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Jenkins MAC Program News

Faculty Spotlight: Christina Lewellen

Christina Lewellen

What inspired you to pursue a career in accounting and academia?

I met my husband when I was 15 years old. At that time, I hadn’t really put too much thought into what I wanted to do professionally. He encouraged me to pursue a business degree and career because it offered so many career options. I took my first accounting class, and it really clicked, so I decided to major in accounting and took a job in public accounting. I began considering a career as a professor while working as a graduate assistant during my master’s of accounting program at East Carolina, where I became exposed to teaching, research and student mentorship. I saw my professors’ passion for their work and teaching, and I thought, “Wow, this professor thing seems like a great gig.” My accounting professors at East Carolina were great mentors to me, and their guidance helped solidify my decision to leave the profession and pursue a PhD after working in public accounting for five years. While I loved accounting, I knew my true calling was working with students.

Share a memorable teaching moment or experience that significantly impacted one or more students.

It is hard for me to narrow it down to one or even a couple of memorable moments. To me, teaching is a collection of seemingly small moments, such as a class, a course, or informal discussions with students outside of class, and it’s pretty ironic how these small moments can have big impacts and can ultimately affect the trajectory of a student’s career or life. I witness the “light bulb” going on and students’ sense of accomplishment in their mastery of skills and class materials over each semester.  I have also witnessed the “big” impacts over the years as students send me emails or thank you notes telling me how my class or conversations inspired their major choice or career path choice. I am humbled to have these opportunities to help shape students’ careers and lives.

How do you stay current in your field and bring that knowledge into the classroom?

In addition to teaching, I also research the topics I teach. This research allows me to constantly learn about tax laws and how businesses are approaching tax laws. One of my most recent academic publications investigated how companies could reduce their tax burdens related to new laws that target offshore income shifting. I frequently have students read excerpts from my research to help them understand how the material we learn in class is relevant in the real world and to business professionals. I also frequently author or co-author Poole Through Leadership articles, which are shorter articles on current events that are relevant to tax. I frequently co-author articles with Nathan Goldman, who is another tax professor in our department. We have co-authored a number of articles over the years on “hot” topics such as Bitcoin and recent tax law changes for sports betting in N.C., among many others. These articles help me stay current on the constantly evolving tax landscape and how it affects individuals and businesses.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a career in accounting?

Accounting is such a great path for a major and/or career. I chose to major in accounting not because I knew I wanted to be an accountant (I had no idea at the time), but because I knew the degree would provide so many options for career paths. The career opportunities with an accounting degree are limitless within and beyond the accounting industry because technical knowledge offers a competitive advantage. However, limitless options can sometimes be daunting for students when deciding on their career path. Students often come to me for advice on choosing an area of specialization or their first job. One of my accounting professors at ECU, who was a great mentor to me, once told me that when you look back on your life, you can often see how there was a plan for you, even when you could not see it at the time. That advice has been accurate and helped me through many decisions and times when the path wasn’t clear. I often tell students this same thing. You must have faith and trust your gut in each decision you make, and your path will reveal itself. 

Outside of teaching and research, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

My main hobby is enjoying time with my little family, including my husband of 17 years, a 13-year-old cat, and 2 and 4-year-old little girls. We enjoy traveling to the beach and the mountains, swimming in the pool, and hanging out with friends (most of whom also spend most of their time chasing little kids, too!). The kids are constantly keeping us on our toes, making us laugh, and teaching us what the important things in life are. I also enjoy doing yoga to help me keep my calm and focus when I can find the time to fit it in.

This post was originally published in MAC Program.