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From Dancing to Debits, Northern Virginia Community College Faculty Member Goes From a Career in Ballet to Teaching Accounting and Wins Statewide Outstanding Faculty Award

Jill Mitchell is the only community college winner for this year’s State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) awards.

Jill Mitchell
Jill Mitchell, Associate Professor of Accounting at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)

Annandale, Va. (Feb. 27, 2019) - The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) recently announced that Jill Mitchell, Associate Professor of Accounting at Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) Annandale Campus, was selected for the 2019 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards (OFA).   

Since 1987 the OFA has recognized faculty at Virginia’s institutions of higher learning who exemplify the highest standards of scholarship, teaching, mentoring, community service and research.  This award is the most esteemed honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. Approximately 12 winners are selected each year from campuses large and small, from two- and four-year institutions. The list of winners for 2019 can be found on the SCHEV website. Mitchell is the only community college faculty winner this year for the state, and the first accounting professor in 25 years to receive the award.   

Mitchell took a circuitous route to teaching and to the accounting profession. She started her freshman year at the University of Georgia as a Dance major and had every intention of becoming a professional dancer – a ballerina, in fact. But, after an injury derailed her aspirations, she switched majors and went on to graduate from UGA’s Terry College of Business and Honors Program where she earned a B.B.A. in Management Information Systems and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She is a now Certified Internal Auditor with a M.S. in Accountancy from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce. Mitchell also earned a graduate certificate in e-Learning, and will graduate from George Mason University in the spring with a M.Ed. in Instructional Design Technology. 

Mitchell is no stranger to competition and contests. She is a former Miss Greenville and was a second runner up in the Miss South Carolina Pageant. She also shines brightly in the classroom.

Mitchell is one of the most sought-after accounting professors at NOVA, where she earned a reputation as a compassionate instructor who helps students develop professionally and technically. Mitchell has taught Principles of Accounting I and II and Auditing courses on-campus, hybrid, and online since 2008. Impressively, many NOVA students choose to major in accounting after taking one of her classes. She is a catalyst for transformative learning experiences that focus on the technical skills of the profession, as well as the “soft skills” that are essential for students to succeed. 

Prior to joining NOVA, Mitchell was a senior auditor with Ernst & Young’s (EY) Business Risk Services practice in Miami, where she audited some of Florida’s largest public companies. When her husband, a former Coast Guard officer, was relocated to Washington, DC, Mitchell’s accomplishments and background allowed her to launch a new career, teaching at NOVA.

Mitchell ’s teaching philosophy is built on three core values: honor, opportunity and professionalism. She is always searching for new ways to help students grow, whether that’s incorporating a virtual field trip from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) to help students learn about the various career opportunities in accounting, or offering resume and social media presence guidance to all of her students, past and present. Mitchell is a firm believer in the power of networks and connection. She created a LinkedIn learning community of her former and current students to share ideas, job opportunities, and resources related to the accounting profession. She has advised over 300 students on academic and career aspirations and she has written recommendation letters for transfer applications, scholarships, jobs, SGA nominations and student ambassador applications for over 250 students.

Outside of the classroom, Mitchell provides opportunities for students to become aware and more knowledgeable of the accounting profession as they prepare themselves for their future careers. Dozens of Mitchell’s former accounting students are currently working in the Big Four accounting firms, as well as regional and local accounting firms and Fortune 500 companies.

“My goal is to open students’ eyes to what a career in accounting can do for them, and instill in them the importance of accounting in any business role. I always tell my students that I hope that one day they will find a job where on Monday mornings, they are excited to jump out of bed and eager to get to work! That is how I feel about being a teacher – it’s one the best decisions I have ever made. I found my true professional passion, and it wasn’t what I thought it would be,” says Mitchell. 

Mitchell is also active in professional and community organizations. She is a past President of the Washington, DC, Chapter of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), and she served on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Society of CPAs (VSCPA). Mitchell was a founding advisor for the NOVA National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) Chapter, the first community college chapter to earn the Society’s highest distinction, the Platinum STAR Award.  Mitchell has also has been an adjunct professor of accounting at George Mason University since 2009. In addition to her teaching and service activities, she is a co-author of the first edition textbook, College Accounting, for John Wiley & Sons. She is also a highly sought-after public speaker, regionally and nationally, on instructional design in accounting courses. 

It’s all part and parcel of Mitchell’s quest for educational and professional excellence. “I choose my experiences carefully, so I can say without hesitation that every minute I spend outside of the classroom is a minute spent enhancing my ability to deliver world-class teaching that goes beyond technical learning outcomes. I educate, I connect students with people, programs, and scholarships, and I help my students forge career paths and seize opportunities.” 

With this year’s recognition, Mitchell becomes the 14th NOVA professor to receive this prestigious award. Previous NOVA recipients of the OFA include Callan Bentley, assistant professor of geology at NOVA (2015), and Dr. Margaret Leary, professor of information technology and director of NOVA’s Cybersecurity Program (2017).

The 2019 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards ceremony will take place on March 7 at a luncheon at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va. 

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About Northern Virginia Community College: The largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.

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