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"Through the Harbert College of Business, I've been able to see that business is so much more than crunching numbers and meeting the bottom line ... " — Erin Casolaro
The Harbert College is committed to providing a superior student experience that produces highly sought-after graduates and cultivates long-life achievement.
Casolaro, who is double majoring in Accounting and Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies in the College of Human Sciences, joins Harbert alums Katie Wiggins (2020-21), Makenzie Warnick (2019-20), Ben Seneker (2018-2019), Sarah Patrick (2017-18), Zach Blomeley (2016-17), Lauren Cleveland (2015-16), Brandon Steverson (2014-15) and Gabi Bailin (2012-13) on this prestigious list.
Erin Casolaro, a junior in the School of Accountancy, is working this summer as an intern in the Accounting Department of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“I owe a lot to the College of Business and the School of Accountancy, and the amazing work that Auburn does to prepare students for life beyond school,” said the Fairhope, Alabama, native. “I’m a proud member of the Auburn family, and I would not want to be anywhere else.”
The prestigious PCAOB Scholarship Program was created to satisfy a requirement of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The Act mandates that the PCAOB use money collected from disciplinary penalties to fund a merit scholarship program for students in accredited accounting degree programs. Nominees must demonstrate an interest and aptitude in accounting and auditing.
“The Harbert College has invested in me, not just as a student in the classroom, but as a person in professional development and relational development,” she noted. “I’ve been given hands-on experiences, whether that be interviewing people in the industry, interacting with them through recruiting events, professional development classes with Colby Lakas, or members of the Office of Professional and Career Development.
“By investing in those experiences, and Auburn taking the time to show me what it looks like to survive and thrive in the professional world, Auburn has allowed me to see what it looks like to be a crucial member of a team and as a community. That's going to serve me well, serve a company well and clients well, in the future. Through the Harbert College of Business, I've been able to see that business is so much more than crunching numbers, and meeting the bottom line. It's about truly empowering others to see goals, realize dreams, honing our skills and trying to strengthen our weaknesses and leverage those with other team members and colleagues in a way that I don't if think I'd gone to a different school or taken a different path that I would had the experience to learn and grow.”
Casolaro hopes to use skills learned in the Harbert College and parlay them toward success in the non-profit sector beyond Auburn. As an intern this summer in the Accounting Department of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Casolaro is gaining new perspectives on accounting, philanthropy and public service.
But there’s more to Casolaro than accounting … she’s also a researcher. As the Hunger Solutions Institute Undergraduate Research Fellow within the College of Human Sciences, her double major has afforded her other opportunities than juggling debits and credits. Casolaro’s two-year research project, with mentor Dr. Alicia Powers, “Financial Implications of Personal Gardening Among Elderly in Rural Alabama,” allowed her to explore the unseen world of food insecurity among the elderly and recognize gardening as a potential solution.
“I’ve had the opportunity to continue that personal research project from my freshman year into an undergraduate research fellowship over the past year,” she said. “I'm currently still trying to complete the manuscript and move into publication, which is very exciting and very humbling. This made me realize some of the ways that I can grow, and some ways I can keep pushing forward.”
Casolaro utilized business skills learned at Harbert for the study.
“It was a little different than general accounting,” she said. “There was a ton of financial analysis with spreadsheets filled with gallons of asparagus, tomatoes and kale. Definitely my coursework helped me on the bigger picture of how this could be used long-term. My business analytics class helped me think more about the further benefit that this can have for communities and the larger impact that can follow. This is just one sample size, so how could this be expanded in the future in order to best serve and uplift more people?
“Research in one arena using business skills connected a lot of dots for me, which is cool to see two very different parts of the university and two very different course works come together. I absolutely love the amount of collaboration that Auburn emphasizes across colleges and across majors and studies and disciplines.”