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Student and Alumni Success

MAC Community Embraces Student and Canine Companion

Man with a dog

By Jess Clarke

Like others in the Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) program lab and lounge area, student Cody Ellison’s companion, Nate, sometimes has snacks. A list on the wall names items Nate has eaten: someone’s paper nametag, a resume, Ellison’s insurance papers, remnants of a discarded lunch. 

That can happen when there’s another species on campus. 

“Nate sees it on the floor — and that’s his territory,” Ellison says of his seeing-eye dog, a 75-pound, black Labrador retriever that he’s on campus with every day. The unofficial MAC mascot has wagged his way into getting his photo on the MAC class T-shirt.   

Ellison’s time with Nate at NC State reflects something he appreciates most about the MAC program: “It’s one of the greatest communities,” he says. “I knew coming in there was a very good chance Nate would be way more popular than I would be…It has been a very bonding experience for both of us to go through the program.”  

Like Nate, Ellison has connected with MAC students, faculty and staff. “I’ve honestly found some of my best friends for life here,” he says. “When you’re going through something extreme and tough with other people, you just bond over it.” 

The academic rigor was one reason Ellison chose Poole’s program. 

“It boils down to gaining confidence in my accounting abilities,” he says. “With how hard this program is and how much they push you to the point where you’re learning, you overcome the challenges they give you. And you just come out stronger.”

Coming out stronger means he’s well-prepared for his career. And his firm-sponsored, tuition-paid Jenkins MAC fellowship includes a job already lined up, which he’ll begin in October with CliftonLarsonAllen. 

Ellison cites as particularly valuable a comprehensive audit class and his practicum, which focused on risk and internal control at a startup established by NC State students.

The accounting preparation he’s had is more impactful because of the supportive environment. 

He got help from NC State’s Disability Resource Office. And he met one-on-one with MAC Program Director Scott Showalter to discuss time extensions for tests, preferred classroom seating and other accommodations. 

Showalter “wanted to find out what exactly I needed. I was not used to having a professor who wanted to understand that,” Ellison says. 

He credits MAC professors in general with being accessible and responsive. “I like that I can go to class and call professors by their first names. You can talk to them about your day. Most usually ask how Nate’s doing,” he notes.

That’s part of the Jenkins MAC culture.

“I have been impressed with the manner in which students have accepted and supported Cody and Nate,” Showalter says. “Because of the amount of time students spend together in class, working as teams, interacting with faculty and attending social activities, we promote the MAC program as a family. They are there to help each other every day.”

Ellison’s human-oriented dog isn’t the only one of the pair who’s been networking. Ellison points to opportunities in classes to meet accounting professionals, including a representative of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. And people who work in tax and business strategy have discussed mergers and acquisitions.            

Just as valuable as meeting experts in the field is building relationships with classmates.

“I look around and see other students are very high level in what they want to do, really dedicated, really focused,” Ellison says. “You never know what that opens up in the future, in your career or their career.” 

Ellison is considering two career options. He may stay in public accounting for his career, with the goal to be a partner. Or he may teach on the college level, which he does weekly at Poole as a graduate assistant.  

“Coming to Poole is the best education decision I’ve made,” he says. “The amount I’m learning, the fact they got me a job, the people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve had have been really wonderful.” 

To learn more about the Jenkins MAC program at NC State’s Poole College of Management, click here.

This post was originally published in MAC Program.