Faculty Profile: Meet Debbie Stephen, Accounting Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Throughout her career, Visiting Assistant Professor of Accounting Debbie Stephen, MBA, CPA, has served in the roles of general practice supervisor, corporate accountant, staff assistant to the controller, president/controller and accounting teacher. She earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Kansas State University and a Master of Business Administration degree with a specialization in accounting from West Virginia University.
Why did you choose to teach at Point Park?
I chose to teach at Point Park because it is very student-centered and fits right in line with how I see my role as an educator. Also, the faculty members here are outstanding and really focused on student achievement.
What classes do you currently teach?
- Accounting 101 (three sections)
- Management Accounting 203
How would you describe your teaching style?
Accounting is a subject area that requires diligence and preparation; regular class attendance and thorough completion of homework is a must. However, I encourage discussion and interaction in every class. This is key in helping the students understand accounting in more than theoretical terms. Many times, the most remembered lessons result from spirited discussions that require us to think outside of the box and apply what we are learning to real world issues. This is what makes accounting exciting!
How do you incorporate your years of working in the accounting field into the classes you teach?
I believe that in order to be successful in the workplace, a student must be strong both academically and in real world business situations. My goal is to pass along my experiences in corporate, small business and public accounting so that my students are superbly prepared when they enter the work force. Additionally, my practical experience will bring a new dimension to my role as an advisor to my accounting students.
What is the accounting job market like?
Accounting is one of the fastest growing job markets, partly because of the financial troubles affecting our country in the past decade or so. We all remember Enron, right? New rules for increased scrutiny of companies' financial information is one reason why the need for accountants is increasing. Right out of college, an accountant may receive a salary in the $50,000 range which is a great entry-level starting point. In addition, some public accounting companies offer a significant bonus when the CPA exam is passed. Whether it is a corporate, government, nonprofit, education or healthcare entity, everybody needs an accountant.
What advice do you have for prospective students considering a career in accounting?
The main complaint I hear from students thinking about accounting is that "I am not good at math; I cannot be an accountant!" Accounting is about much more than math so don't be afraid. In fact, accounting is more like solving a big puzzle. We look at the facts and put the puzzle pieces together so everyone sees the entire picture at the end. Once a student has made the decision to major in accounting, my second piece of advice is to earn your CPA license. Although a great deal of hard work and study is involved in earning a CPA license, it is amazing how much those three little letters will do for your career and future earning power.
Photo by Matthew Brudnok, photojournalism major