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OSU Commencement and Closing Thoughts

As much as I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Ohio State as a student, Spring Commencement was celebrated on Sunday, May 5.  Over 8,000 graduates were packed onto the field in Ohio Stadium, and I was surrounded by my MAcc classmates as we listened to President Obama, OSU President E. Gordon Gee, and many others encourage us to dream big and change the world.   OSU graduates were fortunate to have a sitting president speak at our commencement, and I’ll share my favorite message from our keynote speaker:

The point is, if you are living your life to the fullest, you will fail, you will stumble, you will screw up, you will fall down.  But it will make you stronger, and you’ll get it right the next time, or the time after that, or the time after that.  And that is not only true for your personal pursuits, but it’s also true for the broader causes that you believe in as well. 

There were so many wonderful moments of graduation:  walking across the field to receive my diplomas as the victory bells chimed from the stadium, meeting my friends’ families after the ceremony, and plenty of hugs from my proud parents and sister.  Of course, we had to stop by Fisher after commencement, where many business student graduates were gathered to take pictures and say their goodbyes.

I’m going to miss this place!

As I write my last blog post for My Fisher Grad Life, I’m not sure there’s a better way to leave than by closing with the words of “Carmen Ohio,” the alma mater of the school of which I am now a proud member of a group of over 500,000 living alumni.  So, here goes…

Oh! Come let’s sing Ohio’s praise, 
And songs to Alma Mater raise; 
While our hearts rebounding thrill, 
With joy which death alone can still. 
Summer’s heat and Winter’s cold, 
The season pass, the years will roll; 
Time and change will surely show 
How firm thy friendship — O hi o.

Some great friends I’ve been lucky enough to spend my last four years with at Fisher!


Fisher MAcc Graduation Ceremony 2013

It’s hard to believe my eighty classmates and I have completed our Master of Accounting degree from the Fisher College of Business!  On Friday, May 3, we gathered at the Ohio Union with faculty, family and friends, to celebrate our success in this program.  The evening was complete with a reception where I was able to meet the families of many of my close MAcc friends and chat with faculty members one last time before the summer.  A formal ceremony followed with touching remarks from our director, Professor Arya, and many others.  Several students were also recognized for different successes in the program, including the top ten percent of students based on academic performance, the top performers on our MAcc exit exam, and the members of MAcc Council.

One recognition that was particularly special was the E&Y Award for Excellence in Teaching.  This year’s winner was Professor Zach, our instructor for the academic research course in the program.  I had the pleasure of having Professor Zach as an instructor for my first accounting class as an undergraduate as well, and I was so happy to see him recognized for the fantastic job he does in encouraging students in research and academic development.  For all of the future MAcc students who will take his research class, you’re in for quite the experience!

Professor Zach, this year’s MAcc Professor of the Year, and me at the MAcc reception!

Awards, speeches, and other formalities aside, this celebration was a great way to end the program.  I can’t begin to describe how amazing my final year was at Ohio State because of my decision to pursue my MAcc degree.  There are too many people who made the year special to name them all, so to all of the incredible faculty and classmates – thanks for an unforgettable year!  I will miss this group…

The graduates of the MAcc Class of 2013


OSU Sites to See Before Graduation

It’s not too late to see some of the best spots on OSU campus!  Here are some of my favorites from undergrad and this past year in the Fisher MAcc:

Orton Hall

I love hearing the chimes of the Orton Tower bells when I’m walking along the Oval on campus.  If you’re lucky, you can hear them playing “Carmen Ohio,” our school’s alma mater.  One of my favorite memories from my time here as an undergrad was walking across the Oval back to my dorm on South Campus with my sister one winter evening.  It had just snowed, so there was a foot or two on the ground.  We proceeded to drop our backpacks and make snow angels in the fresh snow when “Carmen Ohio” started playing on the bells.  I’ll never forget times like that when I felt so happy to be a Buckeye!

For anyone interested, you can actually climb the Orton Bell Tower next Wednesday, May 1, from 6-9 PM, as part of OSU Commencement Week!

