2018 Best & Brightest: Rakiya Cunningham, University of Texas (McCombs)

Rakiya Cunningham

University of Texas (McCombs)

“I am a bold, tenacious business woman who hits the robot in her free time.”

Fun fact about yourself: I climbed the Great Wall of China at 4:00 am and got to see the sun rise.

Hometown: Mesquite, TX

High School: Dr. John D. Horn High School

Major: Finance

Minor: Accounting

Favorite Business Course:  

Wealth Management and Financial Planning and How to Run Your Own Business: Managerial Accounting and Control

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Black Business Student Association: President, Executive Vice President, External Relations Committee
  • Gateway Mentor and Teaching Assistant
  • McCombs First-Year Mentorship Program Coordinator
  • University Spirit Squad; All-Girl Cheer Team
  • Delta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.: Membership Intake Chairman, Treasurer
  • National Pan-Hellenic Council: Treasurer
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow: Career Prep Program Fellow
  • McCombs LeaderShape Participant
  • Brian L. Fontenot Development Program

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • PepsiCo, Frito-Lay: Strategic Finance Intern (Plano, TX)
  • KPMG LLP: Corporate Management Intern, State and Local Tax (Dallas, TX)
  • KPMG LLP: Corporate Management Intern, Forensics and Audit (Dallas, TX)

Where will you be working after graduation? Shell Oil Company, Financial Analyst (Houston, TX)

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The thing I enjoyed most about McCombs is the professors. As no one in my family is in business, my professors really introduced me to a breadth of industries and opportunities within business and Finance that I had no idea about. Their experiences bring the curriculum to life and really prepare me to use it in the work place.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Don’t limit yourself to a certain major or industry early on. There are so many opportunities and industries to explore that contribute to your ability to view problems from different lenses. Business is so multi-dimensional and you never know what you may end up really liking. When I first attended college, I was set on majoring in Accounting and working for a Big Four firm. After learning more, I realized I really enjoyed Corporate Finance, but could still use my knowledge in Accounting.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in public policy and maybe pursuing law school. I’ve always wanted to help people and I feel like I could make a difference studying policies that affect people’s standard of living the most.”

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of the work I’ve done with the Black Business Student Association (BBSA). As the President and Executive Vice President, I gained over $10,000 for the organization as well as provided career development opportunities for underrepresented business students. Through my involvement in the organization, I’ve had the opportunity to help students of color find a home in McCombs. I used my position to also voice the concerns of students of color within the business school to administrators and influence positive change. I am most proud to see the growth of BBSA and the successes of its members.

Which classmate do you most admire? When I first came to McCombs, I started studying Calculus with my now friends Kassi, Kyle, and Kory. We became extremely close and now are all majoring in Finance. We call ourselves “Team Finance” and I most admire them because they helped me navigate through college as a student of color.   They share my same passion for business and without them my experience in McCombs would not have been the same.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most like to thank my mom for my success because she always encouraged me to be curious, bold, and ambitious. She taught me to be fearless in all my endeavors and never be afraid to ask questions. Without that I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What would your theme song be? “Formation” by Beyoncé

I think this would be my theme song because I take pride in being a strong, independent woman and empowering other women to achieve.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Travel to every continent (4 more to go)
  2. Write a book

Favorite book:  Between the World and Me

Favorite movie: Forrest Gump

Favorite vacation spot: Las Vegas, Nevada

What are your hobbies?

  • Cultural Food Explorations
  • Traveling
  • Running
  • College Football

What made Rakiya such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?  

“Rakiya Cunningham has been a student in both of my introductory accounting courses. She is extremely focused and dedicated to her studies and contributes to the classroom. Rakiya has been one of my very top students in both courses. She has earned University Honors. Although Rakiya attends school full-time, she continues to be involved with her school and community. She is the President of the Black Business Student Association, a member of the Gateway Mentor Program, and the treasurer of Delta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has participated in the Management Leadership for Tomorrow Career Prep Program, LeaderShape, and served on the All-Girls Cheerleading Squad during her freshman year. Rakiya also had the privilege of studying abroad in Beijing, China and accepted a second internship with KPMG LLP. Rakiya is also very involved in the McCombs community and represented McCombs at the National Diversity Case Competition at Indiana University where she helped her team win second in their bracket. Rakiya is a strong leader and is well respected by her peers and professors. She displays high ethical standards in whatever she does and works extremely well with others.”

Jerry Hays
Accounting Lecturer



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