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        Accountancy, Student

        Harbert junior Webb takes the road less traveled to earn accountancy degree

        November 29, 2022 By Laura Schmitt

        All News


        LaQuell Webb could teach seminars on time management. That is, if she had the time. During her first year with the Harbert College of Business, the accountancy student worked a 12-hour overnight shift at a global material science company, attended classes during the day as a full-time student, had a few hours off and then repeated the cycle again.

        Despite the grueling schedule, Webb made the dean’s list.

        LaQuell Webb headshot

        LaQuell Webb pivoted from engineering to accountancy after working in the hospitality industry for several years.

        “It was hard, but I did it just to prove I could,” said Webb, who had returned to Auburn in August 2021 after a six-year hiatus from school. “This past August, I resigned from my job so I could put my best foot forward [in school].”

        Webb initially entered Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in the fall of 2010 straight out of high school. She completed three years in the polymer and fiber engineering program before deciding she didn’t want to pursue a career in that field.

        “I tried really hard to make it to my senior year, but it just wasn’t the right fit for me,” Webb recalled. “I want to excel at what I do in a way that I get some sort of reward out of [the work].”

        Rather than move back to New York City where her family lived, she stayed in Auburn because she’d grown fond of the community and warm winter weather. She figured she’d work for a year and save some money before returning to school at Auburn, knowing full well that some people never return to college.

        Webb started at The Hotel at Auburn University in September 2014 as a server in their banquets department. She worked her way up to trainer, then departmental supervisor.

        At the same time, she became involved in the business side of the operations, learning about logistics and payroll, among other things.

        According to Webb, the leadership at the hotel wanted employees to understand the big picture of how their job fits into the overall operations.

        “They wanted us to know what are the numbers driving [the business], how we compare to other hotels in the market,” Webb said. “I could grasp profit and loss, financial statements and the money side of things.”

        Driven by her innate interest in the numbers, Webb began giving presentations based on the profit and loss reports generated by the hotel’s accounting department, which further piqued her curiosity about room rates, capacities and other variables.

        “I loved making sense of all that,” she said.

        She also took advantage of unique educational offerings from the hotel. In 2019, Webb passed the first level certification Introductory Sommelier course from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, which was led by Master Sommelier Thomas Price.

        In March 2020, though, the hotel shut down like many businesses as part of the pandemic lockdowns.

        “When Covid happened, it changed the way I thought about my career in hospitality,” Webb said. “This gave me the push to readmit to Auburn.”

        The experience she gained during those six years led her to the School of Accountancy.

        Molly Hulsey, Harbert’s academic advisor for accountancy students, has gotten to know Webb over the past couple of years, helping her navigate the rigorous accountancy curriculum.

        “LaQuell is definitely one of the most impressive students I've had the pleasure of serving," said Hulsey, who has advised thousands of Harbert students since 2013. "She thrived in her [hotel] job while doing very well in school. I love when she comes in because I can’t wait to hear what’s going on with her.”

        Webb is planning to graduate in December 2023 and hopes to work in tax services at a mid-size public accounting firm somewhere in the southeast. In the meantime, she’s making the most of being a student without a full-time job. She’s a member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), where she is building relationships and connections with her fellow classmates and NABA Sponsors.

        Asked whether she is glad she returned to Auburn, Webb replies with an enthusiastic yes.

        “Don’t be afraid to fail or put yourself out there,” she said. “Some things [prevented] me from coming back to Auburn sooner—like being an older student in class. Or maybe feeling like I wouldn’t fit in. But you can’t fit in if you don’t make yourself available to even try. I encourage students to try even if they fail. Pivot. Talk to someone who knows more than you do to help steer you in the right direction.”

        Article updated 12/9/22