Student Profile - Kristeen Reynolds

Accounting major loves crunching numbers, wants to start a business

After graduating as valedictorian of her senior class at Memorial High School in Port Arthur, accounting major Kristeen Reynolds planned to attend Lamar University for one year and then transfer to the University of Texas on a full scholarship. After her first year, though, she knew that Lamar was where she belonged.

Kristeen Reynolds“I chose to stay here for a year because Lamar is small and close to my family,” Reynolds said. “Once I got here, though, I fell in love with the faculty.”

Since Reynolds has chosen to stay at Lamar, she has received the Wilfred Long, Sr. Memorial Scholarship in Business. She also receives the Gates Millennium Scholarship and the Southeast Texas Legends Scholarship.

“Because of the scholarships I have received, it’s not an absolute necessity for me to work, so I have more time to help other people,” Reynolds said. “Lamar has really taught me to give back.”

In her time at Lamar, Reynolds has become involved with many student organizations. She is the president of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA); the vice president of the Student Advisory Council to the dean of the College of Business; the secretary of Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary accounting society; a member of the Accounting Society; a Lamar Ambassador; and a member of the Lamar Honors program.

“Professional organizations are a great way to help the people who are coming in and don’t know what to do, and they’re a good way of giving back,” Reynolds said. “They also help me network with other students and with professionals that visit campus, and networking is key.”

As the NABA president, Reynolds attended the 34th Annual Southwest Western Region Student Conference in Houston in October, where she and her fellow NABA members could network with major corporations and accounting firms and attend student seminars. Reynolds’ favorite part of the conference was helping her fellow members prepare for interviews, and she was thrilled when they got calls back for job offers.

“I just felt so much joy knowing the people I had helped had received calls back,” Reynolds said. “It is truly better to give than to receive.”

In addition, Reynolds has written two papers over her personal accounting research, for which she received honors credit. The first covered IFRS versus GAAP accounting standards, and the second discussed the Sarbanes Oxley Act in relation to the Enron scandal. She also stays active as a Gates Millennium Scholar by helping students apply for the scholarship and attending national conferences.

Reynolds feels that her experiences with accounting organizations have helped her to cultivate a sense of professionalism and become more fully involved with Lamar’s accounting program. Reynolds, who loves crunching numbers, says her favorite class is Accounting 2301 with Clare Burns. Her favorite thing about the accounting program, though, is not the numbers but the faculty.

“I love the accounting faculty. They have a lot of real-world experience, and it really shines through in the classroom,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds is also interested in entrepreneurship and is taking advantage of the many entrepreneurship courses Lamar offers. She said her interest in accounting and entrepreneurship began when she was six years old and opened a frozen Kool-Aid stand in her front yard. She knew at that moment that she wanted to own her own business someday.

Her interest grew, and in the summer of her ninth grade year, Reynolds discovered a potential business opportunity she wanted to pursue. Reynolds found a wholesale producer of Shutter Shades, a type of sunglasses popularized by Kanye West, which were not available in the Golden Triangle. Reynolds created a business plan and presented it to her mother, who became her investor. She then ordered the sunglasses and marketed them, selling them to her peers.

“I went from the beginning stage of getting an investor to ordering the product, marketing it, selling it, and having the profit to use how I wanted,” Reynolds said. “The whole experience was great, and I knew then that I was very interested in entrepreneurship.”

Reynolds, who is working on her bachelor’s degree, would like to receive her masters of business administration and work in accounting to support her dream of starting a business.

“When the time comes to start my own business, my accounting background will give me an advantage with the financial side,” Reynolds said.

While Reynolds is not entirely sure what type of business she wants to start yet, she does have one definite goal: to own a sports team. This dream was bolstered when she met Texas State University System Regent Charles Amato at a reception for a Lamar presidential finalist, which she attended with Lamar Ambassadors.

“He has ownership interest in the San Antonio Spurs, so it was just amazing that at 19 I got to meet someone who has accomplished one of my dreams,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ biggest inspiration, though, has been her family. Her mother is an accountant, and she frequently took Reynolds to work with her when Reynolds was younger to teach her the basics.

“My mom is successful, optimistic, loving, determined and driven,” Reynolds said. “She has a good career, and she embodies what I’ve always wanted to be.”

Reynolds has also been encouraged by the legacy of her grandparents. After her grandmother completed college, she and Reynolds’ grandfather started their own business and eventually became very successful.

“I am blessed to have grown up in a family in which everyone went to college and got jobs, but they also took time to spend with each other and love each other,” Reynolds said.

The biggest lesson that Reynolds has learned from her family and applied to her experiences at Lamar is to never give up.

“Get involved, set goals and persevere until you achieve your goals,” Reynolds said. “Once you achieve your goal, set another, and never give up on achieving your dreams.”