From campus to career: JSU students elevate their futures at NABA conference

(Photo special to JSU)

by Aron Smith

Jackson State University’s College of Business, Division of Athletics, and JSU Student Success provided eight students with an unparalleled opportunity to network and enhance their college experience at the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) Insight 2024 conference, held from June 20-23.

This annual event united industry leaders, dynamic visionaries, and black business professionals in an empowering setting, catalyzing personal and professional development worldwide.

Fidelis Ikem, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business, highlighted the event’s significance, noting, “Our MBA program is rapidly growing and improving. We aim to continuously elevate our educational standards and provide enriching experiences that celebrate and enhance our students’ success.”

This year’s conference, themed ‘Insight 2024 FLOW,’ featured a comprehensive agenda designed to equip attendees with skills to balance professional challenges and leverage opportunities. The conference was a nexus of learning and networking, from insightful sessions to opportunities for earning Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

Among the attendees were Kazarius Bowie, Jocelyn Brown, and Tikyra Williams, whose participation significantly impacted their paths to becoming young business professionals.

Kazarius Bowie, a junior finance major and Division I athlete, marked his first professional conference and plane ride with this trip. Encouraged by Malone Silver, JSU’s assistant athletic director for academics, Bowie saw the conference as a pivotal opportunity, marking a series of exhilarating and enlightening firsts. “It was a chance to network and potentially shape my future,” Bowie explained.

Throughout the conference, Bowie was captivated by the diversity and commonality of experiences shared by attendees from various backgrounds, including those from historically marginalized communities. This diverse environment fostered a strong sense of community and mutual support that fueled his ambition.

Bowie stressed the importance of organizations like JSU’s College of Business and the athletic department, highlighting opportunities for students to discover and fulfill their potential beyond sports. “They expose us to opportunities that can profoundly impact our professional and personal growth,” he said.

As he continues his academic and athletic career at JSU, he remains committed to leveraging his experiences to contribute to his community in Jackson. He aims to inspire and lead future generations toward greater financial literacy and entrepreneurial success.

Bobbi W. Daniels, Ph.D., Interim Chair of the Department of Accounting, Finance, and Entrepreneurship, highlighted the value of real-world exposure. “Attending the NABA conference equips our students with the knowledge and connections to serve as a strong foundation for success,” she explained.

The NABA conference was a significant turning point for Jocelyn Brown, a junior finance major who struggled to balance two jobs with her academic responsibilities. Previously overwhelmed by her schedule and nearing academic burnout, Brown’s participation, prompted by mentorship from College of Business Special Project Coordinator Jennifer Steele, became a transformative experience that helped her realign her priorities.

“I usually couldn’t attend career fairs because of my job commitments, so this was my chance to meet companies in my field,” Brown explained.

Networking emerged as a critical component of the conference. Brown connected with industry professionals and peers alike, expanding her network and gaining mentors who offer continuous support. “Networking with people who share my career interests has given me a new perspective on what I can achieve,” she noted.

As Brown looks to her future, she is more determined than ever to use the knowledge and connections from the conference to guide her decisions. “I’ve learned to prioritize what’s truly important, and right now, that’s my education and future career,” she stated.

Returning participant Tikyra Williams, a junior finance major and Blue Ambassador, found her second NABA conference experience even more enriching. “The atmosphere was electric with professionalism and ambition. It’s incredibly motivating to be surrounded by individuals who share similar goals,” Williams described.

Williams also valued the networking opportunities that allowed her to connect with other JSU students and professionals from broad sectors, including corporations like Amazon, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Edward Jones. This exposure has already begun to yield results, with Williams receiving an internship opportunity from Global Atlantic, a notable company she met.

Reflecting on the event, Williams emphasized the importance of such opportunities for personal and professional growth. “Anyone considering attending a conference like NABA should go for it. The opportunities for growth, learning, and networking are invaluable. It’s about putting yourself out there and taking advantage of every chance to advance,” she advised.