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Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2024

Meet Jonas Clark, one of the 10 students selected for the 2024 Summer Research Fellowship. Jonas is a rising senior accounting and finance double major from Montgomery Village, Md. He and his faculty mentors, Keith Bittel ’95 and Jennifer Tuttle Waldo ’90, assistant professors of business, are spending their summer months examining the exposure of accounting to students in pre-secondary education institutions. This summer he is also working as a tax intern with Matthews International Corporation. A member of the men’s lacrosse team and a peer tutor with the Academic Success Center, Jonas is also active with the Westminster chapter of Habitat for Humanity and is a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.

Why did you apply for the summer research fellowship?
I applied because I wanted to help diversify the range of subjects that are researched in partnership with the Drinko Center and shed more light on the research happening in the School of Business.

Briefly describe your project.
Our project, “Comprehensive Research Initiative Aimed at Investigating the Pedagogical Approaches Used to Engage Students in Finance and Accounting Within
K-12 Education,” researches the exposure of accounting to students in pre-secondary education institutions. Specifically, we are examining if a relationship exists between early exposure to accounting and the pursuit of accounting as a college major by students. This research aims to provide insights into potential actionable steps to address the shortage of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

What have you learned from your collaboration with Professors Bittel and Waldo?
What kinds of insight and support do they contribute to your project? Professor Bittel and Professor Waldo are tremendous role models and mentors. They have been a huge help in developing research processes, providing exposure to different databases and resources and generally guiding our project. They have introduced me to various methodologies and assisted me in navigating the complexities of formal research. Their guidance and leadership have been invaluable in helping me develop the soft and hard skills needed to embark on this journey.

What aspects of research have been your favorite and most challenging?
My favorite part of the research process has been the opportunity to work with Professor Bittel and Professor Waldo. I am very fortunate to learn from these two highly successful and motivated professionals. I have also enjoyed speaking with various parties about the importance of accounting and encouraging young people to pursue the profession. The most challenging part of the research has been gathering data. The process for collecting primary data is tedious and time consuming, and lots of secondary data is not very accessible. I’ve enjoyed utilizing creativity and problem-solving skills to navigate these obstacles.

How do you think your work as a student researcher will shape your future student and career success?
This opportunity has provided a way to refine and develop skills that will contribute to my future success as a student and professional. Whether it’s the time management ability to balance a 40-hour work week with the responsibilities of this research or the skill of drawing meaningful interpretations from a large set of data, there are going to be many transferable skills that I learn from this experience. I also firmly believe that getting the experience of working with seasoned professionals will be invaluable to navigating the professional world.

What is your favorite thing about being a Westminster student?
My favorite thing about being a Westminster student is the relationships I’ve had the privilege of fostering along the way. The support system provided by faculty and peers alike is second-to-none. I will forever be thankful and appreciative of the wonderful people and minds I’ve gotten a chance to know as both colleagues and as friends.

What are your plans for the future?
My current plans are to take the CPA exam and pursue a career in accounting. My only goal is to have the same positive impact on the world that I’ve seen made by the people I’m lucky enough to call mentors and role models.

To learn more about Westminster’s School of Business, click here.

Sponsored by the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, Summer Research Fellowships at Westminster College allow students to conduct hands-on research and creative projects under the guidance of our experienced faculty mentors.