From the Field to the Firm
By Ashley Rabinovitch
Having recently graduated from Shaw University, where they were football teammates and fellow students of business and accounting, Asaad Shaw (MAC ’22) and Jaleel Scroggins (MAC ’22) bring a strong commitment to learning to the Jenkins Master of Accounting Program at NC State University.
As they look forward to beginning their master’s program, both students point to childhood experiences that set the stage for their future careers. “One of my aunts is an accountant, and growing up, I was fascinated by the idea of helping other people manage their money,” Shaw remembers. “As I got older, I found that I really enjoyed helping my mom with our family budgets and investments.”
Scroggins also had several family members with accounting backgrounds, which he says lit a spark in him to pursue the subject. “My family liked to call me the ‘human calculator,’ he says. “Anytime they had a tricky math problem or a question with finances, I’d complete the calculation in my head. But throughout my education, I’ve found that accounting is about so much more than mathematics. It teaches you key lessons in critical thinking and honesty that translate into every other aspect of life.”
A Balancing Act
As student athletes, Shaw and Scroggins faced unique challenges as they pursued excellence both on the field and in the classroom. “It wasn’t easy maintaining a solid GPA while giving so many hours to football,” Scroggins acknowledges. He remembers a time when the team had to leave for an away game a day earlier than expected. Scroggins was completing a group project for one of his accounting classes, and the group had already planned to meet during the time he’d be on the bus.
“I still remember that feeling of being on the road, trying to mentally prepare for the game while actively contributing to my accounting project,” says Scroggins. “Fortunately, my teammates were understanding and remained quiet on the bus ride so I could call in over Zoom. Through all these types of challenges, I’m proud that I persevered with the support of my friends and family.”
Similarly, the experience of being a student athlete played a central role in Shaw’s personal and professional development. “Playing football isn’t just about football,” he says. “It’s an exercise in self-discipline, balance and time management. Now that I’m stepping away from football to pursue my MAC, I have the opportunity to apply those lessons in a new context.”
Scroggins and Shaw can identify clear parallels between football and accounting. “Attention to detail is crucial on the field, from understanding the nuances of a play to being in-tune with what our teammates are doing,” Scroggins notes. “That ability to focus and handle many moving parts at once is also essential in accounting. If you make one wrong calculation, there can be major consequences.”
Shaw points out that both football and accounting rely heavily on teamwork. “Whether working on the field or in a firm, you’re constantly adapting to the actions of those around you,” he says. “In both contexts, you have to learn how to integrate different perspectives into a cohesive course of action so that your team can achieve its goals.”
Building a Brighter Future
As they take the next step in their professional journey, Scroggins and Shaw look forward to supporting the local community. “I want to meet as many people as I can, especially as I work toward my dream of becoming a private accountant with my own firm,” Asaad says. Eventually, he plans to combine his love of adventure with accounting, traveling around the world to help companies manage their financial needs.
Scroggins also strives to be attentive to the people around him, especially as he settles into a new academic environment. “I’m always asking questions, and I want to make sure I keep that curiosity alive throughout my time in the MAC program,” he shares. “Our interactions in the classroom with professors is a starting point for me and my peers to continue learning on our own and then using that knowledge to help the people around us. It’s important to stay curious. That’s when the learning happens.”