Lifelong Connections: Linda Poulson
Ryan W. Herring ’16, an assurance associate with Smith Leonard Accountants & Consultants in North Carolina, talks about his mentor Linda Poulson.
As chair of Elon’s Department of Accounting and founding faculty adviser for Elon’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information students and professionals, Linda Poulson is one of the greatest cheerleaders for accounting majors. Passionate about teaching, the associate professor was named the Outstanding Educator of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants in 2015 and received the Love School of Business Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching (2012) and Service (2006).
By Ryan W. Herring '16
When I think about Dr. Linda Poulson, the words “great professor” come to mind. But this only describes her occupation and fails to portray her impact on the Elon community. Besides having an aptitude for encouraging a true learning process in the accounting department, “mentor” better describes her passion and role at Elon.
My first encounter with Dr. Poulson in an intermediate accounting class was a different experience as a transfer accounting student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Compared to a professor who teaches in a large lecture hall, Dr. Poulson facilitated discussions in the classroom with ease and was willing to further explain concepts after class. She also often taught concepts outside the scope of the textbook. But her passion for accounting was not the only distinguishing factor. Aside from her “$600 formula,” which I still use today when analyzing account activity, her recommended strategy that helped me pass the CPA exam and her encouragement to take a leadership role on campus, Dr. Poulson provided meaningful advice that I will always keep as a burgeoning professional.
One such piece of advice came during class. Early in the semester, Dr. Poulson wrote an insightful, yet simple, phrase on the board: “Familiarity and Knowledge.” She went on to explain the difference and value of true understanding compared to familiarity. Although this quote related to class material, I apply it in my career every day as I attempt to learn, and fully understand, new information. Then there were our casual conversations.
Dr. Poulson used to tell me “luck” was the point where opportunity meets preparedness. As a student, this instilled in me the importance of being prepared for any situation in life. Of course one has to act upon that opportunity, which leads me to another lesson I learned from Dr. Poulson: “No decision is fatal.” Understanding that decisions are not necessarily made for life is crucial for a college student about to launch a professional career. Dr. Poulson encouraged me and others to never let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent us from making any decision.
I’m grateful to Dr. Poulson for this and many other lessons I’ve been able to use as a young CPA. But above all, I’m grateful for the meaningful relationship I developed with Dr. Poulson—she even attended my wedding. I know there are countless students who share my experience and many more who have yet to learn from this truly amazing mentor.
Ryan W. Herring '16, an assurance associate with Smith Leonard Accountants & Consultants in North Carolina. During his time at Elon, he was president of Beta Alpha Psi and received the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business Academic Excellence Award in Accounting his senior year.