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USF accounting students participate in Great American Teach-In

Do get an internship. Don't post party pictures on Facebook. Don't skip class. Do figure out what motivates you.

USF Beta Alpha Psi students pass on knowledge to high school studetnts

That was some of the advice three USF Beta Alpha Psi students gave to Northeast High School seniors in teacher Elisa Petro's accounting classes about the accounting profession and the general transition from high school to college.

"Do you think accountants are just bean counters?" asked Sara van Spronsen, one of the USF accounting students. "You can say yes!"

Van Spronsen, along with John Tuy and Aaron Pennington, spent the morning of Nov. 21 at St. Petersburg's Northeast High as part of the Great American Teach-In, where community members spend time in schools sharing their career and life experiences with students. USF faculty, students, and staff participated in the Great American Teach-In in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, including College of Business Dean Moez Limayem.

The USF students told the teenagers that accounting was more than bean-counting; that in fact, it is a degree with a great amount of flexibility.

"You're getting a degree that's going to make you a legitimate business consultant," Pennington said.

Van Spronsen, Tuy, and Pennington brought diverse experiences to the classroom. Van Spronsen and Tuy went straight from high school to USF, while Pennington is a transfer student. At 30, he decided to go back to USF to earn a degree, after dropping out of UF years earlier.

"When you're young, you can make those mistakes and come back from it, but you don't want to have to do that," he told the high school students.

The USF accounting majors also discussed the excellence of USF's accounting program. Tuy said he chose USF over other schools he was accepted to because he knew the College of Business could help him make the connections he needed to succeed in Tampa.

Patty McMaster is a Northeast High School parent and is in government accounting compliance for Honeywell. She has spoken to Petro's classes in the past during the Great American Teach-In, but thought having USF students come in might be more relatable for the teenagers.

"I was thinking, it would be a lot better if I could find students a few years older than they are to come talk," she said.

"This is a very scary time for students, and they need this type of support," Petro said. "Sara and Aaron and John can say, 'We've run the gauntlet, and you can too.'"

Jasmina Bogilovic, a senior in Petro's accounting class, said she is torn between going into business and nursing, and found it helpful to hear from the USF students talk about their own struggles. She related especially to Tuy, who had thought he wanted to be a doctor before he took an anatomy class, realized he wasn't cut out for medicine, and made the switch to accounting.

"They gave us their personal experiences, that's what I liked," she said.