Grant Thornton announced on Tuesday that it has named Sonja Hightower, a University of North Texas student, as the first member of its doctoral fellowship program.

As the inaugural Grant Thornton Doctoral Fellow in Accounting, Hightower, a first-year doctoral student and former lecturer for the UNT College of Business Department of Accounting, will receive a $40,000 award dispersed over four years. A certified CPA and CIA, she brings with her 20 years of experience in accounting and finance, having previously served as senior vice president of internal audit and compliance for Vision Bank in Oklahoma.

“This is a really special opportunity to be the first university to have a student named as a recipient,” stated Marilyn Wiley, dean of the College of Business. “Grant Thornton is a known leader in accounting, and we are immensely proud that this firm has chosen to support one of our students and to support our efforts to continually attract high-level talent.”

“With my background, I understand the challenges in bringing academia and practice together,” said Hightower, per a statement. “Practitioners and researchers are too far apart. I don’t want to just talk about what isn’t working. I want to determine how we can make accounting better and help bridge the gap between academics, practitioners and standard setters.”

Hightower will be mentored by Tyler Jones, an audit services partner based in Dallas, throughout the fellowship.

“We have 8,000 professionals and 58 offices in the U.S.,” stated Jones. “As she explores opportunities to do research, she can use me and the resources of our firm. Sonja will forever have a tie with UNT, but there is also an idea that, yes, she will be considered an alum of Grant Thornton as well."

Sonja Hightower (right) and Tyler Jones (left).
Sonja Hightower (right) and Tyler Jones (left). UNT.edu

For more on Grant Thornton, head to their site here.

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