Professional Accounting Pre-Grad Intern) Chrissy Grigalis

Chrissy GrigalisComing into this program, I knew nothing about graduate school. I had no close relatives with a graduate background, and although my dad went back to school and got a master's degree many years after his bachelor's, he never had the traditional grad school experience, so it was virtually up to me to figure out what it was all about. I had no idea where or what kind of information to start looking for, so when I stumbled upon the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program's Pre-Graduate School Mentorship, I signed up immediately. It was one of the best decisions I could have made for my future. Through this mentorship, I have had the privilege of getting to know not only one of the most prominent faculty members in my field of interest, but also a generous graduate student who has shown me firsthand what grad school really entails. Through their support and guidance, I have strengthened my desire and motivation to pursue a graduate education, and because of them, I now have extensive inside knowledge on how grad school is conducted, something which many of my peers do not.

Although I am a Corporate Communications major, I have always had a passion for accounting. I've known for quite some time that I wanted to go to graduate school to study it, but I didn't know the means of getting there. Through this mentorship, I was able to find a faculty mentor, as well as a student mentor, to offer me guidance through the grad school process. My faculty mentor, Dr. Stephen Limberg, is the faculty director of the Master's in Professional Accounting (MPA) program here at UT. From our very first meeting, he was incredibly personable and easy to talk with. He made me feel comfortable asking questions and gave me many new perspectives on various issues. In addition to talking about grad school, we had discussions about recent accounting scandals and the ethical dilemmas they present, which is a subject I am very interested in. We also talked about other current troubles in the business world, including the current banking crisis and the effects of corrupt compliance programs on businesses.

Most of all, Dr. Limberg has taken the unfamiliarity out of MPA faculty, providing me with a greater awareness of various professors and advisors who have been generous with their time and patient with my numerous questions. Through Dr. Limberg's recommendation, I was able to sit in on one of Dr. Kachelmeier's classes, a professor who teaches an assurance services class, which is the area of accounting I am most interested in. Afterwards, I talked with Professor Kachelmeier, and he was a very kind man. He said I could come by his office if I ever have any questions about anything, and that I could attend his class again in the fall. It was very gratifying to hear a professor who cared about the success of a student that wasn't their own. I was also able to meet with Keri Ledezma, the MPA Admissions Advisor. She walked me through the admissions process and gave me very helpful suggestions on how to make my application stand out. Without Dr. Limberg's suggestions, I wouldn't have had the privilege of meeting two notable faculty members.

The most valuable aspect of this mentorship was the relationship I built with my student mentor. Jamil Assaf, a first-year MPA student who majored in accounting and finance at St. Edward's University, gave me useful information about various aspects of graduate school. He always found time to meet with me, even with his demanding grad student schedule, which was something I was very grateful for. He was easy to talk to and never had a problem answering any of my questions. For help on the admissions process, Jamil showed me his personal statement he wrote for UT, shared with me his tips on studying for the GMAT, and gave me information on other graduate accounting programs around the US. To understand what graduate classes are like, I went to several of Jamil's classes, including the Art and Science of Negotiation and Law for Entrepreneurs. Just like Dr. Kachelmeier and Keri Ledezma, the personalities of his professors were completely genuine, kind, and engaging. I was most surprised and intrigued by the fact that the majority of time in class was spent on discussions and interactions with the entire class and not solely on lecturing.

More than anything, Jamil has given me the confidence and reassurance needed to pursue a graduate education. The abundant, and sometimes overwhelming, amount of information shared, Jamil has provided me with a friendly, familiar face that eliminated the majority of my apprehension about embarking on such a challenging undertaking. Without his welcoming and supportive manner, my impression of grad life would be completely different. He has ultimately strengthened my desire to become a part of the MPA program.

The most beneficial thing about this program is the valuable knowledge you gain and the unique experience you're allowed. Not many undergraduates get to sit in on graduate level classes, meet with graduate faculty, and learn hands-on information from current graduate students. This program has allowed me to see firsthand what it's like to be in graduate school and the hard work that it entails.

Overall, the IE program has definitely solidified my decision to pursue a Master's in Professional Accounting here at UT. The graduate business school is ranked exceptionally high, and for good reason. The faculty I have met so far are smart, engaging, but most importantly, personable and approachable. They definitely have made me feel like this is somewhere I want to be. Most of all, immersing myself in the graduate student culture has given me the motivation to work even harder to achieve my educational and career goals.