In the spring of 2010, inspired by the Beta Alpha Psi/Ernst & Young Diversity Initiative competition, Catherine Smathers, along with other Beta Alpha Psi members, began to brainstorm ways in which they could make a difference. Through that process the concept of a student-led diversity group, the COB Student Diversity Council, emerged.
Although the proposal did not win the E&Y Diversity Initiative award, Catherine was unwilling to abandon the concept. Accordingly, she applied for the group’s recognition as an official COB organization, which was granted in the fall of 2010.
The COB Student Diversity Council (COB SDC) is the only student-led diversity group on campus.As stated in the group’s organizational proposal, the COB SDC seeks to “develop ways to increase and enhance diversity within the College of Business by planning events and programs that:
With Catherine serving as president, the COB SDC wasted no time in endeavoring to fulfill those objectives, organizing a council member discussion on diversity with Mr. Art Dean, Special Assistant to the President on Diversity, participating in the Take-a-Look Day, and co-hosting (with the accounting firm of Deloitte) a career launch workshop, all in its first semester. The council’s spring 2011 calendar looks equally ambitious, with plans to co-sponsor a speaker series featuring speakers from various companies, participate in a student panel during JMU’s annual Diversity Conference and organize an alumni panel presentation for April.
Not surprisingly, Catherine’s contagious enthusiasm and passion for the group’s mission have not gone unnoticed. Under Catherine’s leadership, the COB SDC has more than doubled in size; now boasting a membership of approximately fifty members. The council recently received an Innovative Diversity Enhancement Award (IDEA) grant to fund the group’s participation in the Pamplin Multicultural Diversity Council’s fifth annual Diversity Conference at VA Tech.
On January 27th, Catherine was the student recipient of JMU’s Diversity Enhancement Award, an honor bestowed on one student annually. Finally, in an ironic turn of events, on February 2nd, the group received $500 for their success in the first round of the 2011 Beta Alpha Psi/Ernst & Young Diversity Initiative competition, granting them the opportunity to compete in the finalists round.
Catherine will graduate in May with a BBA in accounting. She plans to continue working with the COB SDC, serving as the Alumni Representative to the council upon graduation. She will start her professional career this fall working in Ernst and Young’s audit department, where she hopes to become involved in its diversity programs.
This highlight was featured in the Fall 2010 Accounting Newsletter.