Category Archives: Student Life

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

Greetings from Chicago!

Downtown Chicago!

Greetings from the Windy City!

I’m writing from a friend’s couch in downtown Chicago, enjoying the warmth of the indoors. This weekend, I am away from dear Austin to attend a three-day-long writing conference hosted by AWP. It’s going really well. And when not sitting in on panels entitled “Beyond Pulp – The Futuristic and Fantastic as Literary Fiction” and “Wilderness Writing: Theory and Practice,” I’m working on some Excel assignments for my ITAC (Information Technology Accounting Control) class, where we complete tutorials, create our own macros, and use conditional formatting to perform data analysis. I’m also wrapping up a work paper for an internal audit project which has my audit team working closely with the Office of the City Auditor (OCA). It’s a great, though at the moment overwhelming, combination of all sorts of activity.

I can speak a little further about my ITAC assignment in that it’s proving amazingly useful towards the work I’m currently doing for my internship at Greenlights. I am working with our donor database and trying to get good data from our archives to provide the development director with information. Learning about conditional formatting (IF functions and whatnot) and macros has really helped me finesse my approach to data analysis. I’m hoping by the end of the internship to produce a macros for the organization that sorts out information about our donors that will be really valuable for planning. Continue reading Greetings from Chicago!

MPA Council takes Project 2012

The River City Youth Foundation Success Center, where we spent our morning volunteering

Just last Saturday,MPA Council joined approximately 2000 other volunteers to reach out and improve the greater Austin community for Project 2012, UT’s largest day of service. What an experience it was!

Here’s a summary of my memorable day: I had to wake up quite early (especially for a college student) in order to report for duty with council members. We, along with the other morning shift volunteers, were then welcomed and thanked for our help by multiple local politicians. We also were lucky enough to watch the Dove Springs Middle School cheerleading squad perform for us! It was definitely the highlight of the ceremony.

We then went to our volunteer location, River City Youth Foundation, in south Austin. They had a multitude of tasks for us to complete to improve the facility for Austin’s youth. Some members and I were responsible for repainting the interior of the complex, while other members helped re-mulch the trails by shoveling mulch into a wheelbarrow. Continue reading MPA Council takes Project 2012

MPA: My Personal Anecdote

Why MPA?

Growing up, my “dream job” changed weekly. Like most kids, I fluctuated between  the typical dream professions (as well as some atypical ones): princess, astronaut, lawyer, doctor, marine biologist, plumber, etc. The bottom line of all my decisions was that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.

Funnily enough, the one thing I did not want to be was an accountant. I come from a family of government accountants, and I remember seeing the look on people’s faces when I told them what my family did for a living and who they worked for. It was not a look that indicated they thought my family was making a positive difference in the world.

It wasn’t until I attended the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP- now called DYNAMC) here at McCombs, that I began to rethink my views. It was at this camp that I realized accounting was a field that actually interested me. What especially intrigued me was a small tax seminar on filing 1040’s led by Professor Kristina Zvinakis. It was at this camp that I realized that accounting, specifically tax, was exactly the career I was looking for as it satisfied all of the qualities I wanted out of a career:

    • To have work that I find truly challenging and rewarding
    •  To be held to a higher ethical standards than most professionals are
    •  To help people by saving them money that they can use to improve their own lives or others’ lives
    •  To save people time so they can use it to do things they truly love
This here explains my reason for deciding Texas MPA: the people are awesome!

Why Texas MPA?

It was at ACAP that I was first introduced to the integrated MPA program. It seemed too good to be true: a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting in five years!

To be completely honest (and my family and high-school friends can attest to this), I never saw myself attending UT until I attended ACAP. My family is from Washington, and I was always planning on out-of-state in order to escape the heat of Texas.

But when it came time to sit down and think about where I wanted to go to school, all roads lead to Austin. Where else could I get a top-rate education in the number one accounting program at in-state tuition rates? Nowhere, that’s where.

Texas MPA was a logical choice for me. I feel it’s the logical choice for everyone when deciding on where to pursue an accounting or business education. McCombs provides so much for its students: incredible faculty, knowledgeable academic advisors, and wonderful career advisors and services. On top of McCombs’ resources, every student has the resources of the entire university and city of Austin at their disposal.

In conclusion –it’s a splendid time to be a Texas MPA!

While you were Meme-ing…

…I was studying with Becker. It seems that the relaxed semester is impossible under my terms and lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and explains my hiatus from the blogging world for the past two weeks.

