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Nichols College’s Marcia A. Behrens, CPA and Assistant Professor of Accounting
By Sasha Fastovskiy
Ok, “fun” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when we think of accounting and numbers. Maybe “torture” is more like it. Or maybe we aren’t really anti-numbers, we just prefer to leave them to other people. But Assistant Professor Marcia Behrens is out to prove that accounting and numbers aren’t the enemy and that, in addition to being important, yes, they can actually be fun.
Professor Behrens came to Nichols with an extensive background in her field and now holds a full-time faculty position there. A Nichols accounting grad and Dudley resident herself, she has worked for the Arthur Young & Company as well as in a private industry within the Bose Corporation in Framingham. While teaching had always seemed interesting, it happened to fall into her lap as she was completing her MBA degree. Behrens soon became an adjunct at Nichols, teaching in both the day and night divisions. “I have been connected with the school for my entire life. My father was a long-time employee and I grew up in a faculty apartment in one of the dormitories,” she adds.
Professor Behrens understands the apprehension that often comes along with the idea of taking an accounting class. “Accounting is not a subject that interests everyone… It’s my job to make it less intimidating, and more importantly, to show them [students] how, where and why it will be important to them in their careers. I try to share with them real examples from my own career.” For Behrens, it’s all about getting to know the students and helping them from a more personalized place. “I will make myself available to help them out. I’m a sports fan, and I can appreciate how hard it is for our student-athletes to plan their time, so I try to attend as many of the athletic contests as possible. And the students really notice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a few minutes of one-on-one attention that cause the light to go on. I hope students leave my classes with the feeling that they have learned more than just what is in the books. In the case of accounting majors, I hope that I was able to provide some sort of insight as to a potential career path.”
Behrens stresses that there are many career opportunities available for those with knowledge and degrees in accounting. While accounting is a requirement for all business majors, it’s important to look beyond the few credits and into the future. “There are so many avenues available in the field, and a thorough knowledge of accounting is an excellent starting point for any business career,” she says. “In my own experience, I have held accounting positions in both the audit and tax areas of public accounting, in a manufacturing environment, in a not-for-profit organization, and finally, as a professor. I try to make the students aware of the wide range of opportunities available to them.” In the end, it turns out it’s not about the profit or the idea of helping Uncle Sam, it’s about helping the students; “The real reward of teaching…seeing the struggling freshman turn into a confident senior with a bright future.”