Education

YSU Event Fosters Next Generation of Women Accountants

By Marah Morrison

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The fourth annual Women in Accounting event, which took place at Youngstown State University Friday, was born out of an overheard conversation. 

Marsha Huber, a professor of accounting at YSU, said about five years ago, volunteer tax preparations were being done, but the computers were down. She said while everyone was waiting, she overheard two young women talking to one another about accounting.

“They didn’t think they could go into it because they couldn’t have families. I was like, ‘Hey, wait a minute,’ ” she said. “I realized that whether true or not, our young women have certain concerns that we can’t talk about at a mixed audience.” 

Huber gathered YSU faculty members and helped create an event for young women and over time, a vow has been a part of it. She said women practitioners are now invited to the event along with students. 

“We plan everything together,” she said. “The topics, our drawings. We use design thinking to come up with our topics and our menu. Everything is planned with the whole group.” 

The event is organized to host around 20 attendees, a number Huber said was chosen to help foster a comfortable environment for the women.

“We want our young women to feel comfortable as the day goes on,” she said. “[We want them] to be able to ask questions and learn from our speakers [who] have made it to the top of their professions.” 

This year’s keynote speaker was Safa Khaleq, a YSU alumna and certified public accountant. Among her experience is consulting federal agencies in audit readiness, internal controls and tax preparations for individuals.

Huber said the group was thrilled to have Khaleq come in from Washington, D.C., to spend time with them. As a Muslim and a woman, she wants to show people that anyone can get to the top, she said. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what faith you are [or] that you’re a woman,” Khaleq said. “You can get to the top.” 

Huber said in the end, she wants this group and this event to change the lives of other people and to let them know they are not alone. 

Sara Salman, a YSU graduate student, said it is nice to be with a group of women she can relate to and who feel the same as her about many topics. She said it is exciting and she has learned a lot from it. 

“They [faced] some stuff in life [that] they can share with you [and] you can learn from it,” she said. 

Salman said she is graduating in May and wants to pursue public accounting full time. 

Katrena Davidson, a controller at YSU, said she loves the fact she can take what she does in her profession and help students decide what the path they want to take. She said she loves communicating with them and talking to them about her experiences. 

“This is the second time I’ve been involved in this event,” she said. “I love the fact that I can add value to these students and be there as a mentor.” 

Davidson said she wished that an event like this was something that would have been available to her when she was younger in her career. 

Jennifer Murphy, a YSU accounting student, said she loves meeting those who attend this event and listening to them talk about how they got to where they are now. 

“They are just like us,” she said. “We’re really all the same.” 

Anupma Pokharel, a freshman YSU accounting student, said she feels like she has the potential to do well in her career, but is not sure about it. By being at this event, she is able to find out exactly what she is capable of accomplishing. 

“I’m looking forward to do something in that so that I can explore and get to know myself in a better way,” she said. 

Pictured:Marie Belloto, Lisa Metzinger, Trinette Simon and Katrena Davidson were among the speakers at Women in Accounting Day at the Williamson College of Business Administration.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.