucial role in helping to decide if accounting will be right for them.

Among those AHI participants who do decide to pursue accounting as a profession, either as a licensed CPA or in some other capacity, a significant number have chosen to enroll at Duquesne. “We track the DU college application rate from the students who were exposed the program, and the rate has been approximately 30 percent,” Williams said.

Butler High senior and current AHI participant Caitlyn Shaw has already decided to become a Duquesne freshman next fall. Citing the reasons for her choice, she said that she fell in love with the campus and loves the city. Most importantly, Shaw noted that, “the accounting program is supposed to be fantastic.”

Kaitlyn Cubarney, a 2006 AHI alumnus, is one of those students for whom AHI participation helped to clarify career choices. She earned her bachelor’s in accounting from Duquesne, is currently pursuing a Master of Accountancy degree in the Donahue School of Business and, after graduation, has a position waiting for her with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“The Accounting Honors Institute helped me to choose both Duquesne University as well as accounting as my major,” Cubarney said. “Furthermore, building relationships with faculty before college made the transition from high school to higher education much easier.”

AHI participation is open to all high school students who have an interest in business as a career, but a teacher or guidance counselor must nominate students for the program.


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