The beautiful Orton Hall (photo courtesy of Ohio State)

Ohio Stadium

I can’t think of any fall quarter or semester here at Ohio State without recalling some incredible football games in the ‘Shoe.  I walked across the field at convocation to start off my freshman year at Ohio State, and I cannot believe it’s already next Sunday when I’ll be crossing the field again, this time as a graduate.  This is definitely a must-see on any tour of campus, and I highly suggest taking photos outside the ‘Shoe on graduation day!

The ‘Shoe at night (photo courtesy of Ohio State)

Mirror Lake

This area of campus is special to me, because South Campus was my home as a freshman.  I crossed the South Oval and saw the fountains of Mirror Lake every day walking to class.  Although the most memorable time at Mirror Lake for many students is the Mirror Lake jump before the Michigan game, it’s definitely still a great place to check out on any spring day.

Thompson Library

Any tour of campus is incomplete without stopping into Thompson Library to see the giant book stacks and take a trip to the 11th floor Reading Room.  The 11th floor offers 360-degree views of campus and downtown Columbus.  But be careful – this is a quiet study room, so you might get glares from students trying to study during finals week if you’re too loud!

Thompson Library on a spring day (photo courtesy of Ohio State)

There are plenty more special spots for OSU students.  That’s one of my favorite things about being part of such a huge campus:  50,000 students all love something different about this university.  You can actually take a “Things You Never Got To See” Tour during Commencement Week as well to check out some of the more popular buildings.  For all of you graduates – don’t leave campus without at least taking a stroll through the Oval and soaking up some sun with your fellow Buckeyes before taking off and starting your new careers!


VITA 2013: Another Year of Success!

It’s hard to believe, but another year of VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – is complete!  After over 1,000 volunteer hours put in by Fisher students at both the Godman Guild and OSU Law Extension Center, 275 income tax returns were filed for residents around Columbus, Ohio.  These returns generated around $425,000 in refunds for these individuals and families, which is an average of about $1,500 per return.  VITA was a fantastic learning experience from both a tax technical skills standpoint, as well as a client relationship-building standpoint.

MAcc student Ly Pham answers a taxpayer’s questions at Godman Guild.

For many student volunteers, VITA is particularly challenging in unexpected ways.  Sure, each student completes training and learns how to navigate the tax software and recognize common tax credits and deductions for our clients.  However, it can often be difficult to explain tax concepts to our clients.  Establishing trust with a client can be difficult in any situation, but it is particularly challenging for some of our clients to put their trust in a 22 or 23-year-old student.  I was happy to see all of our student volunteers express patience and kindness with all taxpayers, making sure their questions were answered and asking site managers for help whenever needed.

MAcc and undergraduate students volunteered over a period of six weeks to assist Columbus residents in preparing their income tax returns.

For those of you who are prospective students or will be starting the MAcc program in August, I highly recommend participating in VITA.  You don’t have to be going into tax after graduation; we had plenty of future auditors and corporate accountants help us out this year.  VITA is simply a great way to get to know your classmates better and spend some time serving the greater Columbus community.


MAcc Gives Back 2013!

Fisher MAcc students, faculty and staff came together on Friday, April 5, to serve the greater Columbus community.  Groups visited the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, Lutheran Social Services Westside Pantry, Franklin Park Conservatory, and Whetstone Park to participate in various service activities.  My group helped clean, organize and stock shelves at the westside pantry for the morning.  It’s always very humbling to see the need of Columbus residents so close to campus, but it’s also encouraging to see how many organizations are operating with the well-being of community in mind.

MAcc students and staff volunteer at the LSS Westside Pantry

The famous OSU football coach Woody Hayes once said, “You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.”  I hope that all of us are able to continue paying it forward by serving whatever communities we’ll be a part of after graduation.  I’m lucky to be joining an accounting firm that places community service among its top priorities, and I’m thankful to be part of a college that does the same!


Spring Break Part II: B1G Tourney Time!

2013 Big Ten Tournament Champions!!!!!!!!!!

The scoreboard displaying the Buckeyes as tournament champs!

