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State accounting leader speaks to future accountants at UNCP

May 6, 2009

Accounting is a great career with tremendous potential for the future, James T. Ahler, chief executive officer of the North Carolina Association of CPAs, told a group of 100 prospective accountants.


James Ahler

Ahler spoke at a special event on April 7 at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Titled “Come Build a Future!” the event and banquet was an information and recruitment event for prospective accounting majors, said Dr. Craig Shoulders, chair of UNCP’s Department of Accounting and Information Technology. 

 “High school and community college students and their advisers throughout the region were invited if they had an interest in an accounting career and in enrolling at UNCP,” Dr. Shoulders said. “Current UNCP students who are considering accounting as a major were invited as well.”

Ahler explained the role and functions of accountants and how the profession contributes to business and personal success. There are many opportunities for new college graduates with an accounting degree, he said.

In after-dinner remarks, Ahler drew a promising picture of the futures awaiting accounting graduates and pointed out the “portability” of the skills and knowledge acquired in the study of accountancy. 

 “New accountants are limited only by their imagination in charting their careers,” Ahler said.

He said over 75 percent of Fortune 1000 chief financial officers are CPAs. Ahler described accounting careers as rewarding and challenging, high-paying and “lifestyle-friendly.” 

Ahler particularly emphasized the value of CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification as part of a career plan.


Craig Shoulders

Dr. Shoulders outlined two goals for the program.

The first issue addressed was “how an accounting education can help you reach your goals in life.” 

 “Jim Ahler did an incomparable job addressing this first objective,” Dr. Shoulders said. “We sincerely appreciate the sacrifices he made to speak to us at this event given his schedule and responsibilities.”

The second goal was, “what can UNCP do to help maximize your opportunity to succeed in achieving a high quality, well grounded accounting education?” 

During the banquet, UNCP accounting students and alumni discussed the unique features and strengths of the School of Business’ accounting program. Local CPAs and business people shared additional information with prospective students during dinner discussions related to the importance of accounting and the quality of UNCP accounting graduates. 

William (Skip) Lovette, a 1991 graduate and CPA with Sharrard, McGee & Co. in Greensboro, attended.

“I attended the event to give back to the University and profession,” Lovette said.  “The event did a great job educating prospective accounting students on the opportunities and benefits of accountancy and how UNCP can provide the tools for a successful career.”   

Dr. Shoulders said an accounting degree provides more career flexibility and opportunity than any other business degree and most other degrees in general. 

“UNCP’s accounting faculty’s accessibility and their unique teaching and learning practices enhance any individual student’s probability of success,” Dr. Shoulders said. “The program at UNCP is intense, but the faculty are dedicated to helping conscientious, hardworking students succeed.”

Four Elkay Southern Come Build a Future! in Accounting Scholarships were awarded to prospective students who attended the banquet.  Jason Poole, president of the Sandhills Chapter of the NCACPA, presented three Sandhills Chapter scholarships to current accounting majors: Sydnie Fiesel, Richard Hart and Eunah Kim-Therrell.

For more information about careers in accounting, accounting scholarships and the accounting degree program at UNCP, please contact Dr. Shoulders by email at