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. …..click here to read more

MPA Cribs: A “Mini Tour” of the McCombs School of Business

The 21st Street Entrance to the McCombs School of Business

Six floors, three buildings and top-notch classrooms and facilities – The McCombs School of Business has been the home of over 6,000 students. Personally, it is the only place on-campus where I spend my time: for classes, group projects, organizational meetings, studying, eating or just socializing with friends.

I would like to open the doors of the business school and give you a “mini tour” of the buildings’ most prominent highlights.  Welcome to my crib!

1)   “The Family Group”

Situated by the 21st Street entrance of the business school,   “The Family Group” is a sculpture designed by Charles Umlauf. Umlauf had a vision that focused on family; “the foundation upon which the world of business is built.” The plaza where the sculpture is located also has several tables and chairs where students can study or wait before their classes start.

AIM Investment Center

 

2)   AIM Investment Center

One of the most prominent facilities in the business school is the AIM Investment Center. With the LED ticker constantly running overhead, the facility provides business students the latest updates on current stock prices. The AIM Investment Center is also a part of the EDS Financial Trading and Technology Center, which is dedicated to helping MBA students and undergraduate finance majors obtain real-world experience in managing investment portfolios and developing client relationships.

 

…..click here to read more

Gratitude

I am thankful for my younger brother, Stephen.

As Thanksgiving rolls around, I think we all need to take some time out of our busy/stressful lives and remember what we are grateful for. You should think about what you are thankful for every day, but sometimes we get caught up in the shuffle and forget to do so.

In the spirit of the holiday, I will tell you five (of many) things that I am thankful for.

1. Family and Friends: The clichéd response, however, an important thing to be thankful for. I don’t know where I would be without my wonderful family and friends. I am loving all of my new (and old) MPA friends and I feel so blessed to have them in my life.

2. McCombs: Did anyone see the tower in orange last week and wonder why? It was in honor of the Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools: 2012 edition. McCombs ranked No. 1 for “Best Professors!” Next class, tell a business Professor “Thank you.”

3. Laughter: Considering I have mentioned laughter in 2 of my 2 blog posts thus far, it is probably clear that it is one of my favorite things. Never discount the importance of laughing everyday. …..click here to read more

Spare some time to volunteer!

Bowling is a sport right up the athletes' alley!

One of the great things about McCombs is that they develop students into professionals while improving the greater Austin community. Serving the community is a huge part of the culture of McCombs and Texas MPA.

Just last weekend, I had a remarkable experience volunteering. I went with MPA Council to help out with a Special Olympics bowling event in North Austin. I had the opportunity to get to know four extraordinary people: Sterling, Kelley, Kyle, and Alaina. All four of them have down syndrome and live at the Down Home Ranch. Sterling and Kelley have been dating for 12 years and plan to get married in 2013, and Kyle and Alaina have been dating for a year. The four of them have been bowling for most of their lives and it  is something they are truly passionate about. The four of them are also aggies, which could have led to a sticky situation.  Luckily when I told them I was a true longhorn, Kyle came up to me and gave me a big hug and said, “It’s ok, we can still be friends.”

Volunteering at this event is an experience I will never forget. I feel that when you are at a place as amazing and exciting as UT, it’s important to remember how lucky we are. We have limitless possibilities for our future and opportunities to make a difference in the world. I love how MPA encourages us to take these volunteer opportunities to remind us what’s truly important in the world.

Companies also take this idea of building up the community around you to heart. Corporate responsibility is becoming an extremely important aspect of developing a company’s brand.

What makes this exciting is that when MPA students disperse across the world to follow their careers and continue volunteering in the community, the Texas motto of “What starts here changes the world” becomes a reality.

Non-Criminal Intent

Among the factors I did not weigh in choosing a graduate program is the number of former prison inmates I would encounter in my studies. I imagine for the vast majority of current and prospective graduate students that is not a concern. As it turns out in the MPA program this semester I have had the opportunity to hear from a handful of white collar criminals during our required course: MPA Distinguished Speaker Lyceum. It also turns out that hearing their stories has been a highly rewarding part of the program.

As these professionals shared their stories I noticed that all rationalized  a genuine belief that what they were doing would be fine and none mentioned evaluating their decisions with someone they respected .  I think these trends tell us something about how to become a white collar criminal and maybe something about how to avoid it.

In the course of sharing his story our most recent speaker said two things in which I thought the semantics were relevant to this idea of prison avoidance:

First he said about arriving at prison “I didn’t intend to be there” and it occurred to me that from his story he also didn’t intend to NOT be there.

Second he mentioned that “intent is a critical element of a white collar crime” and it crossed my mind that intent also seems to be a critical element of NOT white collar crime. …..click here to read more