Athlete brings black accountant association to campus

July 22, 2014

As a freshman, Corrigan Powell almost failed his first accounting class. This spring, he graduated with his MAcc degree, a job at EY and the accomplishment of starting the new chapter of National Association of Black Accountants at KU.

When Powell first started at KU, he was swamped with schoolwork and football practice, his mother wasn’t well, and Kansas was a bit of an adjustment from his home in Texas. But faculty members at the School of Business were determined to see Powell succeed.

“The business school, Lisa (Ottinger), Renate (Mai-Dalton), the Multicultural Scholars Program, they all reached out and tried to work with me, keep me motivated in school,” Powell said.

It was a challenge, but Powell brought his GPA up and eventually earned an internship at EY and also attended the company’s Emerging Leaders Program in Washington, D.C. While at EY, he learned about National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) through a colleague. He planned to join the student chapter when he returned to KU, but to his surprise, there was no chapter — not one in the entire state.

With the help of his fraternity brothers, Multicultural Business Scholars and others at the business school, Powell recruited enough new members during the school year to get the group approved.

“The driving force for me was I realized over the last year there was an increase in minority students at KU,” Powell said. “Freshman and sophomores were deciding on their majors and many were interested in the school.”

Powell participated in several student organizations on campus, but being a minority did make him stand out sometimes, and not everyone is comfortable being in that situation, he said. By starting NABA, he hopes more minority students will get involved in the business school and accounting.

“I feel like it’ll be a great tool for KU,” he said. “It’s a great addition to the organizations at KU.”

Powell also hoped the group would draw interest from recruiters and professional organizations interested in hiring diverse graduates, he said. With leadership in place for next year, the group has already gained interest from companies wanting to host events and recruit from their group, he added.

“I thank all the professors for helping me get to where I am,” Powell said. “Hopefully I made an impact on people at KU, too.”

Powell is now an auditor at EY in Houston.

This story is featured in the latest issue of AIS Channels, the official magazine for accounting and information systems Jayhawks. Read the online version