Saint Leo’s Traditional and Online Accounting Degree Rewards Students with Top Jobs

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Record number of Saint Leo University graduates land jobs with Big Four accounting firms

Seven graduates of Saint Leo University’s on-campus undergraduate accounting program have been hired by Big Four accountancy firms this year. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) hired six members of the Class of 2011, and Ernst & Young hired one. The student placements at these prestigious firms are a big win for the graduates themselves, and also for Saint Leo’s accounting department—where nearly half the students are enrolled in the online accounting degree program.

The Big Four—PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and KPMG—are the four largest international accountancy firms, and perform a majority of the audits on publicly traded companies. For recent Saint Leo graduates, gaining experience at the Big Four lays a strong foundation for a future in business—employees gain exposure to a wide range of clients and business scenarios, and learn how to adapt to a dynamic, global work environment.

Who Are the Standout Students?

The seven Saint Leo University accounting students who landed Big Four jobs include:

· Davion Cooper: A native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, Cooper started out at Saint Leo as a Computer Information Systems major before he discovered his love for accounting. “Accounting is like solving an intricate puzzle,” he says. “It requires analytical and reasoning skills and gives me a chance to have a direct impact on a business setting.” Cooper plans to apply his passion for solving business problems as an auditor at Ernst & Young in Raleigh, NC next year, after he earns his master’s degree. The firm offered him an academic fellowship to assist with tuition at North Carolina State University.

· Kaitlin McKenna: A Process Specialist at PwC in Tampa, Fla., McKenna says her senior capstone class, Financial Statement Analysis, prepared her especially well for her current role in examining financial statements for PwC. McKenna, who came to Saint Leo from Michigan on a volleyball scholarship, decided to declare her major as accounting at the end of her sophomore year when she took an intro to accounting class that she loved. “I believe accounting is a very classy profession. It requires good morals and values—the kind Saint Leo instills in students,” she says. “You have to be an ethical person to have a future in this profession.”

· Melinda Pierce: “Accounting is the language of business. If you have an accounting degree, you can work anywhere in business,” says Pierce, who decided to enroll at Saint Leo University while living in Germany, where her mother was serving in the U.S. Air Force. These days, Pierce is not working just anywhere—she is one of the newest members of PwC's Tampa engagement team. She plans to use her accounting experience, paired with her criminal justice minor, to one day land her dream job—investigating white-collar crime.

From Accounting Classes to the Business World

When recruiters look for talent, the first factor they consider is education. Saint Leo University’s accounting faculty has worked hard to differentiate the program and hold students to a higher standard of excellence. Over the last four years, the department made several significant improvements including: adding new faculty, revising the curriculum, and creating greater consistency between the campus classes and the online courses.

Students enrolled in the campus and online accounting degree programs share access to the same qualified professors, career development resources and challenging curriculum. Notable courses that hone students' workforce readiness include:

· Essentials Business Skills
· Advanced Accounting
· Cost Accounting
· Advanced Auditing
· Accounting Information Systems
· Individual Federal Income Taxes
· Financial Statement Analysis (Capstone)

Each class is available to both on-campus students and those pursuing the online accounting degree.

“Students come out of our accounting classes with more than the ability to create balance sheets. They have a clear understanding of the concepts behind them and their importance in the real world,” says Dr. Passard C. Dean, associate professor of accounting.

Faculty engagement is one of the greatest strengths of Saint Leo University’s accounting department, where professors are not just teachers but also mentors and career coaches. Partial credit for the Class of 2011 student placements goes to Dr. Dean, who contacted the recruiter at PwC and persuaded the firm to interview his standout students. Dr. Dean has placed students in internships with accounting firms every summer, tapping into the professional networks he built during his years of working in the corporate sector.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo ranks as one of the top universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” list. Saint Leo’s traditional liberal arts campus, located 30 miles north of Tampa, educates more than 1,900 students. Total enrollment across its campus, continuing education centers, and online programs exceeds 15,000. Saint Leo University is one of the nation's 10 leading providers of higher education to the U.S. military, and is a nationally recognized leader in online education.

For more information about Saint Leo University's online accounting degree, visit http://online.saintleo.edu/academics/bachelors-programs/online-accounting-degree.aspx

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Jo-Ann Johnston
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