Vania Rogers graduated from CBU with a degree in Accounting this past December and has just begun a successful career with the same firm she interned at. Vania was also voted Mrs. CBU during homecoming of last year and has recently been engaged to another School of Business alum, Phillip Gbee (International Business). You can learn more about Vania from her interview below, which was conducted just before she graduated.
CB: Tell a little us a little bit about your background.
VR: I am a native Memphian who was raised on the values of family, hard work, education, spirituality and self-pride (not in any particular order). I strive to incorporate all of these values in everything that I do. I was very active in my childhood ̶ from swimming lessons to piano lessons, summer camps to band camps, church outings, social and academic clubs, volleyball practices, etc. I guess this explains why I thrive on such a busy, fast-paced lifestyle.
CB: Why did you choose CBU?
VR: I like to say that CBU chose me! Being from Memphis, I’d always drive past CBU never thinking that I’d actually spend four years of my life here. My dream was to go away for college. However, I visited the campus and fell in love! I knew that this is where I belonged. Everyone was so pleasant. I knew that I would be challenged academically and that I would come to appreciate the challenge once I graduated. I hadn’t heard much about CBU until I started my college search, but I like to think of the school as one of Memphis’s “best kept secrets.”
CB: How have your academic and professional endeavors affected your personal growth here at CBU?
VR: The academic standards to which CBU holds its students have made me a more logical and critical thinker. Having a fairly tough major has taught me patience and perseverance through the challenging courses I’ve taken. There were definitely times when I wanted to change majors when things got hard, but I didn’t quit. Now, I feel able to think strategically and solve problems both in and out of the classroom. As for my professional endeavors, I credit my passionate professors and career counselors at CBU for pointing me in the right direction and helping me to foster valuable relationships with different professionals in my field. CBU has taught me how to network.
CB: What is your biggest accomplishment and what has this accomplishment meant to you?
VR: My biggest accomplishment thus far is being awarded the title “Miss CBU” during homecoming week 2014. I am still astounded to this day that I actually won! It was a challenge, yet I worked very persistently to capture my vision. I am appreciative to have had such a great stream of support during that time. Christian Brothers was established during an era when women and African Americans were not accepted into the institution. As an African American woman, I am extremely proud to be a manifestation of the barriers that have been broken over the years. It serves me well to have been selected to represent a school for which I have so much pride and spirit!
CB: What mark do you want to leave at CBU?
VR: What I hope to leave as my “mark” is my fearlessness. I am always accepting of new and invigorating challenges, despite some of the reservations I may have. A professor once said to me, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” His words have never left me, and I hope others can gain from that.
CB: What drew you to the field of accounting and what has your experience been so far?
VR: It’s funny, I actually started out as a Biochemistry major my first semester. Chemistry and I had no “chemistry,” so I decided to switch to business. Accounting was one of the required courses for business majors. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to pursue that as my major. My experience has been a rewarding challenge. Also, my family is very business-oriented. My father has been in upper-level management for many years, and my mother owns her own business. So I guess you can say that it’s in my blood.
CB: How can current and prospective students make the most out of their CBU experience to achieve greatness at their highest potential?
VR: I believe that healthy working relationships are one of the best things you can have. Forming positive relationships early on with deans, professors, staff members and fellow students will equip you with what you need to succeed. It’s difficult to make it through college alone. Luckily, there are many people at CBU who are willing and ready to make college life that much easier.
CB: I understand you are completing an internship with a local accounting firm. What can you tell me about your internship, the business, how you got there, and what you’re learning in the process?
VR: Yes. I am an intern with CBRE, a property management and real estate firm. This company is worldwide in over 40 countries. Though I am currently assigned to accounts payable, I get to dabble in several projects outside of my job. This allows me to utilize my creativity in certain aspects of accounting while getting to see different sides of the business. Amy Ware, Senior Director of Career Services, recommended this position to me through the internship program at CBU. She’s amazing!
CB: Are you involved with campus life? Tell us a little about your experience with campus activities, groups, fraternities/sororities, etc., and what it means to you.
VR: Most definitely! I was a CARL (CBU Advising & Registration Leader) for one summer, which was fun. I am a member of Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity, in which I held the position as Chancellor for the 2013-2014 academic school year. I am also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated where I have served as Vice President, Program/Fundraising Chairman and Treasurer. Having the opportunity to participate and become a member in these organizations is such an honor. Obtaining membership within each of these groups requires application and approval. To be selected, not only as a member, but also as a leader in these organizations automatically sets one apart.
I have learned that getting involved in extracurricular activities is a great way to branch out and open your mind to different ways of learning and thinking outside of your academic routine. You associate yourself with other people who may not have the same thought process as you, yet you have to get your focal mission accomplished. I think it is important for students, especially as business majors, to get involved in campus life activities; the experiences you may encounter as members and leaders in different organizations are similar to some of the executive decisions and daily happenings that occur in the professional world. It is a great way to get “business savvy” before venturing into any career.
CB: Have you done any volunteer work or performed community service through any of the organizations you’ve been involved with?
VR: The majority of the volunteer work that I’ve done within these organizations is because of my membership in AKA. AKA is a service-based sorority, so I have partaken in various service projects. Last year, I organized and chaired a major program to raise funds for Heifer International. On several occasions I have also volunteered at St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen located in downtown Memphis. This has always been a personal favorite of mine.
CB: Who (or what) inspires you?
VR: My biggest inspiration comes from knowing the kind of lifestyle that I want to lead and the legacy that I want to leave on this earth. I live so that my actions and decisions will positively impact those around me who I love most. My every move is geared toward making sure that I uphold the values that my parents worked so hard to instill in me so that I may render the same wisdom to my child(ren).
CB: What are your plans and goals for life after college? How has CBU helped you on the way to achieving those goals?
VR: My short-term goals are to work in my career field upon graduation before returning to complete my Master’s degree. As for long-term plans, I am open to whatever the business/accounting profession has to offer. I can definitely see myself living somewhere new and learning a different culture. CBU has definitely been instrumental in making my post-graduation transition a lot smoother. Because of the CBU professionals and the wonderful career services, I don’t have to “job hunt” after graduation. They made sure that I got connected with the right people. As a December 2014 graduate, I had pretty much solidified my post-graduation plans weeks in advanced. That eliminated a major stress that so many recent college graduates encounter while struggling to find jobs.
CB: What will you remember the most when you look back on your college experience at CBU?
VR: I will forever remember Buckman Hall! 95% of my time on campus was spent in that building. There are so many memories ― from my hardest classes, to work/study; I had so many DeltaSig meetings in there! Come to think of it, almost every meeting I’ve ever had on campus was probably held in Buckman. A lot of my growth transpired in that building.
CB: Looking back at all that you’ve learned and experienced, what advice would you give to a first-time freshman?
VR: I would advise freshmen not to overwhelm themselves with too much during their first year. The college transition can be difficult enough in itself without trying to be the president/coordinator of five different organizations. Setting yourself up to have the highest GPA possible from the beginning is critical. Once you get into your upper-division courses, it is much harder to redeem your GPA if you’ve been slacking academically during your freshman and sophomore years. You can always join an organization―that’s one of the great things about CBU.