Thirty years ago, a group of Florida International University accounting students came together to establish a chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for accounting, finance and information systems students.
Several decades later, FIU warmly welcomed back over 100 of those who made Beta Alpha Psi part of their College of Business experience. The June 3 event, held at the College of Business at the FIU Modesto Maidique campus, featured meet-ups with old friends and current colleagues, catch-ups with favorite professors and introductions to student members of today’s chapter.
For the alumni, it was all about reconnection.
“I haven’t been here for a very long time,” said Cristy Rubio, who earned both an undergraduate accounting degree and master’s in tax from FIU and now works at Millares & Company, Inc., a Coral Gables CPA firm. Seeing friends brought back reasons for joining Beta Alpha Psi. “It exposed me to a lot – I learned about how networking and relationships matter to one’s career,” she said.
Beta Alpha Psi members have to maintain a 3.0 GPA and are expected to be active in the chapter. They develop friendships as well as skills from networking to giving presentations that give them a professional leg up. Finally, they have opportunities to interact with potential employers and enter the accounting community.
FIU nurtures ties to alumni at event.
“It’s important for us to keep the connections with the professional community, and important for them to keep learning and networking with one another,” said Ruth Ann Mc Ewen, director of the School of Accounting.
Also greeting attendees was College of Business Acting Dean Jose M. Aldrich, who was a founding member of the University of Miami Beta Alpha Psi chapter in 1972.
He noted that he frequently runs across FIU accounting alumni at community events. What’s more, he said, in today’s world, where people stay in touch mainly via social media, getting together takes on greater meaning.
“It’s important to meet face-to-face,” Aldrich said. “When you shake someone’s hand, it strengthens bonds and relationships.”
Among hugs and handshakes, recollections of ties formed.
“I always think it’s great to reconnect with folks you shared such a great experience with,” said Rebecca Priegues Sproul, audit partner at KPMG. She was on the FIU Beta Alpha Psi board in 1992, and has both undergraduate and graduate degrees from FIU. “These are the people you were in the trenches with.”
Also attending were several FIU chapter founding members, such as Lester Law, who was president of that first board in 1986 and explained that a small group of students worked on getting the Eta Iota chapter to FIU for about three years. Said fellow founding member Laura Pedre: “We thought it would be great to have a chapter. I knew it would be a stepping stone to a great career, and it was.”
The event was organized by Desiree Elias, a School of Accounting faculty member and its alumni advisor. An alumna of FIU’s undergraduate and graduate programs, she organized the chapter’s 10-year alumni reunion as a student member and subsequent reunions now as a faculty member.
It was great to see people reconnect, she said. “In fact, many alumni thought that we should have reunions annually, and that was the best feedback possible,” Elias added. Attendees also expressed interest in creating a professional Beta Alpha Psi chapter, which would support the student chapter by providing mentors and expanding internship opportunities. “This would be the first professional BAP chapter in the country and we are excited about working on its creation during the summer,” Elias said.
Helping staff the event were members of the FIU’s fall 2016 Beta Alpha Psi executive board, including incoming president Daniel Perrino. “As you see, there are many people of different ages here,” he said. “It’s something I like to see – these people were together years ago. I would like to network with everyone. You never know what will happen in five or 10 years.”