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Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 2:15pm

Just weeks shy of graduation, three accounting majors received word that an article they co-wrote will be featured in a top accounting industry editorial published by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA).


The three students  Zulima Munoz, Allison Barnes and Matt Carle  graduated in May. Munoz and Carle received B.S. degrees in public accounting, while Barnes, who finished her B.S. in August, received her M.S. in public accounting. All three share a goal of working at one of the Big Four accounting firms, and have already received offers to work in those firms. 


The article is slated to appear in the May-June issue of The Trusted Professional. “It’s a well-respected editorial that’s read by thousands of practitioners in the accounting profession,” says Denise Stefano, CPA, CGMA, M.B.A., Mercy College’s accounting program chairperson and associate professor who served as the students’ mentor and advisor in the writing of this article. “This would be great exposure for anyone, but for students to be published so early in their professional career is an extraordinary accomplishment.”


Stefano, who is a past president and current board member of NYSSCPA, was approached by a colleague on the Trusted Professional editorial board asking for an article written by accounting students that focused on ethics. “I reached out to several of Mercy’s top accounting students, and eventually we had our team of three,” she says. “I met with the students to brainstorm potential newsworthy topics, and they chose the ethics of cybersecurity.”


The first order of business was establishing the mechanics of their collaboration. “We met in person only once, to divide up the areas of focus,” says Munoz. “After that we used a shared Google Doc. I’d do some research and write a few paragraphs, and later I’d go back and find new writing or changes added by Matt or Allison. It was a true collaboration.”


The trio focused on recent data breaches by Equifax and other large firms. Carle brought his background in cybersecurity, Munoz contributed impressive research skills and Barnes finessed the writing to give the piece a singular voice. “We really played to each other’s strengths,” says Barnes.


“We had so much to say, the hardest part was editing it down so we didn’t exceed the maximum word count,” says Carle with a chuckle. “It taught us to be ruthless about removing sections we thought were great but didn’t serve the purpose of the article.”


“Accounting may be about numbers, but communicating what those numbers mean requires critical thinking, research skills and writing ability,” says Stefano, who reviewed several drafts at critical points, a procedure the students found enlightening, if humbling. They were grateful for her input. “Professor Stefano really helped us refine our message and make it more concise,” says Carle.


While Munoz admitted the writing took her “out of my comfort zone,” and Carle would prefer to wait until he has more work experience, Barnes says she can see herself continuing to write for publication as her career advances, “now that I see what’s involved behind the words.”


All three students praised the School of Business for preparing them for challenges they can expect to face after graduation. “The accounting and business program at Mercy College taught us more than accounting principles,” says Barnes. “We got to practice all the elements we’ll need in our career  creating a business and doing the books, the financial analysis, marketing and presenting. Those opportunities to apply what you’ve learned are what sets Mercy apart.”


Munoz, Carle and Barnes expressed their gratitude to Stefano and the NYSSCPA for providing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while they were still in school. “We were so fortunate to be invited to do this, and it was so rewarding,” Munoz says. “We’re grateful for the opportunity, and for all the help we received. And now that we’re about to be published, it’s pretty exciting.”