Alumni Profile: Danielle Paventi
“The way that someone learns accounting determines whether they like it or not,” says business and economics alum Danielle Paventi C‘11. When she came to North Park as a freshman, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in. “All I knew was that I wanted to do something in business.” But it didn’t take long to make her decision: a financial accounting class in the spring semester of her first year made up Danielle’s mind. She declared a major in business and economics, with concentrations in accounting and finance, along with a minor in French.
Danielle credits Professor Ann Hicks for teaching a complex subject in a way that made sense. “[Accounting] is a hard thing to understand at first, so a lot of people take one accounting class, don’t do well, and say, ‘I hate accounting.’” But that was not Danielle’s experience. She describes Professor Hicks as “a great teacher. Accounting has so many difficult concepts and she explained them so well. I am blessed to have learned from someone with such knowledge and such a gift for teaching.”
In addition to teaching several of Danielle’s classes, Professor Hicks was also Danielle’s academic advisor. When Danielle began to think about internships, Hicks was able to put her in contact with some former students and other alumni. This led to meeting a current partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where Danielle secured an internship and, later, a job. Hicks went above and beyond her teaching duties, coming to campus on a Sunday to help Danielle review practice interview questions when Danielle was offered an interview at PwC.
Attending a small school gave Danielle the unique opportunity to work closely with professors. She wasn’t just a face in a crowd; she had one-on-one help in the classroom and got to know her professors well. “Accounting isn’t an easy thing to wrap your head around. But when you’re in an advanced accounting class with only seven other students, you get the benefit of a professor who will make sure that all of the students understand the topic before moving on. That just wouldn’t be realistic with a class of 40-50 students,” she said.
Danielle also found this personalized attention and encouragement from Professor Al Kamienski, a finance professor in the business and economics program. After her first class with Kamienski, he asked Danielle to apply to be his assistant for the same class the following year and she continued to assist Kamienski in his classes for four more semesters. She says of the experience, “The tasks I performed in assisting Professor Kaminski taught me some valuable things and gave me great experience, but the opportunity to interact with him on a regular basis was invaluable. He helped me come to the decision to have two concentrations, introduced me to various alumni, helped me prepare for interviews, and gave me an overall sense of preparedness for the ‘real world.’”