Veris CPA Trek takes students inside the Beltway

  • Inside the Beltway
    Inside the Beltway  Marc Halley, Rob Porter, Patrick Powers and Tommy Ribaric -- all from the MAcc class of 2011 -- stand before the White House.  
  • U.S. Treasury
    U.S. Treasury  Sean Kemple EMBA '03 speaks with MAcc students.  
  • SEC
    SEC  The Class of 2011 in the Securities and Exchange Commission's guest waiting room.  
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William & Mary Master of Accounting students got a first-hand look earlier this month at how the accounting principles they are learning in the classroom influence federal government policy.

Every fall, the entire MAcc class goes on the road with the Veris CPA Trek to cement the education they receive in the fall semester’s core course, Professional Accounting I and II. This year, the class focused on accounting issues in the public sector and three content-packed days in Washington, DC was the culmination of the semester’s work.

"The trip was a great opportunity to see how prevalent accounting is throughout the government," said MAcc student Elise Leslie (Baylor University 2010, WM MAcc 2011). "Not only were we able to visit the nation’s standard setting organizations, we were also able to discuss the influence of accounting and its effect on the development of governmental policies with individuals directly involved in the decision making process."

Representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Reserve, Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Treasury opened their doors and invited the entire class of 92 in to discuss some of the most pressing accounting issues at the interface of the public and private sectors  today, with topics ranging from IFRS convergence to TARP disbursements. Senator Mark Warner’s Chief Counsel, Jonathan Davidson, closed the trip by walking students through the long process involved with writing financial legislation.

"In class it is very easy to get caught up in debits and credits. The trip really gave me a chance to take a step back to get a perspective on the dynamic world of accounting that we are about to enter into. The speakers gave us some sense of the challenges that we will still have to tackle as professionals and how pertinent accounting issues are to both the business and political world. Each speaker was so phenomenal; the program really exposed us to the front lines of the current issues we see on the news every day as they relate to our future field," said Priscilla Pinckney (WM BBA 2010, MAcc 2011).

"I think there are certain things you can only learn about an organization by being within its walls," said Daniel Wilde (Brigham Young University 2010, WM MAcc 2011). "The Veris CPA trip is proof of that. Sitting where the Commissioners of the SEC make decisions and spending time in the boardroom for the Board of Governors illuminated me with a whole new light regarding our economy.”

"And hanging out in the Fed's board room with Mr. Bernanke next door was amazing," added Cora Widmayer (George Mason University 2008, WM MAcc 2011).

"Just being in such a 'Room of Power' gave me goosebumps!' laughed Shraddha Shridhar (University of Mumbai 2005, MAcc 2011). "The CPA trek really opened my eyes to non-traditional career opportunities in accounting," she added.

This is the seventh consecutive year the MAcc program has orchestrated the trip. The Trek has grown from an initial run of 20 students and two professors taking an Amtrak train to points North, to 92 students and six faculty and staff spread out over two tour buses. Plans for next year’s trip will begin early in the spring semester.

"We love the questions you all bring every year," Brian Degano, Associate Chief Auditor of the PCAOB said as he opened the floor to students’ questions this year. "You all really are the best and the brightest."

Veris Consulting, LLC ( and its Chairman, Larry Johnson, are pleased to provide corporate sponsorship of the Veris CPA Trek. Veris has a long standing tradition of recruiting the best and the brightest accounting students from W&M, and with this sponsorship, continues its commitment to William & Mary and the Mason School's next generation of accounting students and business leaders.