Category Archives: Student Life

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

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!

Why I Live Strong

My friend Allie and I running the LiveSTRONG Marathon in Austin last year to spread awareness

At the very beginning of 2012, I joined Team LiveSTRONG. As a member of Team LiveSTRONG, I help raise awareness and raise funds to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Although I have never personally had to battle cancer, my life as still been affected by this disease.

To summarize my history with cancer, both my beloved Grandpa Jimbo and one of by best friends in elementary school, Bailey, ran out of time in their battles with cancer. After losing them, I guess I thought that cancer was done with me. That I could no longer be affected….but of course that could never happen.

In September, my dad found out his best friend from college, Mike, was diagnosed with cancer and had a very slim chance of survival. I felt so helpless seeing the hurt my father felt while dealing with this news. My parents and I visited Mike and his family over winter break, and I suddenly became furious at the toll that battling cancer took on such an incredibly funny, bright and kind man. It was then I realized cancer would never stop affecting my life, or millions of others’ lives, until it was cured.

Now, obviously because I am a student in the MPA program, I am in no way qualified to cure cancer. But, I could take action. I decided to join Team LiveSTRONG so I could no longer feel helpless in the fight against cancer, and so I could spread hope to people like Mike and his support group.

I personally got involved in the war on cancer because I became fed up with being helpless. I know almost everyone has an issue close to their heart that they can’t stand for and we all need a way to find a sense of agency and hope.

So… What do you do about it? GET INVOLVED! Continue reading Why I Live Strong

Spring Meanderings

A candy store on SoCo.

Is it Spring? It’s hard to tell in Texas sometimes. But I say, it is! In honor of the emergence of Spring (and the fact that I hail from a city north of Houston dubbed Spring, TX), I’m going to mention just a few fun things I’ve done / will do this Spring.


went to a reading.
There are a couple of contemporary writers that really excite me, that just make me feel completely starstruck. One of them is Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet (sweet cover, right?). It was terrific to see him read at BookPeople, “Austin’s leading independent bookstore,” in January. Marcus is actually an Austin native (I did not know that) and his reading is the result of a partnership between BookPeople and the literary magazine, American Short Fiction, I worked for in the Fall. I am really excited for their reading series and future collaborations. Continue reading Spring Meanderings

Hear that?

That’s opportunity knocking at your door, right here in Austin!

This blog is the next in the series of blogs discussing the components that make Austin such a great city to go to school in. Austin is a city just brimming with opportunity. Whether it is internships or job opportunities, volunteering opportunities, or really any opportunity, Austin can provide it for you.

Internships/ Jobs

The lovely UT campus is located deep in the heart of Austin. A few blocks away from McCombs is the Texas Capitol, home of the Texas Senate and House of Representative. I had the opportunity to intern at the Capitol last spring to explore my interest in law and politics. After a semester as a legislative aide, I figured out that politics wasn’t my forte, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to immediately find out it wasn’t a field I wanted to continue.

A few blocks from the Texas Capitol is downtown Austin, where opportunities for jobs and internships in almost every industry possible are readily available. As you read earlier, a fellow blogger Xinmiao interned at American Short Fiction and is currently interning at Greenlights for Nonprofit Success. The opportunities are seemingly limitless. Continue reading Hear that?