Archives for Student Life

Thankful for Home

Thanksgiving brought a busy half week of engaging with family and avoiding anything explicitly school related. I returned to Austin late Saturday night, woke up Sunday and went to Starbucks to begin my last tax research memo!! As I turned on my computer and logged onto the Starbucks page, I found a fascinating video entitled Ripe for Change.

Since I am an expert procrastinator, the topic of anything but tax research caught my eye. Since I am from California, this topic of food production hits close to home. And as we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, food seemed to be an appropriate topic. Watching the video, I found that the issues it addresses within the food industry are highly relevant to us as accountants.

One such issue is regulation. The tensions between the need for regulation and its burden have been prevalent recently, and are particularly relevant in the financial industry that many of us will enter from the MPA program.

In the documentary as multiple farmers comment on the same trend, for example mechanical picking, we see that there is not always a clear cut way to respond to the availability of new technology or situations; we even see that sometimes the alleged problem is not as obvious as it seems.

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Run Austin!

My dog Rosie and I at the Dallas Turkey Trot sporting our rivalry day spirit!

Whenever I go home to Dallas for Thanksgiving, I love to run the YMCA Turkey Trot. The Dallas Turkey Trot hosts about 35,000 energetic runners, joggers and walkers alike. This particular year, the Turkey Trot made an attempt for a world record for the most people in turkey costumes in one place.

I love this race because it’s the perfect thanksgiving tradition: burning calories before you eat your weight in delicious thanksgiving cuisine.  It’s also a lot of fun because of all the college rivalries. Those who didn’t come in turkey outfits came in all of their collegiate paraphernalia. There are fight songs from all sorts of schools going around the crowd, but non louder than our very own “Texas Fight!” fight song.

I have been running since my junior year of high school, when I joined my school’s track and field team. I was atrocious, but I loved the freedom I felt while running. I continued to run throughout high school, and love to run recreationally in college.

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How to bleed burnt orange

Being part of the MPA has many amazing benefits; one of the greatest is being a part of the larger UT community. The University of Texas at Austin is a place of tradition. Our traditions date back the university’s founding in 1883. I feel it is to every student’s benefit to know all the wonderful traditions our university has. Getting caught up in the spirit of the school is one of the best parts of the experience at UT.

How the tower is lit after winning a national championship game

The Tower

The first thing any prospective UT student needs to know about is the tower. The tower is campus’ best known landmark and symbol. It can be seen from almost anywhere in Austin, and as cheesy as this sounds, I get a swell of happiness in my stomach every time I see it.  It is usually lit up in white at night, except on special occasions. We light it up in orange for academic and athletic achievements and it even has a special configuration of lights for when UT wins a national championship.

The tower also has a clock on all four sides and chimes every fifteen minutes. At 12:50 three times a week, Tom Anderson (the university’s carilloneur) plays songs using the bells. He has even taken requests before.  One time I heard him play Katy Perry’s teenage dream and just this week he was playing “Deck the Halls”.

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Joe Paterno and Responsibilities of an MPA Student

I rarely post a very direct blog. Usually, my intent is to keep this column very effervescent, but this incident has left me very distraught. Perplexed even. See, it has been very difficult for me to reconcile my emotions over this event because the line of what I deem right and wrong is now hazy.

Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in FBS with 409 victories, was recently fired by Penn State for failing to report an incident involving former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.

If you have not heard, the winningest coach in D-1 football, Joe Paterno, was fired amidst a sex scandal involving an assistant coach. Paterno was allegedly notified of a sexual assault incident in 2002, reported it to Penn State officials, but failed to take further action. The assistant coach, in the meantime, had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct for years and was even seen on the Penn State campus weeks before the scandal emerged, despite being relieved of official business nearly a decade ago.

The rub is that Paterno was fired and this angered many Penn State fanatics. Paterno is not accused of any actual misconduct; however, he was the head coach, overlooked the program, and as a result, is at least partially to blame for the scandal….right?

How does this relate to MPA? There are numerous times when certain people in a firm engage in poor practice and put the jobs of many employees in jeopardy. Nevertheless, even those who engage in poor practice in a firm are usually on a larger team and whatever work they do should be reviewed multiple times.

Yes, I said that: someone did something unethical, it was reviewed several times and it still got through.

The question is how does this happen? Are those who let such actions occur necessarily bad? I don’t think that Joe Paterno is bad…

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Challenge Yourself and Keep Giving Thanks

A student in my valuations class taking diligent notes and having fun while doing it!

As I come back from of the Thanksgiving holiday, I realize it is almost the end of my first semester here.  As one of my professors said, it takes forever to get to Halloween, but once Halloween comes, the rest of the semester flies by.

I wanted to talk a little about one of the specific classes I am taking right now.  It is my Valuations class in the finance department.  Finance is not one of my strong suits, I will be one of the first to admit that, but I know its great importance in the accounting field and more in the business world.  I took an intro to finance in undergrad and again in an accelerated course here at UT.  I was very ambitious in making my schedule and decided to take the accelerated valuations class for the second half of the semester.  During orientation, we had a faculty panel when several professors gave the advice to challenge yourself, take the hardest classes you could and the classes in which you are least confident.  Needless to say, I took this advice and registered for valuations even though it was not a requirement for my degree.  (Other advice I was given included to take as many accounting and finance classes you can, as well as to take courses outside of your track i.e. tax classes if you are in the audit track and audit classes if you are in the tax track in order to broaden and deepen your knowledge.)

As the first half of my semester went along, my intro to finance class proved to be a lot more difficult than I had imagined.  The whole time I was thinking – what am I going to do in valuations?!  Why did I ever think I could do more advanced finance when I cannot even do this?!  I ended up doing fine in finance, but let’s just say, not with flying colors.

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