RyanA relatively simple question asked when he was a freshman is shaping the future career path of Ryan Miggin, currently a senior at Dixie State University, in St. George, Utah, and the winner of the inaugural Century Student Scholarship award.

Ryan had planned to be a finance major and as a freshman, he reached out to his mentor (and local bishop, who was a very successful professional) for some advice. “I asked him if there was one thing he would have done differently in his career. His answer surprised me; he said, ‘I would have gotten an accounting degree.’”

His mentor went on to explain how “accounting is the language of business,” and so Ryan enrolled in an intro accounting class and discovered that he loved it. Next came management accounting, which Ryan enjoyed even more. At the end of his freshman year, Ryan had switched his major to accounting.

As a junior, Ryan learned about IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) while taking a course from an instructor who was a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). The professor told his students about the certification and, according to Ryan, “the entire course was virtually a test prep to take Part 1 of the exam.” (Dixie State is endorsed by the IMA Higher Education Endorsement Program, which recognizes institutions whose curriculum maps to the content of the CMA exam).

That professor also encouraged Ryan to apply for the IMA Student Leadership Experience, which is only open to IMA-endorsed school students. Ryan was selected as one of only five students to participate in the IMA Global Board meetings in Austin, Texas, this past February. “It was an amazing experience: to meet with such high-level professionals and to learn about leadership at such a close range,” Ryan says.

Even before that experience, though, Ryan had decided to take the CMA exam, having been a recipient of a CMA Scholarship. He signed up to take Part 1 in June 2020 and followed a rigorous study routine, despite being a full-time student and working part-time at a mortgage origination company (a job he enjoys and may want to continue after completing his schooling). He made hundreds of flash cards, read textbooks over and over, and took many, many practice exams. The hard work paid off with his earning a high score and passing the exam. He plans to take Part 2 next month.

The IMA Student Leadership Experience inspired Ryan to take on more leadership roles, including becoming president of the Dixie State Accounting Club. He also decided to start an IMA student chapter on campus. He and several other student leaders are just now completing the paperwork to get that chapter off the ground (Ryan’s school is operating relatively “normally” in the midst of COVID-19, with classes still mostly in person and clubs still meeting). There are already more than a dozen students interested in joining the new chapter.

Ryan is “so very grateful” for being named the inaugural Century Student Scholarship winner: “It’s allowing me to complete my undergraduate education without any student debt.” He already plans to pursue his master's in accounting at the University of Utah after earning his bachelor’s degree in spring 2021.

“While I still may become a CPA perhaps down the line, I definitely know that public accounting is not for me. And there’s certainly one thing I know for sure: the CMA is going to give me the skills that I can use,” he says.