Rachel McKenna was not expecting a scholarship at this stage in her academic career at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Now she has found a way to help fund her graduate studies.
The Jindal School senior, a fast-track accounting major who also is pursuing a BS in finance degree, learned recently that the charitable arm of Ascend, a 60,000-member Pan-Asian professional organization, had awarded her a $5,000 scholarship.
McKenna’s prize, the AICPA Scholarship, was one of 11 offered this year by the Ascend Foundation for scholastic excellence and community contributions. The nonprofit organization distributed the award in partnership with the American Institute of CPAs, which provided the funding.
“This award affirms the fact that I chose the right profession for me,” she said. “It means a lot that the AICPA is investing in my future.”
The committee who interviewed McKenna and other candidates had explained to her why she was being considered and the kind of students being sought.
“They told me that I was involved in quite a bit at school and that they were looking for someone really passionate about accounting,” she said.
A member of the Jindal School’s Professional Program in Accounting, McKenna plans to sit for her CPA exam upon graduation and then pursue a career as an external auditor. She was an accounting intern last summer at RealPage and plans to stay in the Dallas area.
She serves in a variety of leadership roles on campus, including as a leader for Ascend’s UT Dallas chapter, a student organization she joined as a freshman. She has been an ambassador for JSOM’s Career Management Center and has been mentoring business students since her sophomore year. She was an office assistant for more than two years at the Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance, and is currently a supplemental instruction leader at the UT Dallas Student Success Center.
That the award went to McKenna comes as no surprise to Tiffany A. Bortz, an accounting senior lecturer at the Jindal School who taught one of her classes last semester.
“It’s very well deserved,” said Bortz, who serves as the associate coordinator for the Accounting Area. “She’s just one of those conscientious students that jumps out at you — front row, tons of insightful questions and always thinking about the big picture. She’s mature beyond her years, very poised and extremely bright.”
McKenna traveled to San Francisco recently to attend Ascend’s 2018 National Convention. The AICPA fully funded her trip. She accepted her award at the Scholarship Luncheon on Aug 21, with the Ascend North Texas professional chapter members cheering her on.
“It’s always great when something surprising like this happens,” McKenna said. “It motivates me even more to continue working toward the achievement of my goals.”
— Jimmie R. Markham