SEBA Student Profile, Canaan Briggins

Briggins was nominated by his professor to attend the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Accounting Scholars Leadership Conference in North Carolina in May.

Canaan Briggins

    When Canaan Briggins decided to move all the way across the country to attend school at Saint Mary’s, he was conflicted about being so far from his home in Miami. However, he knew that if you want to change your life for the better, you sometimes have to take a risk. “I’ve learned in life that if you don’t challenge yourself, you continue to plateau,” he said.

    Telling his family about the move didn’t come easy. “I told my mother immediately because the actual acceptance letter went straight to my house in Miami,” he said. His mother took a picture of the acceptance letter and said, “Wow,” but didn’t say anything else. “Are you excited?” he asked her. “Wow,” she said again. Assuming she was indeed happy with his acceptance, he committed to going and, during the graduation ceremony at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University broke it to the rest of his family. “They knew it would be a great opportunity, that it would allow me to grow, but they said, ‘You really won’t be a skip and a hop away anymore,’” said Briggins. “I took a leap of faith. Being so young and not having as much responsibility, you’re afforded those changes. I haven’t regretted it.”

    His hard work at Saint Mary’s has paid off.  Briggins was recently selected to attend the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) funded Accounting Scholars Leadership Conference in North Carolina next month. The AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop (ASLW) is an annual invitation-only program for minority accounting students who plan to pursue the CPA designation. The workshop includes learning sessions and panel discussions along with opportunities to network with CPA professionals. Applicants to the Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop must come from a minority background; meet a 3.0 GPA; be working towards an accounting, finance or tax major program; be pursuing the CPA credential; and have membership in the AICPA in addition to being a first-time attendee.

    “I nominated Canaan. He is a stellar student in our full-time M.S. Accounting program who was heavily recruited by the Big-4,” said his accounting Professor Sankaran Venkateswar.

    Briggins first learned about the Masters of Accounting program that he will graduate from this year from Queen Ross, who currently attends Rider University. He’d originally heard about the consortium through school, an opportunity that the AICPA does yearly. ”It’s funny because Queen introduced me to this school and this conference. We were at the Diversity Consortium Conference,” said Briggins. “Some of the representatives came to our school and introduced the idea that they were having this conference for minorities and asked who had an interest in accounting, so I applied. Queen and I felt that we had similar interests and life goals, so we stayed in touch. It just so happened that we were both looking for Master’s of Accounting programs. She informed me about Saint Mary’s—she did a google search and found that Saint Mary’s was offering a Masters in Accounting program. She said, ‘Canaan, I know this is in California, but I think this would be a great fit for you. I know you said you wanted a change and you want to be challenge.’”

     “Queen is one of the most willing people I know to share opportunities. She tries to make the world a better place and just be the best she can be.” Not only did Queen tell him about Saint Mary’s after their first interaction at the consortium, they’ve stayed in touch ever since. And they will be seeing each other again soon, as Ross has also been selected to attend the AICPA funded Accounting Scholars Leadership Conference in North Carolina next month as well.  

    Since moving to California, Briggins also connected with an aunt he’d never known about before. “She’s really made the adjustment from Florida to California easy. On the weekends I go to see her and get a home-cooked meal.”

    After graduating this year Briggins will be staying in the Bay Area. Beaming, he shared that he was also recently accepted for an accounting position at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Hindsight is twenty-twenty. You don’t always see the whole picture, and I’m glad all the pieces came together,” said Briggins.