Accounting Professor Reaches New Heights

After growing up in Kingsburg, California, new BYU School of Accountancy professor Melissa Western completed her undergraduate studies in neighboring Fresno. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in, but many of her track teammates were business students. They encouraged her to try out an accounting class, which she did—and she fell in love.

“It just made total sense,” Western says. “I loved studying it, I loved talking about it, and I had a natural interest and ability in it. I explored career options and realized there were lots of opportunities.” She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from California State University, Fresno, in 2001, and soon after went to work for Hewlett Packard as a financial analyst.Melissa Western Family crop

It didn’t take long for Western to realize that the kind of work she was doing at Hewlett Packard wouldn’t get her where she wanted to be, so she moved to Indiana and earned a master’s degree in 2004 and then a PhD in 2007, both from Indiana University. Before her recent hire at BYU, she taught accounting at the University of Utah for nine years.

Western has run the Wasatch Back Ragnar relay race for many years and plans to run it again this year. A recent convert to the LDS Church, Western was sealed to her husband, Marc, last November. They love the outdoors and enjoy hiking together.

Western has two children, Elijah, age ten, and Katherine, age seven, and she tries to find ways to involve them in community service. “I’ve been trying to find things that we can do as a family that actually help the kids to see how we’re connected to others,” Western says. In the past, they have volunteered as a family to help provide food to the homeless. They are looking forward to mentoring refugee families together in the future.

“I love being a mom and I love my profession,” she says. “I feel that through my role of mother, I teach my children the most important truths that I have learned and through my profession, I teach other families’ children all that I have learned. It is a great privilege and responsibility to be a teacher. I appreciate that I have been entrusted to teach my children and the students at BYU.”