In Search of Accounting Stars

“Keep calm and love accounting.” That’s the mantra hanging on Professor of Accounting Practice MaryAnn Monforte’s office door. She believes accounting is fun, despite how challenging it can be to undergraduates exposed to its principles for the first time. Monforte teaches the Introduction to Accounting course that all Whitman School majors and accounting/finance minors are required to take.

“My role is to teach them the fundamentals and let them go out into the world understanding financial statements at an introductory level,” she said. “But, often I have students who, despite their aptitude for the subject, don’t understand what accounting is all about; in fact, many of them had never even thought of majoring in it!”

She told the story of four female students who were stellar students. She asked them what they were planning to major in, and they didn’t know; none cited accounting as an option, even though they were skilled at it.

“Accounting is the best way to start your career from a business perspective,” Monforte said. “Employers love the CPA. Professionals with a CPA can try corporate finance, strategic planning and marketing.”

With this in mind, Monforte set out on a mission. Her goal? To seek out the best students in her class and show them all the places you can go with accounting. It started out with simple classroom visits from representatives from the Big 4 accounting firms. It quickly morphed into what’s now known as the Accounting Stars Program.

Through a series of events each semester, Monforte invites companies, such as PwC, EY, KPMG, Deloitte and other professionals, to share not only their experiences and opportunities, but also their knowledge and network. In fall of 2018, students were treated to everything from a panel discussion to a networking event at Faegan’s to a Spin class! The events are invitation only. “I hand pick the students I feel have the most potential for and interest in accounting. I tell them ‘you’re on my stars list!’” said Monforte.

So far this semester, 58 stars have been invited to participate in the events, and the results are phenomenal. The number of declared accounting majors is at its highest percentage ever.

“Professor Monforte’s Accounting Stars Program provided me with the opportunity to attend events hosted by the Big 4 firms that I otherwise would neither have known about nor attended had I known about,” said Allen Bailey, ’21. “It was through that program that I was encouraged to learn more about the careers available in accounting at those firms and to network with professionals at that firm. I was able to hear their stories of why they chose accounting, what they love about their jobs, and tips to use to determine if a career in accounting is right for me. Best of all, this was all available to me as a freshman. As a result, I was able to make an informed decision about one major that I wanted to declare because I liked what I learned about a potential career in accounting.”

“I enjoy working with the students, mentoring and helping them explore the world of accounting,” said Monforte. “Accounting isn’t for everyone but it’s worth taking a look.”

If you are interested in helping with the Accounting Stars Program, contact MaryAnn Monforte at