Making an Impact on Campus
Nicole Barnes, an associate in DHG’s Memphis market is a beacon of innovation, determination and passion. While a student at The University of Mississippi, in the midst of pursuing an accounting degree, Nicole took it upon herself to start a chapter of the National Association of Black Accounts (NABA) on campus. Continue reading to hear how the idea came to fruition and how Nicole remains involved with NABA today.
Why did you decide to lead the charge in starting the NABA chapter at Ole Miss?
I first got the idea during my sophomore year. During orientation for the honors college they stressed the importance of finding a unique way to leave your mark on the university. I really gave that a lot of thought, but at first I was overwhelmed by being able to pursue that kind of accomplishment as a student at such a big school. As a sophomore, it all really started to make sense as I started accounting classes and noticed that there wasn’t much diversity in my classes. I didn’t know anything about NABA at the time, but when I Googled minority professional organizations, NABA was one of the first organizations that came up. After reading more about it, NABA seemed like a great fit for me and the school.
What were some of the challenges you faced in starting the chapter?
It was kind of a lengthy process. I talked to a mentor professor and she told me to share my idea with the Dean. I looked at retention and matriculation data for the entire university and the accounting school, organized by demographics, and I made a whole analysis to provide support as to why NABA was a necessity at the university. I presented all of my data to the Dean and told him this organization would help recruit students of color to the program and increase diversity among the school. He helped identify a faculty member who was interested in being the faculty advisor for the chapter. From there, I recruited a few other students to participate, and that’s how it all got started. One of those students was Kyerra Moody, who also works for DHG here in Memphis. We divided up executive positions (I was the Vice President at that time), and we reached out to the national office to start the process of getting our charter. I’m proud to say that the chapter is still thriving and doing well!
How did the experience help shape your career in accounting?
It was a great experience for me as a student leader. I naturally became the face of the chapter, so I had a lot of face time with the firms that would come to the school to recruit. They wanted to be involved with NABA for their own recruiting purposes. That’s how I got introduced to DHG. At the time I thought I wanted to work at a large national firm since I had interned at a larger firm, but several things with that experience, combined with DHG’s heavy involvement with NABA, pushed me in the direction of DHG. From the beginning, DHG was the most generous sponsor of the NABA organization at Ole Miss. They would always contribute financially, they provided key resources and they would come down for our meetings. To me, that meant a lot.
What are you most looking forward to about the NABA National Convention in June?
I’m looking forward to the overall experience. I’m excited to see people I’ve connected with in the past – people in other DHG offices and contacts I know from other firms. It will be kind of like a reunion. It’s definitely a privilege to be able to have this opportunity to represent the firm at the convention. Other people I know attending the conference will be representing their firms, but for them, it wasn’t a selection process like at DHG, where many people want to attend on behalf of the firm. At other firms, they’re just trying to get people to show up. For me, it feels more prestigious to be able to represent DHG.
What do you like to do for fun away from the office?
While I’m originally from the Memphis area, I’m enjoying rediscovering Memphis as a young professional. In my spare time, I serve as the chapter’s Technology Chair of my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I also enjoy hanging out with both new and old friends and I have a puppy, Samuel L. Jackson, (a Chihuahua/Corgi mix – he looks like a little Twinkie!) who keeps me busy.
Nicole Barnes is a first year Associate in the DHG Dealerships group in Memphis, TN. Outside of work, she enjoys playing piano, cooking, and spending time with her puppy, Sammy.