Black students at Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics met virtually on Jan. 27 to discuss the formation of an on-campus chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). The first of its kind in Orange County, the chapter will provide tools for Black business Titans to develop personally and professionally and maximize their career readiness.
Focused on accounting as a profession, the organization is open to all business students, with a mission vital to uplifting one of the most underrepresented demographic groups on campus and in the Orange County business community.
“Black students on our campus are underrepresented in the classroom, and there is a sense of isolation that can occur. We want those students to know that we have a community dedicated to supporting one another during our journey through the business college,” says Jehu Jogwe ’21 (accounting), acting president of the new organization.
“We’d have a lot of hope in Black students knowing that we can be the future business leaders of Orange County. We have diverse experiences, hardships and knowledge that we can leverage to create the future of diversity, equity and inclusivity at CSUF and specifically be able to find some commonality and connections with one another that are very meaningful.”
The parent NABA organization was established in New York City in December 1969, when there were only 136 Black certified public accountants in the U.S. Today’s NABA has more than 200,000 members, and establishing a chapter on campus at Cal State Fullerton helps to solidify the university’s commitment to empowering the diversity of its student body and providing pathways to achievement.
A Summer of Injustice and a Las Vegas Conference Give Birth to the CSUF Chapter
Jogwe, a transfer student from Orange Coast College and a part of the 100 Black Men of Orange County organization since his high school days, first saw the vision for a CSUF chapter of NABA when attending a NABA national convention in Las Vegas in early 2019.
More than a year later, following high-profile incidents of police brutality against African Americans, including the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor tragedies, Kelli Shimizu, an audit accountant recruiter at Deloitte, reached out to Jogwe and some like-minded Titans, supporting the creation of an on-campus chapter.
“Our realization was to make community around getting representation, especially in the business field, where there are only about 140 Black business students at CSUF,” says Jogwe. “And considering the small size of the on-campus community, we wanted to reach out beyond CSUF to broader Orange County as well.”
Working with the CSUF Black Student Union, Jogwe talked to Black business students individually, letting them know of his plans for an organization to build solidarity and unity in light of current injustices.
Today, Jogwe is the CSUF chapter’s first president, though the club’s leadership is likely to pass to the current vice president, Jeremiah Riggins ’23 (accounting and finance), considering Jogwe’s approaching graduation.
Regardless of who is at the helm, Jogwe says the goals of the CSUF NABA chapter are steadfast: expanding the representation of Black business students at CSUF and in their professional futures. “We aspire to continue lifting other members in our community and supporters of our community through professional workshops for networking and résumé building, and also volunteering our time to some of the younger high school students going into college, sourcing some seniors who can continue this legacy in CSUF and Orange County.”
As Jogwe looks ahead to a post-graduation future as a CPA in real estate, fintech, or the environmental, social and governance (ESG) market, he sees his work in founding the CSUF NABA chapter as part of his personal legacy.
“I’m hoping that this experience creating this organization on campus will create a network that I can always tap into and give back to as I go into a career. I always see myself reaching back to the places that I come from, whether my hometown of Costa Mesa, the students and professors I had at Orange Coast College, or my Titan family.”
Anthony Chen, assistant professor of accounting and co-advisor to CSUF NABA, recognizes the unique importance that the organization provides to its members and the Titan community.
“Members of minority groups may not have access to the same resources as more highly represented groups. Being a member of NABA can help to fill that void by providing students of color the same networking, mentoring and other opportunities,” says Chen. “In addition, NABA provides numerous other benefits such as providing workshops for continuous learning and professional development. Students interested in joining the OC NABA chapter have much to gain and nothing to lose, especially since Deloitte is currently reimbursing members for their membership fees.”
Torrell Foree, coordinator of the African American Resource Center and the other co-advisor to NABA, says this of the organization’s impact and its future: “Black students on campus frequently find themselves underrepresented in the classroom. I often hear from students they are the only ones that look like them in their classes and struggle to find other Black students in their majors. Establishing an identity-conscious organization such as NABA now allows students who share racial and cultural identities to build community, gain access a professional network that expands beyond the campus, and begin to engage in career development and readiness both on and off campus. That’s dope! I’m sure this will have a tremendous impact on the College of Business and Economics in the immediate future.”
Chen encourages students of all ethnicities to consider accounting as a career path, not only for its income, advancement and flexibility benefits, but the ability of accountants to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
“An accountant’s job is essentially to help others, whether it be to ensure the integrity of financial information, minimize taxes or plan financial futures,” says Chen. “This notion of helping others permeates throughout the profession. Many CPAs were kind enough to provide me with professional guidance, and I want to help others by doing the same. In turn, I hope those that I help will continue to pave the way forward for future accountants. I know many accountants share the same ideal.”
Jogwe also sees business professions of all kinds as a way of empowering the Black community, at CSUF and nationwide.
“A degree in business will provide a backbone to express our creative thinking while solving complex problems going on in the world today, especially having opportunities to have financial literacy that will add value to our communities,” Jogwe says. “We hope these business students will bring back their knowledge to their family, friends and networks.”
For More Information
Reach out to NABA at OC.NABA21@gmail.com for more information.