As the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) began selecting scholarship recipients for its PCAOB Scholars Program for the upcoming academic school year, two Naveen Jindal School of Management accounting students looked back on their selection the previous year and explained how it changed their lives.
Patricia Gomez Pimentel, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Accounting degree, and Bailey Stone, a senior in the Professional Program in Accounting (PPA) program, were among 234 accounting students at accredited U.S. colleges and universities each awarded $10,000 merit-based scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic school year.
“I got an email saying that I had been selected, and I cried,” Stone said. “I was tearing up because it’s just a lot of money. And not yet realizing how few students get that scholarship — that was huge for me, too.”
The award helped her pay for tuition and books for her senior year. Ever since she first enrolled in college, her father has helped her formulate and implement a plan to remain as debt-free as long as possible.
“As someone going into a financial services field, I understand how important that is,” she said.
Stone recently completed an internship with EY, a Big Four professional services firm. After she obtains her master’s degree, she plans to work full time for EY in external auditing and public accounting. As a fast-track student, she has begun graduate courses in the MS in Accounting program at JSOM so that she can earn her master’s degree in just one year after she gets her undergraduate degree in May.
According to its website, the PCAOB — a nonprofit organization Congress formed in 2002 when the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed into law — oversees “the audits of public companies in order to protect investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, accurate, and independent audit reports. The PCAOB also oversees the audits of brokers and dealers, including compliance reports filed pursuant to federal securities laws.”
Enacted in response to several corporate and accounting scandals, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that monetary penalties imposed on companies in enforcement actions the act mandates be used to fund merit scholarships in accredited accounting degree programs.
Stone said “it’s really cool” that the money she received from the penalties helps fund her education.
“It’s really interesting that those penalties are funding my education to become someone who tries to ensure the integrity of financial statements as much as possible,” she said.
Pimentel, who emigrated from Cuba with her mother in 2016, studied full time but also worked full time to make ends meet while staying debt-free. She went to Dallas College’s Richland Campus for two years and paid cash for her education. When she transferred to UT Dallas, her daughter was born. As a single mother, she could no longer work, maintain high grades and go to school full time.
“I tried to shoot for those grades to see if I could get some scholarships and get the school to pay for my education,” she said.
She was able to get several JSOM and UT Dallas scholarships and grants, but still struggled to remain debt-free, even as an honors student.
“I cannot imagine what I would have had to do if I hadn’t gotten these scholarships,” she said.
When asked what advice she would give to students in a similar position, she said that the obstacles will come but you have to keep pushing through.
“If you do study hard and you do really want anything, you can do it,” she said. “It just takes a lot of work. You’re going to have a lot of steppingstones in the middle.”
Although she faced many challenges in her personal life along the way, she realized that she was strong enough to learn from those experiences and grow from them. She credited her background for helping her to avoid becoming discouraged in difficult times.
“I don’t take anything for granted because I come from a very, very difficult Communist country where I didn’t have anything,” she said. “It didn’t matter how hard I tried. I could not get anywhere. Here, even though I have had many, many steppingstones, nothing can compare to where I came from.”
She said the trick is to keep looking forward to her goals.
“If you do it,” she said, “you will get that reward at the end. Guaranteed.”
Tiffany Bortz, director of the PPA and associate area coordinator for Accounting programs in the Jindal School, said that Stone and Pimentel are excellent students who are very deserving of these scholarships.
“We are proud to have them represent the UT Dallas PPA Program as they begin their careers in the assurance practices of their respective accounting firms,” she said.
— Jimmie R. Markham