Pandemic, accounting class help change course of outstanding undergraduate student

Contact: Lisa Sollieyoung white male stands in front of a stock ticker

MERIDIAN, Miss.— Clarke County resident Nathan Smith had his life all planned out until the pandemic and an accounting class at Jones College altered his future career path. That change proved fortuitous for Smith, recently selected Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the Division of Business at Mississippi State University-Meridian.

“In high school I wanted to teach history, but by the end of my third semester at JC, I was questioning my decision. My roommate was an accounting major,” Smith said, “and knew I was struggling. He shared what he was studying in his classes and I thought it looked interesting, he suggested I take Accounting I and check it out.”

 A few months later the pandemic hit, and Smith had to complete the rest of the semester online. He graduated from JC in the spring of 2020.

“I really enjoyed the accounting class, and I did well in it,” he said. “As things heated up with the pandemic, I decided not only to change my major, but my plans to attend a 4-year university to complete my degree. I didn’t want to stop going to school, but neither was I interested in wasting my money on a college experience I wasn’t going to have.”

As he researched his options, his mom, an MSU-Meridian alumna, suggested he check out the Meridian campus.

“I spoke with advisor, Candy Adams, and she explained there were some business prerequisites I needed to take before I could transfer to MSU-Meridian,” Smith said. “I panicked because I wasn’t sure I was going to get everything done in time. She helped me get admitted and registered at Meridian Community College for the classes I needed that fall, so I could transfer to the Meridian campus in the spring.”

 Although Smith admits he had a few lingering doubts about the changes he made during the height of the pandemic, looking back he is confident he made the right decisions for his future.

“Everything was upside down that spring, and I may have naively decided to change my major based on one class, but I discovered a natural affinity for accounting that has only grown since I have been at Mississippi State.”  

He also discovered other benefits and blessings while attending the Meridian campus that he never expected.

“Some may only see the things you miss out on by choosing a small campus like MSU-Meridian—traditional college experiences you won’t find here,” he noted. “For me, living at home meant I got to spend time with my family and my little brother and the opportunity to play drums again. I was in the band at Enterprise High school, and I missed it. I’m one of the drummers at Northcrest Baptist Church, and I love being involved in the music program there. Ultimately, investing in my family and church has not only benefitted me, but others as well.”

Smith is now ready to graduate and has a few interviews lined up in the area.

“My interest is managerial accounting because I find it fascinating that when you understand and know what to look for, you can see at the most basic level what’s happening within each department of a business at any given time and, by doing so, you can help make sound decisions not only for a company’s bottom line, but it’s future growth.”
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