Determined to Succeed

November 17, 2023


Dorian Martin ’06

The Calvettis at Texas A&M University Mays Business School – CityCentre in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications)

Jim Calvetti ’91 creates a scholarship to support first-generation college students’ quest to earn accounting degrees.

Jim Calvetti ’91 was determined to become a successful accountant. Realizing that to do so would require completing his bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University, the then college sophomore packed all of his worldly belongings into his 1979 Ford Thunderbird and — with $700 in his wallet — journeyed from his home state of Wyoming to Bryan/College Station in 1988.

That decision proved to be pivotal. The first-generation college student developed a strong academic foundation and network at Texas A&M that proved useful in building a stellar career.

Now looking back gratefully at his journey, one of the founding partners of Calvetti Ferguson is committed to supporting other aspiring first-generation students who want to study accounting at Mays Business School. To that end, Calvetti and his wife, Kelly ’93, created a scholarship fund through the Texas A&M Foundation. “It’s near and dear to my heart. I wish I had more scholarship opportunities when I was in school,” he said. “I worked full-time to put myself through school and I truly appreciated the scholarships that I received. I didn’t want to take on debt to go to school—and I want to help other students follow in my footsteps in this regard.”


Calvetti’s interest in pursuing a business career began in high school. In addition to taking an accounting class that piqued his interest, the teenager also was active in the school’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter, including serving as president.

When it came time for college, Calvetti made the logical decision to enroll in the University of Wyoming, located 50 miles from his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming. “When choosing a major, I was deciding between broadcast radio or accounting,” he said. “My parents guided me toward accounting as incomes in broadcast radio were pretty low. I chose accounting and never looked back.

However, by the time he was a sophomore, he realized he needed to transfer to another university. “My decision to change schools was because at that time the Big 8 accounting firms didn’t interview at the University of Wyoming,” he recounted.

After learning about Texas A&M’s highly ranked accounting program, Calvetti traveled to College Station to visit the campus in the spring of 1988. “The business school was in the Blocker Building at the time. I remember walking down the hallway and they had these big wooden plaques of each of the Big 8 with their logos,” he said, noting that the signage felt like a good omen.

The university’s overall culture also felt like a good match. “Wyoming is an agriculture state and I had grown up around a ranch,” Calvetti explained. “Also, my dad served 38 years in the Army, so the military side of the university really resonated with me.

Believing that Aggieland was key to his future, Calvetti decided to roll the dice and make the move. He worked for a year to qualify for the cheaper state tuition rate and also pinched pennies while living with his childhood friend, Doug, who also moved to Texas to pursue higher education. “We couldn’t afford air conditioning when we moved into our first apartment in Bryan,” Calvetti said. “Our apartment had a vaulted ceiling on it. We opened the apartment’s top windows and the sliding glass door and put a fan in the door. That’s how we lived that first summer because we didn’t have enough money to pay for utilities.”


Looking back, Calvetti doesn’t regret his decisions at all. “The accounting coursework was very challenging, and the professors were very competent, open and engaging,” he said, adding that he formed strong bonds with several of them, including Dr. James Benjamin and Dr. Ben Welch.

To afford school, Calvetti was a full-time receptionist for Texas A&M’s Student Counseling Center, which at the time was located in the YMCA Building. He often worked the evening shift, unlocking the building’s doors for students who had after-hours counseling sessions. As a result, he often was on duty when Dr. John Koldus, Texas A&M’s legendary vice president for Student Affairs, was leaving his office, which was located in the same building. The pair developed a close bond — and Koldus made sure that he was on stage to congratulate Calvetti when he received his diploma.

Despite his busy schedule and tight budget, Calvetti made time to take part in campus activities, including serving as a T-Camp counselor and orientation leader, and joining the Accounting Honor Society. He also was a regular at Aggie football and baseball games. “My nextdoor neighbor dated a girl who worked in the ticket office, so it was a nice perk because my friend pulled tickets for football games,” he remembered. “We always sat in the front row of the second deck on the 45-yard line.”

The accounting major also enjoyed country western dancing. He has fond memories of dancing while a then unknown Garth Brooks performed at Bryan’s Graham Central Station. That evening cutting the floorboards proved to be a pivotal point in his life. A few months later, he was dancing with an incoming transfer student during T-Camp’s country night in 1990. “She said, ‘We’ve danced together before,’” he recounted, adding that they eventually pieced together that they had met during Brooks’ event. Calvetti and Kelly, who was a kinesiology major, realized that they were increasingly in step and were married in 2003.


After graduation, Calvetti joined Pricewaterhouse’s (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) Houston office, where he advanced professionally during his six-year-plus tenure with the company. He then became divisional chief financial officer for Petroleum Geoservices (PGS) Data Management, an international oilfield data management company. Calvetti was part of a team that grew the business, which eventually was sold to Haliburton.

After briefly working for the industry giant, Calvetti returned to Petroleum Geoservices (PGS Data Management’s parent company) as senior vice president for business development for three years. In that role, he worked on international mergers and acquisitions, which required him to travel 60% of each year. However, his priorities changed when he was in Dubai working on a $250 million oil and gas deal and learned he had missed hearing his youngest son’s first words. “That made me realize that my calling is to be a dad,” Calvetti said. “I decided I needed to be home and raise my family.”

Soon after making that decision, Calvetti reconnected with Jason Ferguson ’94, who Calvetti had hired at PGS Data Management. Ferguson was also ready for a fresh start, so the pair joined forces in 2003 to found Calvetti Ferguson, a Texas-based regional CPA firm.


Throughout the years, Texas A&M has remained a central part of the Calvetti’s lives. Two of their three sons earned their degrees from the university — Kyle ’20 in construction sciences and Dylan ’22 in engineering. And while their youngest son, Cody, didn’t attend the university, he has a deep love for all things Aggie.

Calvetti is especially excited about Mays Business School’s commitment to becoming the preeminent public business school in the nation. The Woodlands, Texas resident, who is involved with the James Benjamin Department of Accounting as an advisory board member and a regular guest lecturer, hopes that the scholarship he and his wife created will help the department attract and retain talented accounting students. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If you’re not striving to be the best in your field, then you’re aiming too low,” he said. “There’s no reason with the resources that we have at Texas A&M — through being a state university and by being backed by a very powerful former student group — there’s no reason why we can’t achieve preeminence.”

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If you’re not striving to be the best in your field, then you’re aiming too low.” – Jim Calvetti ’91