At Xero, we’re passionate about mentoring and encouraging the next generation of accounting, small business, and finance leaders. One of many industry associations we are proud to support is the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). We were honored to be on the ground at NABA’s Annual Convention last month as a sponsor of their 2022 scholarship program, which has provided over $375,000 in scholarships to their students.
I also had the privilege of meeting our scholarship recipient and am thrilled to introduce Caymen Woods. Continue reading to learn more about Caymen’s impressive background, perspectives, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am originally from Naperville, Illinois and I’m currently a senior studying accounting and business analytics at the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. I plan to pursue the five year Masters of Accountancy program that will allow me to qualify for the CPA exam. At the Tippie College of Business, I work as a DEI ambassador, primarily serving as a student coordinator for the Black in Business Series. I also serve as a peer mentor for our BizEdge mentoring program designed to help provide underrepresented students with community support as well as resources and opportunities to be successful. Outside of college, I hold many roles in Black student organizations on campus. I am President of the Alpha Theta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and President of Hubbard Scholars.
This summer, I am working at Deloitte as a Business Tax Services Intern in their Chicago office. I am excited to serve in a client-facing role and experience the day-to-day responsibilities of a tax consultant at a Big Four accounting firm. So far, I’ve enjoyed learning a variety of tax software and forming new connections with my fellow interns and Deloitte professionals.
What motivated you to pursue accounting as a career path? How do you want to influence the profession?
I am passionate about helping underrepresented individuals advance in the industry. The past couple years, I have been involved in the BizEdge mentoring program at University of Iowa, serving as both a mentee and a mentor. Through this program, I continually make connections with other students from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as faculty members. This group has provided me with a community in which I truly feel I belong and contribute to. Also, last summer, I worked as a peer mentor through the Tippie Gateway. In my work as a DEI ambassador for the Tippie College of Business,and specifically with the Black in Business Series, I help provide Black business students with the opportunity to connect with professionals and succeed at Tippie.
I was influenced to pursue the accounting profession early during my high school experience. I took an introductory bookkeeping accounting class during my sophomore year. I had a natural affinity for the subject and my teacher made the material very engaging and fun to learn. The following summer, I participated in the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP) sponsored by NABA in Chicago where I had the opportunity to meet and hear from accounting professionals about their work experience and the benefits of the profession. After participating in this program, my mind was made up.
You mentioned your main goal for the upcoming year is to get the University of Iowa affiliated with NABA. What inspires you to pursue this effort?
I am inspired to establish a University of Iowa-affiliated chapter because I believe it would help provide exposure to the accounting profession, particularly for Black high school students in the Iowa area and the undecided students on campus. As I mentioned, the ACAP played a major role in my pursuit of a CPA. I believe that if I could help establish a NABA chapter affiliated with the University of Iowa, we could begin to sponsor the program on our campus and bring in Black students from the state of Iowa and beyond to learn about accounting and shed light on opportunities in the profession.
As for the students on campus, I personally know how discouraging it can be to join a club or organization without many people that look like you. I believe with an active chapter of NABA on campus, we will create an opportunity for Black students to get a headstart on their careers and inspire more potential accounting professionals.
What excites you the most about the upcoming year?
This upcoming year, I am most excited for graduation. College days swiftly pass, and as a senior now it feels like just yesterday I was a freshman on campus nervous about finding the correct building for my classes. Reflecting on my experience, I have developed into everything I could hope for myself and accomplished many of my goals. So now I just want to put my best foot forward in completing my final year of undergrad and walking across the stage.
What can we find you doing outside of classes and on the weekends?
Obviously I am very busy with several extracurriculars outside of my classes; however, when I’m not in meetings or facilitating events after class, I enjoy baking, working out, and playing basketball, and attending University of Iowa athletic events.
Any other parting advice for other students?
My parting advice for my fellow students is that your college experience will only be what you make of it. By that, I mean graduating college and getting your degree is a goal many people have, and that’s admirable. However, your education is also about propelling yourself forward to grow as a person and prepare you for your career, outside of what can be taught in a classroom or internship. So, I encourage you all to discover your passions and get involved in things that utilize them. Get to know professors, administrators, and alumni of your school who can help put you in the position to succeed after graduation. And most importantly, enjoy your experience and leave your mark on your school.