As a first-generation college student, Andee Capell sought ways to better herself and help others believe in the power of every person at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. After graduating this May, she plans to continue to build inclusivity while pursuing a Master of Professional Accountancy at the College of Business this summer.
“The culture in the College of Business pushes you, but everyone is still friendly and wants to get to know you. You’re able to navigate it with a support network that you might not get at a bigger school,” said Capell, an accounting major from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
As a freshman, Capell strived to use her experiences as a first generation student to guide others. An opportunity arose when Wendy Hunt, former coordinator of the DREAMBIG Academy, asked her to serve as a mentor for the summer program. Capell wanted to help with DREAMBIG because it provided diverse, upcoming high school seniors with the opportunity to learn about the dynamic world of business and potential career opportunities.
“Andee was a natural leader for the other DREAMBIG mentors as well as her mentees. She developed great relationships and led by example by being responsible and organized,” said Hunt.
She made an impression on her DREAMBIG mentees as well. After the academy, one high school student decided to major in accounting and stays in contact with Capell, and another served as a DREAMBIG mentor last summer.
Capell also mentored students in the First Husker program, which provides support for first generation college students.
“As a mentor, I was able to see how important it is to reach out to seniors in high school and show them the opportunities available to them. Being a first generation student myself, I know how important it is to reach out to these communities because they are less likely to go to college,” said Capell.
Dr. Aaron Crabtree, director of the School of Accountancy and associate professor of accountancy, noticed Capell’s willingness to be the guiding voice for the underrepresented, and asked her to represent Nebraska at the National Association for Black Accountants (NABA) regional conference. For Capell, the chance to attend the conference demonstrated how the college stands behind the guiding principle of being inclusive.
“Coming from South Dakota and a biracial family, I am the diversity. Arriving at Nebraska and seeing how the university pushed for diversity with the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center and Dr. Crabtree choosing to send me to the conference, showed me how important it was to Nebraska to be more inclusive,” she said. “I was able to meet people from all over the country who realize the importance of reaching out to underrepresented students and being inclusive in the field of accounting.”
Building off the same guiding principle, Crabtree encouraged Capell and others to form a NABA chapter at the university. Formalizing the chapter halted due to COVID-19 restrictions, but for Crabtree, the premise of creating a support system remains.
“My hope is with an official chapter, we can build a sense of belonging for some of our underrepresented groups. Additionally, students in the new chapter can start mentoring other students to help them succeed,” said Crabtree. “When students leave Nebraska, they will encounter many diverse people. Accounting is a service business and we have to understand that we need to help our clients regardless of what we may have or not have in common.”
Due to COVID-19, Capell and nearly 600 other Nebraska Business students graduated May 9 with a virtual celebration. Though the pandemic brought many unknowns, Capell’s decision on where to go next never faltered.
“I applied to MPA programs at other universities but decided to stay at Nebraska because of the community and culture. I already know many of the faculty who can help me dive deeper into what I want to know about accounting,” she said.
To learn more about the Nebraska MPA program and upcoming informational webinars, visit: https://business.unl.edu/mpa.