ACIS Fall 2020 Master's Program Graduates

The Undergraduate Accounting and Information Systems (ACIS) and Master's of Accounting and Information Systems (MACIS) Class of 2020 joined our ACIS faculty for graduation celebrations via Zoom on Thursday, December 17, 2020.  While COVID-19 prevented us from coming together in-person, we are thankful to have had the opportunity to celebrate our graduates.  During these celebrations, students reflected on their time at Virginia Tech and faculty provided words of wisdom and advice for the future.

Dr. Jack Maher, ACIS Department Head and Professor, kicked off the celebrations by sharing a message of reflection and hope.  He complimented our graduates’ ability to adapt to these difficult times and assured them that they will “continue to utilize that skill for [their] happiness and success in the future.”  Dr. Maher encouraged graduates to “focus on those things you think are really important.  It is easy to get caught up in the rush of daily life and take for granted the really important things in life.”  He urged graduates to appreciate the blessings they have, large and small, both now and in the future.  He went on to offer a message of optimism.  This included positivity about our collective future beyond the pandemic as well as our graduates’ professional opportunities.  Dr. Maher concluded with sincere congratulations on the achievements of our graduates.

Dr. Jack Maher, ACIS Department Head
Nadia Rogers

The events were hosted by Professor Nadia Rogers, whose signature enthusiasm was felt by all in attendance despite the virtual nature of the celebration.  “Wow! What a year!  No one could have predicted the events that unfolded in 2020,”  Professor Rogers began.  “You all have overcome so many challenges, and your resilience has been quite honestly, incredible.  We have all done the best we can given the circumstances and I know we will all have lasting memories of this truly unprecedented time in our lives.”  She then asked graduates to reflect on their time in the ACIS programs.

Our undergraduate ACIS students’ reflections included stories from Nick Mercuro and Zhenghao Zhang about how they chose Accounting & Information Systems and the role their faculty played in that decision.  Several students expressed their appreciation for both the rigor and passion faculty brought to their courses.  Lauren Elmore found Jacob Shortt’s Intermediate Accounting II course “super interesting” and enjoyed bouncing ideas around with classmates.  Garrett Mee also found Jacob Shortt’s class helpful because he shared “all the things he wish he knew back when he was entering the work force”.

Nick Mercuro
Zhanghao Zhang
Lauren Elmore

Katie Hedrick specifically addressed learning during the pandemic and found that faculty passion for their subject matter and respect for their students “still came through in the teaching and made it so much easier to actually learn”.  Kathryn Robertson contrasted her ACIS classes to her high school experience saying she enjoyed her high school classes, but she found motivation and inspiration in her ACIS courses and faculty.  Jake Moore expressed his appreciation for Nadia Rogers’ Forensics class.  Although he does not plan for a career in forensic accounting, he looks forward to using the information learned in class in his full-time position following graduation.

Jake Moore
Katie Hedrick
Kathryn Robertson

Austin Tuck shared a memory from the Pamplin Picnic which took place in the first week of his college experience.  He recalled seeing one of his new professors, Eric Martin, being repeatedly dropped into the carnival dunk tank and good-naturedly climbing back up on the seat for more punishment.  At that point, Austin decided college might not be as scary and impersonal as he had been told.

Austin Tuck
Eric Martin

Our MACIS students shared their positivity about their futures and their appreciation for their time at Virginia Tech.  Gaurav Patadia recalled visiting campus the first time.  He made the decision to join the ACIS program after meeting Professor Rogers and is glad he did so because our “mix of business and technology is the best education one can get for present times.”  Tripti Rajput recounted that when she began her graduate program search she compiled a list of 30 colleges.  Over time, she whittled it down to 20, then 10 colleges, and ultimately applied to only one:  MACIS at Virginia Tech.  She too attributed that decision to the warmth provided by Nadia Rogers.  Dani Booth expressed her excitement about the future, her appreciation for everyone she met in Blacksburg, and said she feels prepared for the challenges ahead.

Gaurav Patadia
Tripti Rajput
Dani Booth

Rachael Simmons continues the Hokie tradition in her family.  Rachael said she “loved her time here at Virginia Tech because of the connections with both friends and professors.  I am so grateful for how invested the professors are, wanting to get to know us and help us learn.”  Jin Wang shared one of his favorite quotes “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”  He suggested when we get overwhelmed, “take a break, take care of yourself, the luck will still come” as a result of your hard work.  Callie Gay’s favorite memories involve getting to know “other students in classes and the faculty on a personal level.”

Rachael Simmons
Jin Wang
Callie Gay

ACIS faculty offered encouragement and advice for the future, while also complimenting graduates on their resilience during this unusual year.  Dr. Dana Garner offered congratulations, expressed appreciation for getting to know each graduate, acknowledged the hard work that has gone into their accomplishments and encouraged them to keep in touch.  Dr. Michelle Harding shared that “faith, integrity and respect are the three guiding principles in my life and how important it is for you to figure those things out for yourself.”  Dr. Matthew Erickson urged graduates to be proud of their accomplishments particularly in light of the difficulties of the past year.  He shared his story of graduating during turbulent times to encourage graduates to keep pushing through.  He shared his confidence that they would be able to do so as they have already demonstrated that ability over the past year.  Professor Jacob Shortt expressed how much he has “enjoyed the fantastic journey” and encouraged graduates to “take the time now to be proud of yourselves.”

Dr. Dana Garner
Dr. Michelle Harding
Dr. Matthew Erickson
Jacob Shortt

During the graduate ceremony, Dr. Sarah Stein offered her congratulations and emphasized that “finishing your Master’s degree is not a small feat” given the critical thinking, problem solving and data analysis that characterizes the program.  She assured graduates that those skills will provide benefit for any career they choose in the future.  Dr. Reza Barkhi wished our graduates his best and stated “I am impressed by having you in my classes.”  Dr. Andrew Acito took on a serious tone, “You are leaving here, walking into a tough situation.  A lot of you are going to spend the next couple months basically indoors, perhaps away from family, away from friends, with very little social interaction.”  He finished with his usual sense of humor “I am talking, of course, about studying for the CPA exam.  There has probably been no better time in the history of the AICPA to be studying for the CPA exam.”

Dr. Sarah Stein
Dr. Reza Barkhi
Dr. Andrew Acito

Congratulations to our ACIS graduates!  We are so proud of you and all that you have accomplished, and we look forward to celebrating your many successes in the future.

MACIS Fall 2020 Graduates

  • Danielle Booth
  • Caroline Gay
  • Gaurav Patadia
  • Tripti Rajput
  • Rachael Simmons
  • Jin Wang

ACIS Undergraduate Fall 2020 Graduates

  • Ryan Anderson
  • Andrew Axberg
  • Hayley Clegg
  • Andrew Cox
  • Allison Ebersole
  • Lauren Elmore
  • Mia Freeman
  • Stephen Gerke
  • Lauren Gershman
  • Kaitlin Hedrick


  • Nathan Helfgott
  • Christopher Jiang
  • Annabelle Layman
  • Daniel Lear
  • Imall Mangal
  • Michael McCarty
  • John Mee
  • Nicholas Mercuro
  • Joshua Metz
  • Jake Moore
  • Michael O’Day
  • Kathryn Robertson
  • John Salm, IV
  • Sebastian Seifert
  • Trent Thomas
  • Austin Tuck
  • Christopher Urso
  • Michael Wasilewski
  • Zemin Yu
  • Zhenghao Zhang
Undergraduate Fall 2020 gradates

Written by Jean Lacoste