Writer: Justin Bannister, (575) 646-5981, firstname.lastname@example.org
Focusing on midterms, class projects and the occasional part-time job is enough to max out the schedule of any typical college student, but that isn't the case for students in New Mexico State University's Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA). The group regularly handles coursework while organizing community service projects, out-of-state case competitions and meeting with professionals.
"For me, interacting with professionals in my field is my favorite part," said Diana Telles, a graduate student and president of the NMSU Student Chapter of ALPFA for the last two years. "This organization brings professionals and students together, where students can receive mentorship. That's incredibly valuable."
ALPFA is unique because the student chapters are organized with professional chapters. It was founded in 1972 by a group of accounting professionals who wanted to provide mentorship to students making the transition from college into their professional careers. ALPFA was established at NMSU in 2005 under the El Paso Professional Chapter. Its primary mission is to create opportunities, add value and build relationships for its members. While the group has "Latino" in its name, being Hispanic is not required for membership. Telles said ALPFA welcomes the involvement of all who share its core values and commitment to community service and providing opportunities and mentorship for its members.
Its first semester the NMSU Student Chapter had just eight members. Today it has more than 35 active members who participate in numerous community service projects, including raising money for the El Caldito Soup Kitchen; participating in "The Big Event," an Associated Students of NMSU activity to reach out to the community to provide volunteer work; and organizing the Fall Mid-Term Bash, an event to help students in the NMSU College of Business come together through student organizations.
"I am very excited about the opportunities that ALPFA provides our student members," said Bill Smith, an assistant professor in accounting and the NMSU ALPFA co-faculty adviser. He and Maria De Boyrie originally helped establish the ALPFA Student Chapter. "Thanks to Luis Avila, our first president, and now Diana Telles, we have really taken our chapter to the next level as a recognized student organization."
The group regularly brings professional speakers to talk with students at their meetings. These speakers provide guidance and professional development in a variety of topics that include technical presentations, the importance of networking, getting a foot in the door at a company and time management.
Nationally, ALPFA holds an annual convention where professional and student members throughout the U.S. meet. At the convention, the accounting firm KPMG sponsors an intensive case competition where students from selected universities compete on a national level to present their technical findings of actual companies. Only 25 universities are invited to compete. Some of the past invited universities include Arizona State University, the University of Texas at Austin, Rutgers, the University of Massachusetts, University of California at Berkeley and New Mexico State University. Because of its past performance, an NMSU team has been invited the last two years and will be competing again this August at the national convention in Boston.
"The student team members have performed at a professional level that is truly outstanding. Their dedication and commitment to the team has put NMSU in the spotlight. I am very proud of their accomplishments, and I look forward to another outstanding performance this year in Boston," Smith said. "I have no doubt these students will be very successful in their future professional careers."
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