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National Government Association Taps MC Accounting Majors for Leadership Program

Accounting and finance majors Kaitlyn Dortch, left, and Kaylee Foster will have the opportunity to engage with and learn from government financial management leaders in the National Collegiate Leadership Program.
Accounting and finance majors Kaitlyn Dortch, left, and Kaylee Foster will have the opportunity to engage with and learn from government financial management leaders in the National Collegiate Leadership Program.

One of the nation’s leading professional governmental societies has chosen a pair of Mississippi College accounting and finance double majors to participate in a prestigious leadership program.

The Association of Government Accountants has selected Kaitlyn Dortch, a senior from Canton, and Kaylee Foster, a junior from Ocean Springs, for its National Collegiate Leadership Program.

They are among only 10 scholars nationwide to be designated for the scholarship program that provides students the opportunity to engage with and learn from leaders in government financial management at the AGA’s annual National Leadership Training event Feb. 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Billy Morehead, professor of accountancy at MC, said since the NCLP’s inception eight years ago, at least one student from MC has been selected for the program each year – a distinction no other higher education institution in the nation can match.

“MC has a strong accounting program, and the selection of our top students for the NCLP recognizes our great students,” Morehead said. “Every MC student selected has had at least a 3.85 GPA as an accounting major. This speaks well for our students and our accounting program.

“This opportunity to be selected to the NCLP allows students to connect with leaders across government, such as state auditors, federal CFOs, inspectors general, and even the comptroller of the United States. It’s really a big deal!”

He said Dortch and Foster were outstanding candidates for the program.

“They are both very deserving,” Morehead said. “Both have excelled academically, with each having strong GPAs, and both are extremely active across campus.

“They will have opportunities to see that careers in government can be very exciting and cutting-edge. And they will likely be asked to consider career opportunities in government – many federal agencies and large CPA firms try to recruit these scholars.”

Dortch said the program provides an opportunity to improve her leadership skills in a way that is most appropriate for her fields of study.

“Being selected gave me a much-needed boost of confidence as well as a new appreciation for organizations like Mississippi College and AGA,” Dortch said. “They have consistently provided opportunities for students to effectively transition into the professional world.

“Being among those students makes me feel special and inspires me to continue pursuing my career goals.”

Dortch said she hopes to network with professionals who can help her refine her leadership skills and provide guidance on how to navigate a career in accounting and finance.

“The start of students’ careers is a critical time in their lives and can be quite intimidating,” she said. “Programs provided by organizations like AGA give students an adequate introduction into this work environment. They also offer opportunities to meet and form new connections that could turn into future business relationships.

“Students will be better off in their careers by taking advantage of programs like the National Collegiate Leadership Program.”

Foster said the program is a great way to connect with and learn from more experienced accountants.

“While attending the National Leadership Training, I hope to learn more about governmental accounting – what it looks like, how decisions are made, etc.,” Foster said. “Being selected as a participant in this program is a huge honor for me. I am thrilled to be selected and cannot wait to learn from some of the best.”

She said it’s important for MC students to become involved in organizations like the AGA “so they have the opportunities to make connections and learn from those who are more experienced and possibly have different viewpoints.

“I believe that making these connections and learning what they have to offer is a great way to grow.”

Both students have built well-rounded resumes that impressed the NCLP selection committee.

A member of the Student Advisory Board, the Investment Fund, the Women in Business Executive Council, and the Accounting Society, Dortch is business manager of the Service Club and the School of Business’s representative for the Student Government Association. She received the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants Scholarship and the Outstanding Junior in Finance Award. During the holidays, she volunteered at the Salvation Army to help feed the elderly, disabled, and homeless communities in Jackson.

After graduation, Dortch plans to pursue her M.B.A. while working toward her C.P.A. license. She aspires to work in auditing and/or tax, and in business valuations.

President of the Accounting Society and a member of the Women in Business and the Business Service Club’s leadership teams, Foster plays on the MC soccer team. A dean’s assistant in the School of Business, she has served on the Judicial Council. Last summer, she interned with the Department of Justice, working with one of its forensic accountants.

After graduation, Foster plans to pursue her M.B.A. She aspires to work full-time with the Department of Justice.

Morehead has seen firsthand how the AGA’s programs can benefit Mississippi College students. A member of the AGA since shortly after starting his career in state government, he has served the local chapter in various roles, including president, before advancing to the national organization as treasurer and, later, president. Having chaired the AGA’s Journal Editorial Board and its Higher Education Committee, he remains very involved at the national level.

“I am passionate about making sure students are aware of the employment opportunities available in the local, state, and federal governments,” he said.

According to its website, the AGA is the association for professionals that support government at all levels, academia, non-profits, and industry, and seeks to help government work more efficiently and effectively in financial management, accounting, auditing, information technology, budgeting, policy, grants management, performance management, and other business operations areas.

Made up of more than 14,000 members, the AGA is committed to increasing government accountability and transparency and has been instrumental in helping develop accounting and auditing standards and in generating new concepts for the effective organization and administration of government financial management.