Inspiring Wildcat: Vanessa Beke ’23

N’gbesso Ruth Vanessa Beke ’23, known to fellow Wildcats as Vanessa, has headed out into the world after earning her Corporate Accounting and Financial Analysis degree from JWU’s Charlotte Campus in Fall 2023 — but she began spreading her wings almost as soon as she arrived on campus.

a photo of Vanessa Beke ’23 posing with a smile and crossed arms in the lobby of JWU's Wildcat Center

Vanessa Beke ’23 poses at the Wildcat Center where she served as a student assistant for JWU Athletics while studying at JWU.

Originally from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Vanessa had lived in the D.C. area since she was a child. In high school, she hadn’t yet envisioned a dream school aside from not wanting to attend college too far from home, but when a JWU admissions rep visited her marketing class, Vanessa says she quickly fell in love with JWU. She shares that she was most drawn to JWU’s “on-hand learning, small classes and ability to be in the center of a big city, since I’m from a big city.”

Vanessa took advantage of those attributes, becoming part of the JWU community while also taking steps toward her future career.

What was it like interning at Johnson & Johnson?

“It was really interesting for me to head towards something good. I’ve never moved out on my own to live in an area for 10 weeks,” Vanessa shares of her experience at the Johnson & Johnson Vision corporate office in Jacksonville, Florida.

During her internship, she mainly handled data analysis, working toward completing an expense project — with the added benefit of being able to go to the beach after work. “It was good for me because I learned a lot and I met amazing people,” says Vanessa. “That experience opened my eyes a lot when it came to seeing how my life would look like after college.” She added that the people at Johnson & Johnson were really kind and even brought Vanessa and her fellow interns to New Brunswick, New Jersey for an “intern bootcamp” training.

How did JWU help prepare you for a real work environment?

“I was an accounting major, so all the skills I learned in class I had to apply,” says Vanessa. “Communications was a huge one, as it was required of me to communicate with my coworkers one-on-one.” One of the many people at Johnson & Johnson whom Vanessa spoke with during her time there was the vice president of finance. “I won an interview with her at a raffle,” shares Vanessa, revealing a go-getter attitude to meet and learn from corporate leaders.

Vanessa had plenty of other ways to hone her work experience at JWU. For two years she worked as a student assistant to Director of Athletics Trudi Lacey at JWU’s Wildcat Center, and she also worked in management at Haymarket, a restaurant in uptown Charlotte.

“Both were great as I managed school and work, which was something I planned to do during grad school,” Vanessa shares.

What else did you get involved with while at JWU?

Vanessa was also heavily involved in her JWU community, from serving as a resident assistant (RA) on campus to serving as a member of the Upsilon Beta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., which is known as the first intercollegiate historically African American sorority.

a photo of Vanessa Beke '23 and her co-presenter captured while presenting a poster project at a JWU student symposium
Vanessa Beke '23, left, and Yen Tran '23 present their project on professionalism at JWU’s 2023 Student Research, Design and Innovation Symposium.

In addition, Vanessa took every opportunity to hone her accounting skills outside of the classroom while a Wildcat. Serving as vice president of JWU Charlotte’s Accounting Society, Beke not only traveled to an Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) conference as a Wildcat but brought back her knowledge for other students interested in accounting. She co-presented with Yen Tran ’23 at JWU’s 2023 Student Research, Design and Innovation Symposium, providing insight into what happens at a conference, how to prepare for one, how to secure an internship at an international conference and even provided expectations for presenting and for interviews.

What’s next for you?

Since earning her diploma last month, Vanessa has been working as a tax and audit intern at CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA), the country’s 8th largest accounting firm. She would love to become a full-time auditor at the firm — but her accounting dreams go even higher.

“I’m planning on going to graduate school in Fall 2024 for either accounting or business administration,” she shares. “I’m striving to get my CPA license, too.”

“I love my career path and the woman that I’m becoming." - Vanessa Beke '23

Who or what inspires you, and how do you hope to inspire others?

“I think finding my purpose inspires me the most,” says Vanessa. “I think joy is the one thing no one can take from you, and I made that the center of everything that I do.”

She continues, “I love my career path and the woman that I’m becoming. I would tell the youth to focus on the things that will make you want to get up every day, whatever that may be.” 


Explore JWU's Corporate Accounting and Financial Analysis program

Apply to JWU

Transfer to JWU

Visit JWU