There is no shortage of stories though. Here is some recent Conversationalia from the past couple of weeks:


Texas to Host 2014 Menuhin Competition

The University of Texas will host the 2014 Menuhin Competition for violinists. It will be the first time the competition will be held in the North American continent. Read more about this in the Daily Texan’s article.

Yehudi Menuhin was born in America, but he spent most of his professional music career in the United Kingdom. He was a popular violinist during the 20th century, during which time recordings were available. My mom used to play a CD of Menuhin playing the Mozart violin concertos in the car. When you’re nine years’ old, you don’t particularly listen that closely. However, there was something about the last movement of Mozart’s fifth violin concerto that I just loved. I’m not sure if it was the sweet innocent opening theme or the somewhat raucous “Turkish” section in the middle, but this piece was my motivation for continuing to study the instrument throughout elementary school and high school, since it was only five Suzuki books away. (Otherwise, I’m not sure how much longer I would have lasted at the time…) Anyways, here’s Menuhin’s performance of that piece:


What I love about Austin is its entrepreneurial spirit. It’s awesome, and one of the great ways it’s exemplified is through the Trailer model. Here you save on fixed costs and experiment with your product in a small food trailer instead of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. One of my new favorites is PitaLicious on South Congress.

Why do I love it so much? Two reasons: the first is that the owner is Lebanese (where my great-grandparents emigrated from, thus earning extra points in my book) and serves kafta (which is a dish my siti loves to prepare for my brother and me when I visit El Paso). Second, and more substantially, is that the owner and his girlfriend have full-time jobs. (He’s an engineer, and she’s a nurse.)That’s right—they operate this food stand for fun. When talking to him, he told me that this was one of his passions and always wanted to do it. And that is what I love about Austin—the culture of doing things because you want to and taking some chances with life! PitaLicious is open on Thursday and Friday nights as well as the weekends. Follow your dreams.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of music, the University Orchestra—of which I have been a member of for my entire five years at Texas—is performing Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, “Pastorale,” on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. The piece is awesome, invoking a lot of imagery of nature and minimalism. This is, to me, one of the best pieces ever written—a true work of art—and a great piece to listen to even if you are not a hardcore classical music person. This is simply a must-hear.

Why I Chose MPA

UT Austin ribbonIt might be nice to get a perspective on why each of us chose to come to the MPA program.  I will give you my top 3 influences in my choosing the program, which may help you make you make a more informed decision for yourself.

1. The #1 rating – I know some say this is not the most important thing about the MPA program, and they are right, but it was definitely an important factor in my decision.  As others have expressed as well, I did not think I was going to be accepted into the program. It was more of a “reach” for me, but I figured why not?  I was more heavily considering all the other schools I got into because I figured it was a more realistic approach.  In the back of my mind though, I said to myself that if I got into UT, I would have a much more difficult decision to make.  That situation did come about and I did indeed have a tough decision.  Knowing that MPA is ranked the #1 graduate accounting program is a great distinction, but it is also indicative of all of the amazing opportunities that are available to MPA students.  I looked into why it is ranked that way, including the faculty, the career services, curriculum, and other factors.  These all showed me that the ranking was legitimate and the program is taken seriously.

2. Austin – When I mentioned to people I was considering coming to Austin, all I heard was, “Oh I hear it is so cool there!” or “Everyone loves it there!” or “Why are you going to Austin?”.  Besides that last point, which I think was just friends wondering why I was going all the way from New Jersey to Texas, everyone’s excitement over Austin got me so excited.  I came to visit in March before the program started, and got a feel for Austin.  Now, having lived here for a while, I can see why everyone loves it.  The vibe from all the people and all the activities really make it a unique place.  I trusted those people who told me that Austin is awesome, and I am glad that I did because they were right!

3. Variety of Courses – This was more of a detail that helped me distinguish the MPA program from other schools’ Master of Accounting programs.  I knew that since I was going to be in external audit for my full time job, I thought I would be on the Financial Reporting and Assurance Track at UT.  Then I looked into the actual courses I would have to and be allowed to take in that track.  I was so surprised by the amount of audit and more general electives that were offered, including internal audit, IT audit, government accounting, and standards in auditing.  Since I came into the program with the room to take a lot of electives, I definitely capitalized on this opportunity by taking interesting electives.  Also, a subset to this is that as an MPA student you have the opportunity to take courses abroad during the summer.  I did not study abroad as an undergrad so this seemed like an amazing option that I planned on taking advantage of.  (I am going to Hong Kong this summer and am very excited!)  Also, the courses given while abroad include topics geared towards international business and international accounting standards, which in this global economy, are very useful subjects.

I hope this helps you understand why I chose the program and can give you some insight and help for making your own decision.

Please leave comments or questions below!