Spreading the spark

The University of South Carolina was the catalyst for his successful career, and William Ellerbee “Trey” Ackerman III, ’97, MTax ’98, wants to help a new generation of  students find similar professional success of their own.

To that end, Trey and his wife, Shannan, have designated a $250,000 life insurance policy to the Darla Moore School of Business to establish the Trey and Shannan Ackerman Endowed Scholarship Fund. To make an immediate and direct impact, the Ackermans have also committed to funding a $2,500 annual scholarship..

Ackerman had been thinking about paying it forward ever since he was the beneficiary of the generosity of Arthur Parsons, a successful businessman and head of a prominent family from Ackerman’s hometown of Andrews, S.C. By dint of his efforts in high school, Ackerman had earned a sizeable academic scholarship for his studies, but there was still a gap to be covered.

“I knew that my options were either to place that burden on my parents, which I did not want to do, or take out student loans,” Ackerman says. “With the Arthur Henry Parsons Scholarship and the valedictorian scholarship from Carolina, my undergraduate education was fully funded for four years, and I’ve always been grateful for that and the other support that I’ve gotten from the Parsons family.”

The rigor of the accounting program gave him the tools and commitment to succeed in his career, Ackerman says. Now the market managing partner in the Charlotte, N.C., headquarters of the assurance, tax and advisory services firm Dixon Hughes Goodman LLC, he organizes his company’s recruiting at Carolina and is an active alumnus. A gathering at the Darla Moore School of Business this summer inspired a concrete plan to give back.

“We had all the alumni from the firm there. The faculty gave us some updates, Dean (Peter) Brews shared his perspective and Coach (Dawn) Staley was the keynote. We had a one-on-one with her on teamwork, goal-setting, life challenges,” Ackerman says. “We had personal testimony from our team members and we really set some goals, not only for what the firm was going to do to invest, but for what we were going to do as an alumni team.

“It was a fantastic day. From my perspective, this is the foundation, the start of something that we want to build upon.”

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