Category Archives: Student Life

extracurricular activites, UT sports and other campus events, student organizations, recreation, etc.

Accounting Practicum: The Class that Gives Back

My co-bloggers Ally and Xinmiao have talked about how as MPAs, we do get various opportunities to give back to the community and work with/for not-for-profits. This semester, I am taking a course, which allows me to do just those. Yes, UT has an accounting class that is solely committed to using our accounting knowledge to serve others.

ACC 384 or ACC 366P is the Accounting Practicum class that can be taken by undergraduate and graduate students at McCombs. The class has been offered at UT for six years and has allowed students to become volunteer tax preparers at low-income neighborhoods.

UT partners with Community Tax Centers, a local not-for-profit organization under Foundation Communities. It has partnered with the IRS to implement the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for low income filers. Students taking the class are required to complete at least 55 hours of volunteer service as tax preparers at various Community Tax Centers from January until mid-April. Shifts can be as long as six hours per day.

This past weekend, we took the basic training to become preparers. We learned to navigate the tax preparation software that is being used for the program. We also worked on various cases and scenarios that we might encounter as volunteers and how we can effectively use the IRS guidebooks in helping clients with various tax issues and preparing their returns. Next Friday, we will have our intermediate training to become equipped in handling more complicated tax issues and preparation. The class requires that we take the certification tests after each training to assure that we have sufficient knowledge to do our volunteer work well. Continue reading Accounting Practicum: The Class that Gives Back

A Stand

Lady Justice

Most people that know me hopefully see me as jovial for the most part. I pray I am slow to anger and generally cheerful. Every once in a while, though, I see something that upsets me.

Last week I read a story about a girl in Philadelphia that angered me. I am truly irate. My jaws were sore on Saturday morning from clenching my teeth all day Thursday and Friday. Even after trying to give myself some time to cool down, I am certain that I can’t. See, this little girl was denied a kidney transplant because she was mentally disabled, and I cannot keep silent about that. It’s a blatant slap in the face of civil rights.

Why is this important to MPAs? I have said on several occasions that MPAs, because of our role in society, need to be civil role models as well as corporate role models. That is, we need to go vote, volunteer, etc. Our actions need to reflect the values we hold. It would be hard to look up to someone in the boardroom when you knew that that person was slime when he left the office.

For me, this is no exception. It would be difficult for me to stand by passively on a topic too close to my heart with such a responsibility on my shoulders. So here it goes:

Amelia Rivera

Amelia Rivera is three years old and has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. She needs a kidney transplant within a year, to live. However, a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (“CHOP”) told her parents that she could not receive a kidney transplant there because she was “mentally retarded” and because of her “quality of life.” More upsetting is the fact that when her parents told the doctor that they would try to find a donor on their own, the doctor insisted that he still would not perform the transplant.

This is clearly discrimination against those with mental disabilities. Even while I am cautious to go to an extreme on this issue, it seems that there was no other rationale from this doctor to deny this child her right to live. Had several other reasons been given for this child to be denied her kidney, I may have been more understanding. As it is, I am not at all understanding. Continue reading A Stand

SOPA: what it means to this MPA blogger

Google's response to SOPA

If you’ve visited Wikipedia, Google, or various other websites yesterday, you probably noticed their blackout/anti-SOPA messages and warnings. Before I go any further, let me just say that this blog entry is an attempt to explain SOPA in the most colloquial way that I can. I realize that there may be some missing pieces in my explanation.

SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act, which, on the surface seems to be a worthy cause. In theory, this act attacks something that is actually a real problem, internet piracy. The word piracy has a negative connotation and thusly initial public response would be that it is harmful. Haven’t we always been taught that plagiarism is wrong? Sure, the surface goal of SOPA is to stop foreign sites from providing users with pirated material and that is something the general population should at least try to support. And why companies such as Time Warner ARE supporting the bill. But, the repercussions of the bill would be far worse than just having to wait an extra week for the episode of your favorite show to be up on Hulu.

