Deborah Beams lives in Dallas, Texas where she is a CPA with BKD, LLP. Beams’ experience at UNT provided her the necessary classes to be eligible for the CPA exam. Beams represented the Honors College on Jeopardy! and is proud to share that she is a 2-day champion! Beams earned her B.S. and M.S. in Accounting from the University of North Texas in 2005 and was a member of the Honors Program.
What brought you to the University of North Texas (UNT)?
A combination of several factors, including location, strong accounting department, scholarship offer, and music opportunities came together to make UNT my top choice.
Why did you choose to be a member of the UNT Honors College (or program) during your studies?
I came as a National Merit Finalist and being part of the Honors Program was part of my scholarship package. But I would have chosen it anyway for the extra enrichment. I was in the first group to graduate after the change from Honors Program to College – the change was effective August 1, 2005 and I graduated on August 13.
What do you remember enjoying about the Honors College?
I really liked the smaller class sizes, seeing lots of the same faces in multiple classes. It made the large university feel more like a smaller school.
How did your experience at UNT and in the Honors College shape your career path?
UNT provided me the necessary classes to be eligible for the CPA exam. The Honors College helped shape my critical thinking and writing skills that are important as an auditor.
What was the most valuable lesson – inside or outside the classroom – that you learned at UNT?
One of my accounting professors, Dr. Ray Clay, often would describe a scenario in class and then ask us what we would do in that situation. He taught us the first thing to say is “I don’t know” because we don’t really know what we would do in a given set of circumstances until we are actually in them.
What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
I went to work for a CPA firm in Dallas.
Please share a memorable moment or experience from your time at UNT and the Honors College.
When I was in the masters’ portion of my program, I worked as a grader for a professor. I identified several instances of plagiarism, including one on an assignment about ethics. Already showing signs of being a good auditor!
How would you describe UNT, the Honors College, and Denton?
Denton is a great college town, though it has changed a lot since I was there. I was involved in a local church and volunteered at the Bayless-Selby House Museum, which got me out of my campus bubble and helped remind me there was a broader community in town.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). There, I was part of the accounting standard-setting process for state and local governments.
Did you pursue any other career paths prior to your current occupation? If so, please describe your occupational history.
Not a career path for most people, but I had some success as a game show contestant. I had wanted to be on Jeopardy! for as long as I can remember. My first audition was while I was at UNT for the college tournament. In 2017 my dream finally came true. I was selected to be on the show and became a 2-day champion.
Several years ago, a partner at my previous firm teased me that auditing is just my “for now” job until my music career takes off. I say auditing is the job that supports my music hobby. I play the violin in my church orchestra and a community symphony. In recent years, I have had opportunities to play at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House, among others.
What advice/insight do you have for UNT alumni and students interested in your field?
There are many different paths within the accounting profession. I am passionate about not-for-profit and governmental accounting. Others enjoy the SEC world, international accounting, or corporate taxes, or personal taxes. It takes all of us to make the various sectors of the profession work. Also, take the CPA exam as soon as possible.