Students in URI’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants pose for a photo at the Annual Minority Business Conference. Photo courtsey of NABA.

The University of Rhode Island’s student chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) took first, second and third place in this year’s Annual Minority Business Conference in Boston.

Dr. Alejandro Hazera, a URI professor, Vangermeersch Chair of Accounting and Accounting Area Coordinator who oversees and advises URI’s NABA chapter, said that he was not surprised with the competitions results.

“We have continuously placed high in the annual case competition,” Hazera said. “This has been based on our very dedicated students and faculty support.”

Before each conference, each chapter receives a case study two weeks prior to the competition. This gives teams time to research the company and question they are presented with and rehearse their answers and presentation. For the first time, Hazera was asked by NABA Boston to write the case study for this years conference. Hazera and Dr. Carmen Quirvan, the main case writer, wrote the case based on an actual multinational company, Bimbo, Inc.

The President of URI’s NABA chapter, senior Janikka Acosta, said that based on the company she and her four teams were assigned they had to decide on whether their client should invest in the company. The company and questions each chapter receives are very open ended and make the teams do research and support their answers with analysis and facts.

“In NABA we have students from all different majors which is great because we have people coming from all different aspects,” Acosta said.

After each conference presentation a career fair and many networking opportunities are provided for those who participated. Acosta said that many of these networking opportunities at the conference are held by URI NABA alumni.

Acosta became a member of NABA at the begining of her freshamn year and has since then held the position of Vice President and President for the past three years.

“What I really love about NABA is that they prepare you to get an internship and help you build your resume, making sure you’re prepared to interview through mock interviews and how to network,” Acosta said. “It’s really changed my college career. It’s pushed me to be a leader and I love being able to be a mentor to all the other members now since I’m a senior.”

Vice President of NABA URI, Adel Lopes, said that NABA has made her more comfortable with herself and has helped her develop her natural leadership instincts.

“This organization has provided me with so many opportunities to socialize and strengthen the qualities within myself,” Lopes states. “Due to the confidence I’ve received from this organization, I was able to obtain an internship with a big four company and build a foundation in the business world.”

Treasurer Jarell De Los Santos, said that NABA’s workshops hosted by firms have increased his professional and personal development. It has also helped him create a clear path in knowing what he wants to do after college in the accounting field.

“When these companies come in, you become a lot more familiar with not only their company culture but also see exactly what they are looking for from students,” De Los Santos said.

Michael Familia, NABA URI’s Public Relations Manager, said that this group has also shown him what he wants to do in the future.

“The opportunities for internships and participation in case studies are a great experience and an easy way to network with professionals in firms that work in the industry I aspire to work in,” Familia said.

Hazera said that being a part of URI’s NABA chapter has impacted him tremendously. When he came to URI 30 years ago, there were no organizations through the College of Business that were dedicated to helping individuals from groups underrepresented in business.

“I have seen how quickly these organizations have grown, mostly based on the talent and energy of their members,” Hazera said. “They promote diversity and enhance economic opportunity. I am very proud to have been a part of this change. I believe it speaks well to the commitment that URI and the College of Business have toward Diversity and Inclusion.”

Although NABA stands for National Association of Black Accountants, anyone is able to join the group. Acosta emphasized that NABA is welcoming to anyone interested and that it is aimed to be an inclusive and diverse business organization.

“We have people from everywhere,” Acosta said. “You don’t have to be black to be in our organization – everybody’s diverse and no one is the same which makes this group so great.”

Acosta said that although they are more geared towards business majors, students from outside the College of Business come to meetings in order to help them gain knowledge on internships, interviews and resumes.