By Simran Kumari
Most college students dream about receiving a big scholarship that would help them cover their tuition and related expenses. Teva Stinson, a recent Auburn University at Montgomery graduate, turned this dream into a reality by earning a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).
“I did not expect it. I was on the phone when I opened my email and I just started screaming,” said Stinson, who became the Chancellor’s Scholar for the College of Business and earned the Outstanding Student Award for the School of Accountancy. Her achievements and on-campus involvement inspired her to pursue her Masters of Accountancy at AUM this fall.
She is the first AUM student to earn a scholarship from the PCAOB, a private sector non-profit corporation created through Congress’ passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The organization oversees audits of public companies and other issuers, protecting investors’ interests and ensuring preparation of accurate and independent audit reports. The PCAOB Scholars Program awards scholarship funds generated from the collection of monetary penalties paid by companies.
Stinson took time to discuss her scholarship, as well as the value of her internship experience with the Alabama Department of Revenue.
How does it feel to become the first AUM School of Accountancy student to earn a $10,000 merit-based scholarship from PCAOB?
“It's absolutely amazing. I did not expect it, especially now when I am going into my master's program. It just feels amazing. I hope that one day I'm able to give scholarships to the other students so that they can feel the same way.”
What's your day-to-day like in your internship and what has been its most valuable aspect?
“It is really wonderful. When I started my internship, I was extremely nervous but I was excited. First couple of days, you’re learning the rules and what exactly sales tax is. I have a mentor who is actually from the same place I am from and she is wonderful. She took things step-by-step in a very slow pace. We file sales tax for taxpayers if they come in and answer questions. We also do auditing. I have had the pleasure of submitting my first audit and it was amazing. It’s real work and it’s great hands-on experience. I have always been more interested in auditing than just tax in general. So, gaining those skills was extremely valuable. Working with taxpayers and customer service — making people feel comfortable; I love that aspect because you never know you might be in their shoes one day.”
How do you think pursuing a Masters of Accountancy will factor into your career ambitions?
“It is a major factor for me because I want to sit for the CPA exam (Certified Public Accountant). Basically, that's one of the highest achievements you can have as an accountant. So, I want to be able to add a few more letters to my name and I know once I achieve that, I will be competent to a level where I can basically do anything in accounting. Having my own business later on is definitely a thought in my mind. Especially while working with the Department of Revenue, you kind of see some of the things that go into a business. I definitely know that whatever I do, I want to be able to help other people.”
What are the different clubs and organizations you have been involved in during your time as an undergraduate at AUM?
“AUM Women Lead Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Sigma Alpha Pi (NSLS), Phi Kappa Phi, Accounting club and I was also one of the Business Ambassadors for the College of Business.”
What were your main reasons for choosing Auburn University at Montgomery?
“I came from a very small high school — Loachapoka High School — and I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t too far from home. So, proximity was one of the big reasons. I love a lot of things about AUM, especially their scholarship opportunities and living arrangements. I absolutely loved the living arrangements. I thought AUM offers some great opportunities, like to choose which dorm you want to live in. I'm extremely appreciative to AUM as a whole for all my opportunities that I've had and all the scholarships that I've earned to get to this point and I just look forward to seeing a lot of other students excel as well.”
Do have any advice for other students who want to apply for such scholarships?
“Go for it! You will never know if you will ever get anything until you put yourself out there. So, I would say, just go for it. Work hard while you're here in college because people who offer scholarships want to know that the money was actually going to someone who wants to be there, someone who is using it properly. Most of all, don't give up! It’s really hard but just keep pushing because in the end it’s going to pay off. I would suggest students to take their UNIV class seriously, especially the personality and the career tests because those will give you an outlook on things you're interested in that you might have not considered. Also, take advantage of the free tutoring. Set yourself up to be the best candidate.”
Simran Kumari is an intern in Auburn University’s Office of Communications.