Alumnus, Durran Dunn, Makes Strides as CPA, Atlanta Braves Sprinter and Community Leader
Mon, 12/19/2022 - 11:41am | By: Bailey Harris and Makenzie Crampton
While all University of Southern Mississippi (USM) business students have the opportunity to earn their wings during their time as a Golden Eagle, not all can say they have rightfully earned the ability to don a suit fit for a superhero.
CPA by day and Atlanta Braves’ sprinter - The Freeze - by night, alumnus Durran Dunn is fearlessly racing to success, taking on the world with incredible speed and investing in the betterment of his local community in the process.
Dunn graduated from USM in 2005 and now resides in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife, Marie, and their three children. He has had a successful career as a CPA and currently serves as an executive and managing director for Grant Thornton LLP, the seventh-largest public accounting firm in the world. Dunn has been recognized as a leader in his field with expertise in audit, finance, and accounting for publicly traded and privately held companies.
His work spans multiple industries, with a focus on media, sports, and entertainment, as well as technology and manufacturing. His unwavering commitment and hard work have resulted in a series of successful career highlights, most recently being recognized as a “40 Under 40” professional by both CPA Practice Advisor in 2020 and The Black CPA Centennial and NABA Inc. in 2021.
Dunn’s journey to become a CPA started long before declaring his major at USM. While attending Jamaica College high school in Kingston, Jamaica, he declared his concentration in business courses and later uncovered his talents for accounting with the assistance of some of his most influential instructors. While he proved to be accelerated in the classroom, he was also quick on his feet, demonstrating an unparalleled athletic ability. He could do it all, and he was just getting started.
After garnering national interest from several colleges that offered both athletic and academic scholarships, Dunn confidently selected USM with plans to pursue his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in accounting. While at Southern Miss, Dunn seemed to make the impossible possible — taking up to 18 credit hours per semester, all while running track and field, playing defensive back on the football team his senior year, serving as the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and being a proud member of both Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society.
Dunn witnessed the construction of McCarty Hall and was among the first to live in the dormitory, moving in during his sophomore year. While living on campus, he and his friends had a weekly tradition of eating at Seymour’s Grill on Sundays, Dunn’s meal of choice being a chicken finger sandwich that he and his then roommate, Shane, still reminisce over today.
When reflecting on his time as a student, he shared that all of his professors impacted him in unique ways, mentioning Drs. Gwen Pate, Roderick Posey, and Charles Jordan, all by name. He went on to share that some of his favorite classes included managerial accounting, management information systems, and the legal environment of business.
“My professors made business and accounting classes fun. They were all outstanding educators,” said Dunn. “They had a strong commitment to the profession and cared about the well-being of students. They were understanding of our needs, whatever they may have been — that was especially important to me given my schedule between classes, practices, and competitions.”
As his final year at the University came to an end, Dunn was offered career opportunities with several organizations, including the Big Four Accounting Firms and Citigroup. He accepted a position with KPMG and within his first two years with the company, passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. He was later recognized as the 2007 KPMG National Chairman Award recipient and has since worked in leadership roles at several corporate organizations, such as Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS), Newell Brands, and Graphic Packaging International.
While relocating to Atlanta started out purely as a career move, he has serendipitously found an outlet to showcase his extraordinary athletic talents. In the time he spends away from his professional endeavors, you can find Dunn sporting his spandex suit at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball Team.
He has been zooming by fans between innings as part of RaceTrac’s “Beat The Freeze” promotion since 2018. The cool-footed sprinter gives fans the opportunity to race him from foul pole to foul pole with a generous head start before soaring past them at the last possible second and winning the race.
As a professional sprinter with the Atlanta Braves, Dunn recently added a World Champion title to his resumé after the Braves won the MLB World Series in 2021. Dunn is humble when discussing the distinctive role, sharing that it is an honor for him.
“It is a unique opportunity and experience that I am beyond grateful for. I enjoy entertaining the fans by being The Freeze.”
The Freeze has become a well-known addition to the team and has gained quite a large fan base, now with his own miniature bobblehead and close to 40.6K followers on Twitter alone. He is also a USA Track and Field athlete and competes in local, regional, national, and international competitions that include masters track and field, long-distance running, and race walking for athletes 25 years of age and older.
Dunn has represented the United States at world competitions on multiple occasions, including as recently at the 2022 World Masters Athletics Outdoor Championships in Finland this summer, where he was a double-medalists in the 100m and 200m.