Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, recently asked Allison Herskovitz ‘18 to discuss how being a part of the SMITH JOURNEY has helped her find her passion and provided the opportunities to pursue it. Allison is majoring in accounting and is this year’s Fiscal Director of Terp Thon.
What does the SMITH JOURNEY entail? Involvement with colleagues, professors, professionals, clubs and organizations here at the Smith School, across campus and in the outside “real” world of business. Here is what students are challenged to do in each of their four years at Smith:
Freshmen: “Build Your Brand” through the SmithStart program.
Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path” to success by focusing on an overall academic and career strategy.
Juniors: “Command Your Career” to ensure that you are well-positioned for your professional journey.
Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience” with an arsenal of tools, knowledge and networks so that you can embrace your experience and celebrate your success.
Dean Mullins: What is important to you? What motivates you? What is your passion? Why?
Allison: I love helping people and watching them grow. I recognize that I cannot be the best at everything, so instead I aim to motivate others to reach their full potential. While I may never become an Olympic gold medalist or an award-winning singer, I can help inspire people to accomplish those feats and have the opportunities to do so. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend such a prestigious business school, and I want to use what I have learned here to help others grow and discover their passions.
Dean Mullins: When and how were you able to identify this passion?
Allison: Throughout high school and the beginning of college, I was a camp counselor. Aside from having a lot of fun, being a counselor made me a role model to young girls and allowed me to have a positive impact on them for years to come. It was so special to watch a camper come out of her shell and conquer her fear of swimming or learn to play a new sport because I motivated her to believe in herself and try.
Now that I am a teaching assistant with the Accounting Teaching Scholars (ATS) program, I am still able to help students grow and motivate them to succeed. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a student gain confidence in themselves after they begin to grasp a difficult concept. I love being able to help these students get to that level of understanding, and I hope to inspire them to enjoy accounting as much as I do.
Dean Mullins: How have you been able to connect your passion with coursework, involvements and/or activities?
Allison: Accounting and critical thinking can truly be applied to anything, especially to helping and motivating people. I always look for ways to connect my skills to the betterment of organizations and people. I served as my sorority’s financial vice president and helped to teach my sisters about budgeting and fiscal responsibility during my term. Later, I went on to serve as the finance chair and currently as the fiscal director for the largest student-run philanthropy in the state of Maryland, Terp Thon. Terp Thon works year-round to raise funds and awareness for the Children’s National Health System, our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Last year, Terp Thon become the youngest Dance Marathon to raise more than $1 million. Through the budgeting and forecasting skills I have been exposed to at the Smith School, I am able to think critically through decisions that allow our organization to continue to grow sustainably to further ensure that every kid has the chance to be a kid. Not only has my work on the Executive Board helped us to ensure that no child is ever turned away from lifesaving care because of an inability to pay, but we are also able to inspire the rest of campus to join our movement.
Dean Mullins: What are the highlights of your Smith Journey thus far?
Allison: Participating in the Innovo Scholars Consulting Program and the Accounting Teaching Scholars program have been the highlights of my Smith Journey. Through both of these programs, I have been able to make an impact on the education of students who enter the Smith School. Through the Innovo Scholars Consulting Program, I worked with Dr. Basu to change the structure of Principles of Accounting I to improve learning outcomes. This class inspired me to major in accounting, so I was very happy to have the opportunity to make a mark on the course that could inspire other students to follow the same path I did. Today, I am still able to help and motivate students through the course as a teaching assistant.
Outside of my coursework, the Smith School has also introduced me to a great network of friends who challenge me to grow. I joined Phi Chi Theta, a business fraternity, during my sophomore year, and the brothers are incredibly supportive. They have always encouraged me to pursue my passions through Terp Thon and were great resources when I was choosing a career path.
Dean Mullins: What advice would you give to your fellow Smith peers and community?
Allison: Get to know your professors! I was a freshman when I took Principles of Accounting I, but I didn’t let the lecture setting intimidate me. I was interested in the material, so I went to Dr. Basu’s office hours one afternoon to talk about career opportunities in accounting and, from there, I chose to major in it and pursue externship opportunities. Dr. Basu has become an invaluable mentor to me, from helping with selecting classes to helping me review my resume before applying for jobs. He introduced me to the Innovo Scholars Consulting Program and the Accounting Teaching Scholars program, which have allowed me to make a tangible impact on the education of others.
Dean Mullins: Why are you passionate about the Smith School?
Allison: I am passionate about the Smith School because of all the opportunities it has given me. Had I not participated in the Innovo Scholars Consulting Program, I would not have had the confidence to apply to join Terp Thon’s Executive Board at the end of my sophomore year. Terp Thon has truly been my favorite college experience. It has allowed me to connect my passion for helping children with the accounting and analytics skills I learn in my classes. As I observed in the Innovo Scholars Consulting Program, people learn best when they apply the concepts to real-life situations. Through my work with the organization, I have been able to refine my leadership and accounting skills, which helped me greatly during my internship with Ernst & Young last summer. My work with Terp Thon has made me who I am today, and I am a much stronger student and person because of it.