A Q&A with Double Scholarship Winner Jaime Ziegenfuss Whitehead: “IMA Has Totally Changed My College Experience”


Headshot of Jamie WhiteheadThe following is a Q&A with Jaime Ziegenfuss Whitehead, winner of IMA’s 2023 Century Scholarship and the 2023 Stuart Cameron and Margaret McLeod Memorial Fund Scholarship. Jaime is currently a senior at the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University, where she serves as president of the school’s IMA student chapter. Jaime will earn her bachelor’s in business administration in May 2024, and currently, she’s an intern for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

What’s been the most valuable part of your experience as an IMA student member?
It’s definitely the relationships I’ve formed with our officer team and our awesome chapter advisor. Beyond that, the support and resources that IMA makes accessible to students—including professional development and continuing education courses, webinars about the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam and CMA Scholarship, the student conference and scholarship programs—means there’s so much value in IMA membership. As a student member, I’ve also taken advantage of some of the certificate programs that IMA offers for free, like the Data Analytics & Visualization Fundamentals Certificate®.

Would you encourage other students to get involved in their IMA student chapter?
YES. Getting involved with your chapter is a great way to expand your knowledge about the profession, meet like-minded people, and explore the avenues available to you in the accounting and finance profession. My favorite experience so far as a student member was attending the IMA Student Leadership Conference last year. It was a great bonding experience for me with other chapter members. I also gained a lot of insights into the meaningful work of a management accountant and the way the field is changing. The things I learned at the conference helped me find direction with what classes I wanted to focus on and my concentration for my master’s degree.

How is your experience serving as the student chapter president?
Serving as the president of our student chapter has been incredibly rewarding. I enjoy putting my energy into the student organization and working toward something that adds value to other students and App State’s accounting program. I also get to exercise my entrepreneurial and leadership skills. It’s been a lot of fun to work with our officer team and strategize how to grow and develop the chapter. We’ve seen a lot of engagement from students and a lot of positive feedback. We also earned our Gold Level Award of Excellence last year, something I’m really proud of.

How has being involved in IMA contributed to your college experience and what value do you think it will be to you in the future?
Getting involved in IMA has totally changed my college experience. I’ve learned so much more about the variety of opportunities in the accounting field and done some fun things as a chapter member, such as attending the Student Leadership Conference and participating in the student case competition. Our all-women officer team even made a trip to the IMA Women’s Leadership Summit in Nashville last spring. As I was awarded two scholarships from IMA, I was also invited to attend IMA’s Accounting & Finance Conference in Minneapolis this past June. Through my scholarships, I’ve gotten involved in both our local parent chapter and the Carolinas Council as a student representative. 

I also was lucky to be one of our university’s CMA Scholarship recipients, and this year, I will be studying with and sitting for the exam with some of our chapter’s other scholarship winners. Having my CMA will provide long-term value that I will carry with me throughout my career. I know that IMA will continue to be a resource for me as I continue my journey beyond school. I plan to stay involved with the organization and continue to take advantage of IMA’s learning resources.