According to Romaine Haffenden, there’s no problem that a hot, fluffy stack of pancakes can’t solve. That’s what the Certified Public Accounting major proved when he and a fellow resident assistant (RA) took 30 students from NYU’s Founders Hall to IHOP for a free event they named Pancakes and Feelings. “It’s a chance for the residents to talk to each other, bond, and vent about their current problems (e.g., exams, making friends, relationships),” Romaine says. “The other RA and I provide advice when we can.”
But when he isn’t doling out words of wisdom to underclassmen, he’s busy preparing himself to enter the exciting field of forensic accounting, which involves gathering financial evidence to use against a person in a criminal court case. He has built up quite a body of knowledge over his four years at NYU, enough so that he graduated this spring with a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree that will allow him to go for his CPA license during the summer. With those credentials Romaine hopes to land a job on the forensic accounting squad at the US Department of Justice, where he interned last summer, and eventually rise in the ranks of the organization to become a special agent for the FBI.
It’s a lofty goal, but Romaine, who came to NYU as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), an NYU–New York State joint initiative designed to help students from families whose incomes fall below a certain level attend NYU, feels he is more than prepared for it. In fact, Romaine, who minored in Public Policy and Management, feels it is his duty to use his accounting and investigative skills to help others in need: He has tutored young refugees from war-torn countries in math, has helped lead criminal justice workshops for teenage inmates on Rikers Island, and has spent time with a Holocaust survivor in his 90s.
After graduation, Romaine is positioned to continue to use his forensic accounting skills at Ernst & Young, a firm that has a fraud investigative practice. What would he tell prospective Opportunity Program students like himself? “I want to encourage everyone to take advantage of everything that comes their way, dream big, and see where an NYU education can lead them.”