Aaron Panopio is currently completing a Master’s of Accounting at the University of Arizona.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I decided to go to graduate school so I could earn the additional units that I needed to become a licensed CPA. I also really enjoyed the accounting staff and faculty during my undergrad that provided me with the advice and resources that got me to where I am so far, so it only made sense to stick with it for my master’s!
What was the preparation and application process like? Focusing a lot on closing out my undergrad strong, primarily GPA-wise and making finishing additions and touches to my resume before the application deadline. Even though it was easy to want to slack towards graduation, applying for masters kept me motivated to finish strong. Having a good group of friends also applying made it less stressful.
What has been the most challenging part of your experience? The most rewarding? While being selected for a staff position during my masters was one of my highlights during college, I can easily say that the connections that I’ve made so far in my college career have been the most rewarding part of my experience. I’ve made life-long friends that helped me push through tough times and supported me through everything that I’ve done.
The most challenging part of this experience was making the decision of what accounting firm that I wanted to work for after graduation, there are so many firms that have so much to offer, so making a critical decision in my firm selection was difficult. It’s important to discover and consider where you fit in, who you want to work with, where you want to be in the future, and most importantly how you’re gonna get there.
It was also tough returning to UofA after graduation without my friends that I have had all throughout undergrad, but it forces me to sacrifice some of the social aspect of college to focus on academics, working on CPA’s, and my full-time career, sometimes that’s what it takes.
What do you hope to do after you complete the program? After completion of graduate school, I will be returning to Orange County, CA to work for BDO as an assurance associate. I plan on having my CPA’s completed either before graduation or in the first month of summer so I can travel the world before I buckle down and begin my professional career. Would love to see New Zealand, Europe, and strangely Easter Island, I would also love to revisit my hometown of the Philippines.
What advice do you have for students looking to pursue the same advanced degree: The fact that you have or will be graduating from UofA makes you part of just 30% of the US population, it’s easy to lose track of that when you’re in school surrounded by bright individuals chasing their individual goals. You’ve already done big things this far. It’s easy to call it quits after that, but you should realize that keeping your eyes on the prize for just another year or two will benefit you exponentially. Go the extra mile to make yourself better, more successful, and more marketable. Take it from a first-generation college graduate and the first in his family to go to college in the US, to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. With sacrifice comes great reward, and all will come in due time!