Steve Carlson

M.Acc. '19

steve carlson outdoor photo

When certified financial planner Steve Carlson sold his business and retired in 2013, he did not expect to go back to college and start a second career. But after a few years of contemplation, that’s what he did.

In 2016, Carlson enrolled in the Master of Accounting program at NSU’s H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship. In 2018, after being nominated by his professors, he was awarded the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) scholarship.  

Scheduled to graduate in June 2019, Carlson plans to join a firm as a financial analyst. Carlson credits Nova Southeastern University with giving him a competitive edge in starting a second career and giving back to the community. Down the road, he hopes to “pay it back and pay it forward” by returning to NSU to teach.

“I’d like to take what I’ve learned in the industry and owning my own business and teach those skills to students so they can better adapt when they leave the classroom,” he says.

“After I retired, I thought deeply about what I wanted to do with the next half of my life. The starting point was getting an accounting degree. The area of accounting is challenging, and it also is an area of high demand.”

As a certified financial planner, Carlson operated his own business in Raleigh and Hendersonville, N.C., for more than 20 years.

“When I did retire, I was due for a vacation. I established my own practice after relocating to a state where I knew no one and had no natural market. I started with no clients. I had accomplished everything I wanted to do,” says Carlson, who moved to Florida to be closer to his parents.

“My primary motivation for going back to college was that I needed something to do with my time. I wanted something that was purposeful and that I could continue to do outside the area of financial services,” says Carlson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business in 1986 at Le Tourneau University in Longview, Texas.

Carlson started the accounting program “at ground zero” without formal education in that field. He excelled with the NSU advantage of faculty with experience in the field, support and scholarship assistance, and preparation for job opportunities.

“Because I did not have an accounting background, I wanted a program that was deep in fundamentals. NSU had a competitive master’s program and it was local, which was a defining point for me. I wanted to be able to attend classes in person, not just online. I felt like I had the talent to do well and I wanted to prove to myself that I could. This looked like the perfect opportunity for me,” he says.

“I’m very grateful for what I’ve learned at NSU and the knowledge of accounting I’ve gained in such a short time. The instructors made that happen with their input and their interest in seeing their students succeed. I genuinely believe that.”