When I arrived to Chicago last Thursday, I did not expect to see the United Center full of confetti in celebration of the Ohio State Buckeyes winning the 2013 B1G Championship!  But after experiencing all 11 games in 4 short days, I am thrilled that we did it!  This is our third title in just four years.

Here are some of my favorite highlights from the entire weekend:

  • Aaron Craft winning the B1G Tourney Most Outstanding Player
  • The thousands of IU fans suddenly becoming much quieter during their loss to Wisconsin
  • Sam Thompson’s career-high 19 points against Nebraska on Friday
  • My free Penn State basketball t-shirt – thanks to their student section for bringing extras
  • CHEERING ON MY BUCKEYES ALL WEEKEND LONG!!!

The team and coaches celebrating the B1G championship win!

In case it wasn’t obvious, the last four days of spring break were pretty unbelievable.  Now for the NCAA Tourney…it’s time to dance!


Spring Break Part I: Mesa, Arizona!

The first several days of my last spring break as a MAcc student were spent in Mesa, Arizona, with my dad.  (One of the benefits of being in Columbus is you’re always one change of planes from any decently sized city in the U.S.) We flew out Friday evening and spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons at Hohokam Park, home of the Chicago Cubs spring training!  Unfortunately (although unsurprisingly), the Cubs lost on Saturday to the Cleveland Indians in an embarrassing performance involving five, six, maybe seven different pitchers?  I know, I know, it’s only spring training, but a 9-2 loss doesn’t get my hopes up for the games that apparently do matter in the regular season.  But, the Cubs were able to turn it around on Sunday and beat the San Diego Padres 9-3.  The sun was out, there were hot dogs and ice cream to spare, and it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Outside Hohokam Park, home of the Chicago Cubs spring training!

After a couple of days of baseball, we drove out to the Phoenix Botanical Garden to get some sun and see the Sonoran Desert at its finest!  We saw tons of cacti as you might expect in a desert, but the botanical garden also had an herb garden and butterfly garden, as well as some hand-built shelters and tools used by tribes native to the desert.  I also saw a few prairie dogs running about.  If I remember correctly, the real name according to an official botanical garden sign was some type of squirrel, but they sure looked like prairie dogs to me!  There were also lots of beautiful flowers among the green cacti; the one below was one of my favorites!

One of the thousands of beautiful plants in the botanical garden

We spend the last couple of days soaking up the sun at the pool, as it reached the high 80′s by our last day.  After what seemed like a short trip, it was back to Columbus for a pit stop before heading to Chicago for the Big 10 Tourney to get my basketball fix before the last six weeks of classes in the Fisher MAcc!

 


Closing Time: The Last Term

How is it already the fourth term?!  The MAcc students are just seven weeks away from graduation!  With this last term comes new, exciting classes, and here they are:

AMIS 7784 – Tax Research:

That’s right – one last tax class!  This course will allow us to take all of the knowledge we’ve gained the past three terms on corporations, trusts, estates, etc., and apply it to research questions.  We’ll be developing research skills and using different tools provided by the IRS and other sources to answer realistic tax questions from all kinds of different parties.  This will certainly be applicable to many of us in the class that will be starting our careers in tax.

BUSMHR 7230 – High Performing Teams:

After having a wonderful experience in managerial negotiations with Dr. Tracy Dumas, I’m taking another one of her courses on building and leading effective teams.  Many of us MAcc students will be working in roles in public accounting, where it’s very important to be able to perform well in teams.  This class actually reminds me of some of the activities we participated in at Summit Vision all the way back at orientation.  One of the activities (pictured below), required trust, listening, creativity, and many other skills we’ve already begun to talk about in this course.  I’m excited to learn more about how I can perform effectively in a team setting and motivate others to do so as well.

My Summit Vision group working on our team-building skills. It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come this year!

AMIS 7250 – Government and Non-Profit Accounting:  

I can already tell that this is going to be a great class!  We started out with an overview of non-profits and then began learning about the differences between for-profit and non-profit accounting.  We read an interesting article on Livestrong, formerly the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the conflicting public perception of the non-profit organization and actual use of donations.  It’s important for people to understand how the money that they are donating to charities and other organizations is being used, and we’re learning how accountants can help with that process.  We’ll also cover governmental accounting later on this term.

