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Leventhal + Academy of Finance Introduce Local Youth to the World of Accounting

Leventhal + Academy of Finance Introduce Local Youth to the World of Accounting

With the Academy of Finance, Leventhal encourages local high school students to pursue accounting as a future career.

01.04.23
Color photo of students listening to a lecture in a classroom setting

Leventhal has long partnered with the Academy of Finance (AOF) to support high school students in preparation for college and careers in finance. [USC Photo]

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USC Leventhal has long been committed to educating local youth about accounting, while encouraging them to imagine their future at a top-ranked school like USC and a promising professional career.

Leventhal’s Summer Leadership Program (SLP), which brings underrepresented minority high school students to campus for an introduction to accounting and business fundamentals, the admissions process and accounting professionals, and the Leventhal Leadership Program (LLP), which brings community college students to campus, are two examples of that commitment.

For more than 20 years, Leventhal has also partnered with the Academy of Finance (AOF).The AOF is a national educational program that introduces high school students to accounting, international trade, leadership and technology and allows them to earn college credit in preparation for college and careers in the financial. Established by the National Foundation Academy, the program is offered in more than 260 schools nationwide.

USC Leventhal Professor Robert Trezevant started the affiliation with AOF and voluntarily ran the program for 16 years until he passed away in 2015.

Associate Professor of Accounting SHIING-WU WANG came onboard with Trezevant in 1999 and took over directorship of the AOF program in 2015. Now, he and AssociateProfessor of Clinical Accounting SMRITY RANDHAWA teach in the program.

The students, from high schools near the USC campus, are typically seeking to become first-generation college students.

“This is a group of very motivated kids,” said Wang, who has been honored with four teaching awards at USC. “Sometimes, they don’t even have complete information about their future and what they can do, how they can achieve their full potential. They come to our school to learn, and we offer a scholarship to those who apply. This opportunity opens a brand-new world for them, to come to a top ranked school and achieve their full potential.”

Students take an undergraduate Marshall School of Business course for free, with the credits transferable in their senior year of high school. The class has two components: personal financial planning, taught by Wang, and basic accounting, taught by Randhawa.

The professional development portion of the program is extensive. The director of Marshall Admissions counsels students on the college admissions process, and the director of Undergraduate Studies gives instruction in writing and interviewing skills. In addition, Leventhal invites accounting professionals, who are also Leventhal alumni, to speak to the students.

While I already had the idea of pursuing a job in the business field. The Academy helped me strengthen my choice and decide on accounting as my major. I believe a career in accounting offers stability work wise, which is something I value for my future.

— Kimberly Cordova

High school student at Foshay Learning Center

Motivated Students, Faculty and Alumni

In Fall 2022, 36 students from two high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District came to campus. In the past, there have been as many as 150. Participation has been curtailed due to budget cuts within the local school district. But Leventhal has stepped up to aid in funding.

“We offer our time as a service voluntarily,” Wang said. “We also provide funding to support the program. For example, Dean Holder has been very generous helping to provide transportation and other out-of-pocket costs for the students.”

Over the years, many AOF students have applied to and attended USC — like Crista Lopez ’14, MAcc’15 who returns to campus to talk with current AOF students about her experiences with the Academy, Leventhal and KPMG, where she has worked for more than seven years and is now audit senior manager.

Kimberly Cordova was on campus this fall for the program. She attends high school at Foshay Learning Center and will graduate in 2023. “While I already had the idea of pursuing a job in the business field,” she said, “the Academy helped me strengthen my choice and decide on accounting as my major. I believe a career in accounting offers stability work wise, which is something I value for my future.”

She said her favorite part of the program at USC was the professors and guest speakers. “The professors were very patient and understanding with us, making sure to thoroughly explain everything so that none of us would be confused. It built an encouraging and enjoyable environment to be in. The guest speakers were useful in providing insight into both USC and the professional field.”

Thanks to the AOF, Cordova has her sights set on attending USC Leventhal. “The resources and community at USC are exceptional, and I would love to take part in them myself.”