SOPA would have the biggest effect on any sites that use user-generated content. This may be why Wikipedia is so enthralled in the anti-SOPA movement. Other sites include Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube. Of course, this bill will not criminalize posting YouTube videos, per say, but it will hold YouTube to a new level of accountability and make it far more difficult to share and watch videos online. SOPA gives the Attorney General the ability to act against infringing websites without a trial or a court hearing and with that comes the ability to take advantage of this power. This would potentially cause more harm than the good that comes from intellectual property protection. Of course, SOPA would not go to the depths of some internet censorship such as that in China, however in practicality, it will have similar repercussions.

There have been attempts to stop piracy in the past- for example there are bills that have already passed that do exactly what SOPA is claiming to do and so, some believe that SOPA is unnecessary.

Of course, I am not supporting plagiarism or internet piracy. I go to a University with very high ethics and I plan to always stand by the honor code. However, I believe SOPA would do more harm than good and I hope that everyone takes a minute or two to get educated about the bill.

If this at all resonates with you, then please, do some research and find out how you can make a difference. Google has a few things to say about the bill and check out this full page ad that ran in the NYTimes a few months ago.

Please keep in mind that these are my own personal views, and may or may not reflect the opinion of McCombs or the University.

Heads-Up on Recruiting Season…

Snoopy as Joe Cool and Woodstock: the epitome of charisma.

As the Spring semester commences, intense recruiting begins for third-year MPAs. While technical knowledge is crucial, it’s interpersonal skills that make or break a recruit on this field. Keep in mind, even if you are interested in a firm, that firm is not going to be interested in you unless they perceive you are interested in it. In other words, this is not merely an “avoid losing” situation; it is imperative that you demonstrate to recruiters that you are interested in them.

Why am I bringing this up? (1) A recent study by MIT and (2) two commercials that just irk the hell out of me.


CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on charisma. What charisma actually is is still inexplicable. However, it is undeniable that really successful people have it…whatever it is. (Even the etymology of the word comes from the Greek word for “gift.”) Notwithstanding, researchers at MIT devised what was called a “sociometer” which, as best as an accountant can explain, tried to measure the energy that one radiated. Movement of the hands, inflections of the voice, etc… contributed to giving off more energy.

What’s the point? The point is that MPAs have a LOT of charisma. Recruiting is not the time to be nervous or shy, unless you want to be overlooked.  Without being overbearing, use your personality, listen genuinely, and become interested. This will help make recruiting successful for you. Continue reading Heads-Up on Recruiting Season…

Carpe Diem

The signature motto of The University of Texas is “What starts here changes the world.” When I first came to UT, I felt that this was just a showy saying with little substance behind it. I am starting to realize, however, that this statement is truly the cornerstone of our university.

When most students decide to continue their education at Texas, they do so not only because they want a great education, but  because they want to matter in the world. The University of Texas gives them the appropriate means to accomplish their goals.

Every student I have met here wants to matter in the world. They are all extremely ambitious people with big goals for their futures. The majority of MPA students take on leadership roles in organizations on campus, participate in company networking sessions, sign up for interviews and mock-interviews, and work hard to get excellent grades in their coursework to set themselves up for a fantastic job. UT students invest their time and energy in things that will give them the opportunity to matter in the world.

I continually share with my parents all of the things McCombs and the MPA program offer to maximize my future opportunities. My mom said, “Ally, it’s a wonderful program and it is great that you are focused on your future, but don’t neglect to focus on the present and enjoy this time of your life.” It wasn’t until August of this past year that I understood the true meaning of what she was telling me.

The first thing I understood about focusing on the present was that I would only be in college at UT with all of my friends for a finite period of time, whereas I will be working forever. It only makes sense to take advantage of everything the University offers while you are a student: going to football and basketball games, attending campus events, and spending lots of time with friends. Continue reading Carpe Diem