After a short first week, it’s already spring break!  I’m off to Arizona for some spring training with the Chicago Cubs and then heading back east to Chicago for the B1G Tourney.  Plenty of stories from this packed week to come!


Super Bowl Ads and Major Market Moves

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that one assignment in our accounting policy and research class is an event study.  Our class was split into groups of four, and each group was asked to choose an event and perform a study to determine whether that event affected specific firms’ stock prices.  My group chose to study Super Bowl advertisements.  Companies spend millions of dollars for a thirty-second slot during this huge game to tell viewers that they have a great product or potentially have a new product to unveil.  If investors in these firms believe that these ads do their job by boosting future sales, the stock price of these firms should increase right after the Super Bowl.  Not only should they increase, but there should be some portion of that return that is abnormal, or unrelated to the market.

So, if investors in Anheuser-Busch saw the commercial below, do you think the firm would have significantly positive abnormal returns a few days after the Super Bowl?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs

It turns out they do!  I won’t get into any of the technical portions of this study, but we did find results that proved our hypothesis.  We also expanded our study to look at firms that were advertising for the first time in the Super Bowl to see if their returns were even higher.  We believed there was more of an element of surprise for these companies, and the ads possibly contained more information than ads of firms that always advertise in the Super Bowl.  Lastly, we broke our group of ads into good and bad ads based on USA Today ratings.  It would seem that good ads would have more positive returns than poorly ranked ads.  We received mixed results for our last tests, but I was really happy with our results overall.

This course, along with many others in the Fisher MAcc program, go beyond lectures and readings to allow students to get their hands dirty.  In this course, we didn’t just read research papers, discuss and then forget them.  We built an understanding of the research process that helped us conduct our own study and present it like many academic researchers.  In fraudulent financial reporting, we don’t just talk about hypothetical situations and different methods of fraud.  We actually are able to examine all different types of financial data from a sample of firms and investigate the fraud ourselves.  These hands-on learning experiences are very valuable and helpful in making the class more meaningful.

With that, we start our last week of Spring Term 1 with finals just around the corner!  To all of my classmates – hang in there, it’s almost spring break!!


Broadway Comes to Columbus!

I’m a huge Broadway fan, so I’m always excited to hear about a new show coming into Columbus!  These shows usually come to one of my two favorite theaters downtown – the Ohio Theatre and the Palace Theatre.  If you’re a Broadway aficionado – or if you’ve never seen a show before in your life – you should definitely check out the line-up at these theaters.  I’m sure you’ll find something of interest!

This week I went to see Million Dollar Quartet.  This musical is set on one night – December 4, 1956 – when four music legends were all together for a recording session.  These musicians were Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley.  This would be the only time these artists, who all debuted with Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, were all together.  The show featured memorable songs such as “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Walk the Line.”  The actors did a fantastic job and took the audience members back to the ’50′s for this session.

Broadway actors portray Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash
(photo courtesy of milliondollarquartetlive.com)

My favorite of the artists portrayed in this musical is Johnny Cash.  My freshman year at Ohio State, I had the privilege of taking a seminar course solely focused on Johnny Cash and his songwriting.  Each class session, we would listen to a couple of his songs and discuss what we thought the lyrics meant to Johnny and what they meant to us.  Some of my favorites of Johnny’s were actually covers – not his original lyrics – and many were spirituals.  In the Sweet By and By and Hurt were two in particular that I enjoyed, although I also love his most famous original songs like Folsom Prison Blues, Walk the Line, and Ring of Fire.

The real Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash
(photo courtesy of milliondollarquartetlive.com)

I would highly recommend this show – or any off-Broadway shows – that stop by in Columbus for a week or two.  Ohio State’s theater department also puts on shows throughout the year, so you might check out their line-up for the spring.  Even if Broadway isn’t your thing, it’s definitely important to get away from campus for a few hours a week and do something that takes your mind off of classwork.  You have plenty of time to spend in class and working on projects, so be sure to take a break and explore Columbus!


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