Accounting pioneer challenges current and future CPAs to "reach higher"

Nathan T. Garrett, a distinguished CPA, attorney, author and community leader, was the WSU School of Business Administration’s 2014 Richard H. Austin Lecturer.

In his address, titled "A Fruitful Life: Don’t Be Content with Low-Hanging Fruit," Garrett offered a dynamic retrospective of his life, community service and accomplishments, dating from the late 1950s – a time of dramatic change in our nation’s social order – up through the issues facing today’s young people.

Garrett spoke of the impact the legendary Richard Austin had on his life and career. Austin, Michigan’s first black CPA and the first African American in the U.S. to be elected to the statewide post of Secretary of State, gave Garrett and many other young African Americans their first jobs in accounting.

Garrett eventually returned to his hometown of Durham, N.C., where he would establish his own CPA firm and become a force in the practice of accounting as well as education, politics and community service for the next half century.

Garrett closed by challenging those currently seeking the CPA designation to maximize its value for themselves and others.

"Once you gain entry [into the field of accountancy], you must reach for higher fruit," Garrett said. "You must devote yourself to lifelong learning. You must devote yourself to the wellbeing of your family and give them all the full measure of your love. And, finally, you must commit yourself to serve your profession and your communities through voluntary civic organizations and through engaging in the political world as candidates or as supporters of candidates and of public issues."

Garrett’s entire lecture can be viewed here:

Photos of the event can be viewed here:

The 2014 Richard H. Austin Lecture was one of the capstone events of the School of Business Administration’s Winter 2014 Alumni Week.

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