Dillard College Young Alumni Award

CPA James Rowland thankful for opportunities provided by Dillard College, MSU Texas

James Rowland has done something not many Midwestern State University graduates would admit to. He has proudly worn the purple of Tarleton State, competing in two seasons of basketball for MSU’s rival.  

But long before he graduated, he traded out college colors. And Rowland truly found his footing as a college student when he transferred to MSU Texas, a place he was already very familiar with. Rowland graduated summa cum laude from MSU in 2009 with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration. He received the President’s Medal of Excellence upon graduation from the Dillard College of Business. 

Rowland recently returned to Dillard College to receive the Dillard Young Alumni Award for 2020. He was honored to speak at an event held to honor Kay Dillard and her lifetime of contributions. "I want to say a great thank you to the Dillard family for the contributions they made at this university and for providing this beautiful building," he said in a brief speech.

Rowland’s career path came into focus when he enrolled at MSU Texas.   

“I grew up spending lots of time on Midwestern State’s campus,” Rowland said. “I attended a basketball camp there every year since I can remember. I had multiple family members before me who attended the college, so I always knew it was a great school to attend. After high school, however, I decided to go to Tarleton State University to join the basketball team. Like many high school students, I had no clue what I wanted to do academically. My only goal then was to try and play basketball in college.”  

And although Rowland wasn’t given much playing time for Lonn Reismann’s team, he did experience great team success as the Texans went to the NCAA Division II Elite 8 in both seasons. But he felt it was time to move. His wife, Mindy, had graduated from Iowa Park High School one year after Rowland, and she received a scholarship to join MSU’s cross country team.   

“I decided I wanted to transfer to Midwestern State, and I was going to try and join the basketball team and be closer to Mindy,” Rowland said. “However, before the season started at Midwestern State, I decided I was ready to move on to other challenges outside of basketball. This is what ultimately led to me taking the competitiveness I had in sports, and applying it to my classes.”  

And while in class at Dillard College of Business Administration, Rowland explored an internship with Freemon , Shapard & Story, where he still works to this day.  

“When I transferred to MSU, Dillard College had just been built. I remember being very impressed with how nice the business building was at MSU and how it was state of the art,” Rowland said. “This is also where I discovered that I was going to major in accounting. Prior to this, I had no clue what I was going to do once I graduated. Ultimately, I owe the professors at Dillard College, who helped me discover what I wanted to do with my life after college. I have several great memories from the Dillard College, but one that sticks out to me is taking Dr. (Jeff) Stambaugh’s class in which we had to do a simulation on having a business selling cameras. Each week, you would compete against other teams in the class, and then at the end of the class, you gave a presentation to outside business professionals on how you adjusted your strategy, etc. Not only was it fun, but it gave you your first taste of running a business in the real world.”  

Rowland didn’t completely give up sports.  One of his favorite memories at MSU was joining the cycling team. “They had various categories of riders based on experience, and even though I didn’t know what I was doing, they graciously let me join,” he said. “I made really good friends, and it allowed me to keep my competitive spirit. If you know cycling very well, you will know that I looked more like a basketball player than a cyclist, but I still loved being a part of it.” 

But he enjoyed the shorter distance between himself and his bride-to-be, Mindy.  

“I also was fortunate to be able to go through some of the same classes with Mindy at the Dillard College,” Rowland said. “She was a semester behind me, so not every class overlapped, but she also majored in accounting and became a CPA.” James graduated in December 2009, Mindy graduated in Spring 2010, and they extended the ceremony streak to three consecutive semesters by getting married on Nov. 5, 2010. Mindy is also a CPA, and the couple have two children.

Looking back, Rowland’s advice to students today would be “to always be open to trying new opportunities. The only thing I ever cared about growing up was playing basketball. However, when I stopped doing the one thing I had focused so much time on, it opened the door for me to find my career, and also it gave me a new hobby in cycling to pursue for years to come. Even to this day, I still try and expose myself to new opportunities because you never know what they will lead to.”

 Related story: Times Record News

Q&A with James Rowland

 

 James Rowland with MSU Cycling

Q: How did the internship program at Dillard help in the start of your career? 

Rowland: I highly recommend anyone going through college to try and take an internship. At the time of the internship, I hadn’t given much thought into becoming a CPA. It opened my eyes to ways that I could actually use my degree. It also helped me with my classes because I was able to start having real-life applications to the case studies I was reading and materials I was studying. Not only that, I ultimately have the internship program to thank for me ending up at Freemon, Shapard & Story. After the internship program, I stayed on as an intern through my last two years of college at the Dillard building. After I graduated, I already had a job lined up with the same company.

 

What’s the best thing about being a CPA? The best part about being a CPA is the variety of work I’m able to be exposed to. There never seems to be a dull moment. Even in public accounting, I get to work on tax returns and audits of a variety of clients in various industries. It may seem like it could get mundane, but each client is different, and you learn a lot about businesses and people you may otherwise never learned about. The biggest advantage of being a CPA, in my opinion, is there are so many options out there for finding a job. I recommend anyone majoring in accounting to pursue their CPA.

 

Thoughts on the MSU-Tarleton rivalry, having been on both sides? It definitely is a big rivalry. I never was in the locker room on the MSU side, but at Tarleton, the coaching staff understood it was a big rivalry, and it always got the team fired up and ready. The fans also knew it was a big rivalry and the games always seemed to be close. I enjoyed my time at Tarleton, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences.

  

Other memories from your time at MSU? Outside of enjoying my time at the Dillard College, I have fond memories of being able to join the Midwestern State University Cycling Team. One of my greatest passions to this day is getting out and riding my bike for long distances. 

  

  

 

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