This story is part of the "Journey to Commencement" series that highlights University of Mississippi students and their academic and personal journeys from college student to college graduate.
Carl Upton, a graduating senior in the University of Mississippi's Patterson School of Accountancy and graduate of Jackson Preparatory School, will receive his Bachelor of Accountancy on May 11, but he said Ole Miss and accounting were not always in his plans.
It wasn't until March of his high school senior year that Upton flipped his commitment to Ole Miss after learning about the university's Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Upton started his freshman year as a chemical engineering major, but after taking Honors Accounting 201 and 202 with professor Brett Cantrell, he developed a love for accounting and switched majors.
He has experienced great success in the accountancy program and will be a proud participant in UM's 2019 Commencement, but that won't be the end of his time at Ole Miss.
This fall, Upton will enter the university's Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics program, one of two new graduate programs launched in fall 2018 by the Patterson School in collaboration with KPMG. Upton said he chose the MADA program because even though he enjoyed his tax accounting internship, he didn't want to pigeonhole himself as a tax professional this early in his career.
"I wanted to keep my education as broad and applicable to the entire accounting industry as possible," Upton said. "The entire world is becoming more and more technological and data-driven."
Upton recently finished an internship with Ernst and Young of Nashville and has accepted a full-time position with the firm after finishing the MADA program and passing his CPA exam.
Outside the classroom, Upton stays busy. He serves as the president of the Associated Accounting Student Body, which he described as an incredible experience.
Carl Upton stays involved in many aspects of campus life at the University of Mississippi including tailgating with his family before Ole Miss football games.
"I have had access to the accounting alumni board and sat in on their meeting," Upton said. "It was a great connecting point and also really cool to see all the different places and firms Ole Miss graduates have gone in their professional careers.
"I have helped with recruitment of possible future accounting students and been able to go full circle in this experience."
Besides CME, Upton also is enrolled in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He is a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi scholastic and professional fraternity, and Phi Kappa Phi and Lambda Sigma honor societies. He is an Eagle Scout and an active member of the Reformed University Fellowship.
He has a long list of community service and mission trips, including serving as the director of logistics for the Ole Miss Big Event.
Carl Upton served as director of logistics for the Ole Miss Big Event, which is the largest day of community service in the state. The event typically draws as many as 2,000 student volunteers each year to participate in service opportunities across the LOU community.
Cantrell described Carl as a fantastic student in every respect.
"It was a pleasure to have him in class," Cantrell said. "He is a natural leader, and I have supreme confidence that he will be successful in his future endeavors."
"The Patterson School of Accountancy has undoubtedly prepared me for my career in public accounting," Upton said. "It's nationally renowned as a top 10 accounting school for a reason. The faculty and staff make the difference."
Story by Nicole Ethridge/Patterson School of Accountancy