MAcc graduate leverages mentorship, scholarship opportunities for success
When a high school friend asked Justin Coleman to visit the University of Kansas with him, the O’Fallon, Illinois, native didn’t know the opportunities that would soon come his way.
Starting his journey at KU in 2018, Coleman double-majored in accounting and sport management with a minor in international business, though he would eventually only continue with his degree in accounting. He quickly became involved with the school through KU’s Multicultural Business Scholars Program (MBSP) and became a United Negro College Fund (UNCF)/Koch Scholar. Through these programs, Coleman had a foundation to build his career and discover his interests.
“MBSP was the main reason I came to KU,” Coleman said. “The program gave me a path to decide where I wanted to take my career. The mentoring, career fairs and everything else it offers builds you up and find your path. Being a UNCF/Koch Scholar also gave me an avenue and knowledge to tap into and have a network to fall back on.”
As a UNCF/Koch Scholar, Coleman had another avenue to continue expanding his business knowledge, networks and experiences. The program provides scholarships, academic support, mentorship and more to Black undergraduate students from all over the U.S. It focuses on entrepreneurship, economics and innovation to teach its scholars financial literacy, how to start a business and more. Students also attend a yearly summit in Washington, D.C. However, Coleman only attended a few because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coleman joined the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program after earning his bachelor’s in accounting in 2021. The MAcc professors and classes have stuck with Coleman even after graduating in spring 2023. One class was Lana Scroggin’s ACCT 895 Graduate Seminar in Accounting: Managing Workplace DEIB.
“ACCT 895 forced us to have bigger conversations about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) in the professional world. It’s also a subject matter that’s very close to my heart, and it taught me how to move through the workplace as a minority while shining a light on how DEIB is great for business and the way forward for business.”
The MAcc program and the School of Business had an impact on Coleman and his academic and professional journey. Through his mentors, like Rachel Green, lecturer and associate director of the MAcc program, and Steven Johnson Jr., assistant dean of DEIB, Coleman had many resources to ensure that he was successful in the school.
Today, Coleman is studying for the CPA exam and will start at EY in St. Louis this September, where he will work as an audit staff. With the shorter spring semester for MAcc students, Coleman was able to begin studying for the CPA exam and have more resources.
When he isn’t studying for the CPA, the avid soccer fan supports his hometown club, St. Louis City SC, English soccer team Arsenal and German team Bayern Munich. He also enjoys supporting the Boston Celtics and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He hopes to someday combine his love of business and sports and work as a team’s CFO or comptroller.
As he prepares to enter the workforce, Coleman’s advice for new MAcc students is to take advantage of the connections around the School of Business and KU.
“Get to know your professors as early as possible,” Coleman said. “I met with my mentor every semester. She got to know me and could speak for me. That can give you a leg up. Once you get to know them, they become more than a professor. You’ll build connections that will last for a lifetime, not just as a MAcc student, but by being part of the KU community. It’s a great place to learn and grow.”