Graduate & Professional Studies, Marquette Business

On the case: Meghan Hayes combines love of forensics and accounting

Growing up in South Elgin, Illinois, Meghan Hayes watched a lot of TV crime shows. “Criminal Minds,” “Law & Order” and “Bones” appealed to her analytical mind and, unlike the video games she also loved, they were an interest she could share with her mom. “It was kind of a bonding experience for us,” she said.  

When Hayes, who graduated with her Master’s in Accounting Analytics in 2024, landed a credit-earning internship at a local accounting firm in her senior year of high school, she enjoyed the work. It seemed like a stable career choice and, with several accountants in her extended family, it felt familiar. Setting aside her crime-solving ambitions, she enrolled at Marquette in August 2019 as an accounting and finance major. 

Things were going fine, but there was a glitch. “I was originally accounting and finance, but I quickly found out I was not fond of the finance part necessarily,” Hayes says with a laugh. 

As she pondered her options, a chance encounter brought an “aha” moment. She was at a “Meet the Firms” career event when she spotted two people from the FBI, and was puzzled — why were they talking to accounting and finance majors? She struck up a conversation with them about forensic accounting.  

That’s when Hayes started envisioning ways to blend her fascination with criminal investigation, her burgeoning interest in analytics and her accounting degree. It didn’t have to be only about income taxes and audits. “With an accounting degree, you can mold it into anything you want to do,” Hayes says. 

Hayes decided to pursue a master’s in accounting analytics because it would help her do just that. The MSAA is unique in that it mixes accounting, business and computer science courses, creating an even bigger springboard for her varied interests — including forensics, which she hasn’t ruled out. 

Hayes completes her master’s this spring, has lined up a full-time job at Deloitte in the fall, and oozes enthusiasm about her chosen career. Faculty members describe her as someone who has squeezed virtually everything she could from her experience at Marquette: three internships, president of a student organization, a faculty-led study abroad experience, tutoring, graduate assistant work, the Accounting Internship Early Recruitment Program and more — all while maintaining a high level of academic performance. 

“She definitely struck me as someone who’s driven,” says accounting instructor Rich Tobin. He first noticed Hayes when he’d arrive on campus so early that few others were around — except one student getting into her car to go somewhere. He later learned it was Hayes heading to her internship job early “to bang out a little homework.”  

But there’s more to Hayes than her drive, Tobin says. As faculty adviser to Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for accounting, finance, analytics and IT majors, he came to know Hayes when she applied for membership and later became president. He watched her grow her confidence, develop leadership skills and cultivate a high-functioning team. He credits her with creating a culture of camaraderie in what could be a competitive, pressure-cooker environment — and at a time when COVID was creating obstacles to social interaction.  

“I’ve had students that were hard workers, I’ve had students that were social, I’ve had students that were good leaders and ones that were interesting,” Tobin says. “It’s rare to have a student that is all those things. That is what makes Meghan unique.” 

Beta Alpha Psi “really pushed me out of my shell,” Hayes says. “I’m now significantly more comfortable with leading.” She’s particularly proud that during her term as president, the team raised $15,500 from the organization’s yearly live auction, a then-record amount, to fund learning, service and scholarship programs.  

But other experiences, too —  internships, mentoring other students, a weeklong course of studies in Marburg, Germany, and more — have been just as important to her. 

“I once heard the quote that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” Hayes says. “So I decided to try moving from room to room and, see, OK is there something more I can learn here? 

“Marquette’s slogan is ‘Be the difference,’ and I took that to heart early on,” Hayes adds. “By saying yes to a lot of opportunities and showing up and giving it my best effort, I feel I am making a difference in some way.”