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

Longhorn Nation: the connections between Longhorn football and Texas MPA

The thing that usually comes to mind  with The University of Texas at Austin is Longhorn football. Football is such a huge part of the culture here and is part of the Longhorn identity. Football also illustrates some of the core characteristics that come to define the university as a whole and especially the MPA program. Some of these qualities include teamwork, loyalty and excellence

Longhorn football fans at the start of a home game

Teamwork

Sitting in the stands of the football stadium, wearing burnt orange along with 100,000 other people, I feel like I am part of something so much bigger than myself. Although I am not on the field playing football, I feel as if I am part of the team. Everyone on the field and in the crowd wants to succeed as one and conquer all the challenges that face us.

This team-oriented culture is also very prevalent in the MPA program. The curriculum is very team based, so it provides the program a much more collaborative than competitive atmosphere. I was personally very nervous about joining such a prestigious program, and heard that everyone was extremely competitive concerning grades and job offers. However, because of the team-oriented culture my experience has been everyone trying to succeed together and accomplish a common goal. …..click here to read more

An introduction of sorts

Hello, Reader!

Ellen Furman playing her "Long Stringed Instrument" in the Architecture Library at UT

I’m looking forward to sharing some of my thoughts & adventures with you and hope that they will shed light on what goes on at the MPA Program here at UT Austin.  I’m looking forward to writing about a number of topics, generally introduced below, but I am willing to and probably will divert!

THE PROGRAM

The exciting challenge of being immersed in an accounting education for the first time is navigating through the opportunities and job paths available to you in such a short span of time. With accounting there are many – more options than I realized before starting here.  Thanks to a very thorough academic advisor (that has helped me rework my course schedule numerous times), a career staff that has steered me toward jobs that match my interests and professors I drop in on from time to time, I have expanded my interests. I’m now interested in quite a few areas of accounting, from non-profit and fund accounting to IT and security system audits. …..click here to read more

Sentiments of a Fifth-Year MPA Student

Karen celebrates birthday with MPA friends.

Wow! I never thought I would get this far. Being a fifth-year Integrated MPA student still feels surreal to me. My years of hardwork as a college student will finally come to a close. It surely feels bittersweet.

What does a fifth-year student’s schedule look like?  After going through my recruiting and internship semesters, I have just been focusing on my remaining courses and enjoying Austin as much as I can.

I have a couple of undergraduate classes left to satisfy my BBA degree and three remaining graduate courses. Group projects, midterms, and deadlines are still the main highlights of my semester.

Even though this is my last year here at UT, I still strive to maintain my grades. while also making room to take fun classes that are non-accounting related, such as theatre and music.

I have also been preparing for the CPA Exam, which I am taking in April 2012. Testing under out-of-state requirements can be challenging, but I am very fortunate to have very helpful academic advisors that walk me through the process. I have also looked at Becker CPA Review courses to prepare for the exams. The AICPA website provides a good overview of the exam components and requirements for candidates. …..click here to read more