Tapiwa Manjengwa ’18

Numbers have inspired Tapiwa Manjengwa since he was a youngster in Zimbabwe, Africa.

But those numbers weren’t the ones he found in times tables or, later, mathematical computations for algebra, geometry, or trigonometry. Instead, Manjengwa, an accounting prodigy, was drawn to tabulating assets and liabilities, credits and debits—a passion so deep it steered his decision to travel from Africa to Decorah, Iowa, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting and management.

“I have always loved accounting and business,” he says. “I was good at math, but to me that felt like just calculating numbers. With accounting, I felt there were other variables involved, like the ability to link the numbers to business practices.”

Manjengwa arrived at Luther in 2014 by way of Waterford Kamhlaba United World College, Southern Africa (Swaziland), where he studied mathematics, business, and management, as well as played soccer. “Luther had a pure accounting program, and I already knew people here who spoke highly of it,” he recalls. “I thought Decorah was beautiful, and I appreciated the small size of my accounting classes.” He also felt an immediate connection with his host family, Carol and Dennis Tack. “We still keep in touch,” he says.

By senior year, Manjengwa had completed two successful internships with Ernst and Young in Minneapolis. The first, designed for underrepresented minorities, allowed him to spend the summer of his sophomore year rotating through different operations, including audit, tax, and advisory. During the second, the following summer, he spent more time learning the nuts and bolts of the audit process.

But it wasn’t all computers and spreadsheets for this hardworking student. While at Luther, Manjengwa mentored students back home in Zimbabwe via Skype and took on leadership roles in the college’s International Students and Allies Association, Entrepreneurship Club, and Student Senate. To top it all off, this year the Iowa Society of CPAs recognized him with its Outstanding Accounting Student Award.

Manjengwa’s future seems equally bright. This September he joined the audit staff at Ernst and Young in Minneapolis, where he will audit client accounts and test controls. He has also begun studying for the CPA exam, with hopes to stay in the U.S. and focus on public accounting.

“I have always strived to be inquisitive, stay open-minded, and work well with others,” he says. “I felt Luther promoted and supported all those things. In short, the college has been good, very good to me.”