Accounting student wins major scholarship from Congress-created oversight board

SUNY New Paltz student Heather Hallock ’18 (Accounting) of Eldred, New York, has been awarded the Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Scholarship, a $10,000, merit-based award meant to recognize high achievement and ethical standards in accounting and auditing programs.

Hallock is a recent transfer to New Paltz who, in just a short time here, has built the foundation for a promising career in accounting.

Helped in part by advisors in the School of Business and the required Internship and Career Practicum course, Hallock has worked as an intern at two local businesses, including her current position at Granite Associates, L.P., a start-up investment company based in Ferndale, New York.

“I mostly do staff accounting, payroll, bookkeeping, and other general tasks like that,” Hallock said. “That hands-on experience has been kind of priceless. You can’t really figure out how this profession works unless you’re in it, doing it, so that’s been a great experience.”

Hallock also made a strong connection with Business Lecturer Rief Kanan, her academic advisor at the College, who first told her about the unique PCAOB Scholarship program.

The Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board was established by Congress in 2002 to oversee the audits of public companies. It was created with a mandate to invest funds derived from fines and fees into educational programs, and its Scholarship Program is funded by monetary penalties it imposes on the companies and organizations it oversees.

As an added quirk, only the largest collegiate accounting programs in the country can nominate students for the Scholarship every year. Smaller programs, including the one at New Paltz, are invited to nominate a candidate only once every five years.

“We needed to have a very strong nominee, because it would likely be five years until the next invitation,” Kanan said. “As teachers, there are certain people we meet who, because of their communication skills and their refreshing thirst for learning and passion to succeed, we realize are on a path to success. Heather is such a person, and I decided that she had the best chance for success among a crowd of outstanding students. I cannot begin to describe the pride that I felt when I received notice that Heather had won the $10,000 award. She has represented our school beautifully.”

The PCAOB award is funded by penalties imposed for auditing violations, and so it makes sense that a condition of the prize is that eligible students must demonstrate a commitment to ethics in accounting. Hallock says in both the classroom and her internship, she takes this aspect of her profession seriously.

“People work so hard to build their businesses up, and they can’t have fraud being an issue with their own employees,” she said. “They hire you, place their trust in you, to do your most ethical work. At the end of the day, I know that my name is going on that work, so feel a personal responsibility for it.”

Hallock is preparing to graduate later this year, and says she may stay at New Paltz to earn an MBA and the 150 credits she’ll need to earn professional licensure as a CPA.

“If I do it anywhere, I’m gonna do it here,” she said. “It’s an easier transition, because I already know many of the professors, and I’m comfortable with this program and this area. The online classes are nice, too.”

Learn more online about the School of Business and the Master of Business Administration degree program at SUNY New Paltz.

Visit the Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board website to learn more about its work and the scholarships it supports.