Phil Garcia graduated from ACU in 1999 with a degree in marketing. We asked Phil to reflect on his time in the College of Business and asked how that shaped his life post-graduation. Phil said, “The most fundamental thing I took away from ACU is my Christian faith. I did not arrive at ACU with a relationship with Jesus Christ, but I was very quickly influenced by the Christian friends and professors who took time to get to know me. Being a Christ follower is core to everything that I do. My faith has allowed me the success I have because I am genuine and ethical with all of my business practices. Both clients and co-workers know that I am real and I care about them outside of our work relationship. I believe many of my professors showed me what humility and authenticity look like by the way they worked with me and lived their lives both on and off campus.”
In his work as a Senior Vice President in investments, he provides professional asset management and consulting for client’s investment portfolios. His clients are business owners, corporate executives, foundations/endowments and retirees and Phil finds great joy in helping clients reach their goals and funding a lifestyle that they’ve grown accustomed to. Phil believes that being a Christian creates positive occasions for him to live out his faith with his work. He says, “It encourages me to be humble, allows me to give grace and mercy to those around me, and creates authentic relationships. Being real and vulnerable with people has opened many doors and created great business opportunities. My authentic relationships have created clients and friendships that have become like family, and much of my business growth can be attributed to referrals from these clients.”
Phil says that students need to know that business is about relationships. “Students should make all the friends and connections they can. Meet board members, trustees, guest speakers on campus, etc. I made the mistake of limiting my interactions with my social club for most of my time at ACU, and that kept me from making many connections that could have helped me in my career. People whom you have a relationship with are more likely to make introductions for you in the business world, and this is what leads to success.”
When reflecting on his favorite memories while at ACU, Phil said that Welcome Week was an incredibly positive experience for him as he was the first in his family to attend college and had some trepidation after moving 8 hours away from home. He said, “I met people that became lifelong friends and eventually led me to finding the Lord my junior year. Pledging Knights introduced me to a great group of men, and some fun experiences like Sing Song and intramurals. We still meet once a year for an annual fishing trip and they provide me with a solid foundation for moral support. They are the true meaning of ‘iron sharpening iron’.”
Phil also says that one of the most significant memories he has was having a private Bible study with Dr. Rick Lytle. He goes on to explain, “His simple invite and desire to take an interest in me has impacted my life forever. We still have an ongoing relationship, and he still plays a significant role in my life. I attribute a large part of my success to that faithful servant of God.”
Phil says that the absolute BEST memory he has from his time at ACU is meeting his wife, Brittney Binder (’00). He says, “She is the backbone of our family, and without her I wouldn’t be who I am today. She wanted to travel the world with her International Business degree, but selflessly gave that up to raise our family, encourage me daily and be there for others.”
Phil advises incoming freshmen to “Make friends with everyone! Do all the activities that you can possibly do….even if they might not sound cool. Be authentic, volunteer, tryout, put your phones down and do life!”
Phil says he didn’t plan on attending ACU. He explains, “ I just want to share about my beginnings…I did not come from a privileged home. No one in my family had ever gone to college, and I had no help or expectations on what I should do. By the grace of God (and some great family friends) I landed at ACU. I had never heard of ACU until the summer after my senior year. On a whim, I applied and was accepted and a month later, I was dropped off at my dorm. I was scared and felt alone. I had no way to pay for school, and I ended up taking out loans for all the years I was there. I feel that in order to understand my success, others need to know my background. Looking back I can see God’s hand in all of this, and I know He had a plan for my life. I am forever grateful for my time at ACU and the path it paved for my life!”
Dr. Katie Wick has a Ph.D. in economics and teaches classes in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and game theory at ACU. Last semester, Dr. Wick worked on registered replications of two famous social science papers with student Rachael Shudde, whom Dr. Wick has mentored throughout her time at ACU. They were a part of a replication with 24 other universities to test the results of these papers to see if they still held. Dr. Wick and Rachael had just under 400 participants in their section and the meta-analysis of the whole replication had 8,000 participants. Dr. Wick was named Mentor of the Year at ACU’s Undergraduate Research Festival for her work with Rachael.
Dr. Katie Wick
The premise of the first paper was on hostility and how people view actions as hostile or not based on whether they were primed with angry words or regular words. The second paper, which was presented at ACU’s research festivals and others, focused on the effects of moral priming against cheating. Participants were presented with a test that asked them to solve twenty matrix equations and then write down the number of matrices that they solved. Only half of the matrices had solutions and participants were asked to solve each one in four minutes. If participants reported solving more than ten matrices and more than four minutes were used to solve problems, then the participant was cheating. Before taking the test, participants had to complete a priming task. The control prime was to write down ten books the participant read in high school and the moral prime, which was being evaluated to see if it had any effect on cheating, asked participants to write down the Ten Commandments. Dr. Wick was particularly interested in this replication at ACU because students are constantly morally primed. There are bible verses on the walls, chapels, and Christian professors who consistently integrate faith into their classrooms. Dr. Wick hypothesized that the moral priming task would not affect the participants at ACU as they are morally primed every day, which turned out to be true.
Beyond guidance through the project, Dr. Wick mentored Rachael through a major life transition. Dr. Wick has known Rachael since she was a freshman at ACU. Rachael approached Dr. Wick wanting to learn more about how to prepare for a Ph.D. in economics. Dr. Wick counseled her to study math, which became Rachael’s first major and has continued to walk with Rachael during her time at ACU. Throughout the project, Dr. Wick wanted to prepare Rachael for graduate school. Rachael had the task of taking all 400 experiments and inputting the test into a database for analysis. “I wanted to prepare her for the grunt work she will encounter,” said Dr. Wick. “The leap between undergraduate and graduate school is even bigger than the leap between high school and undergraduate school. It’s not glamorous and very hard.” Rachael wrote code to analyze the data, expecting the results to point to the original paper’s hypothesis that the moral prime decreased cheating. “I thought I had coded wrong,” said Rachael. “I was surprised to see that the ACU data contradicted the original results. That is my favorite part of data analysis: when you expect something to happen when you find results that are surprising.”
Rachael presented their findings on the cheating experiment at ACU’s Undergraduate Research Festival and at the Southwestern Psychological Association Conference. Dr. Wick was nominated by Rachael Shudde and won the award for Mentor of the Year at ACU’s Undergraduate Research Festival. “Dr. Wick is awesome and dedicated to research,” said Rachael. “She has a desire to answer questions and is good at designing and interpreting experiments. She is also great at giving feedback and guidance, which was invaluable throughout the research process.” Dr. Wick is grateful for the time she has been able to spend with Rachael and looks forward to seeing what she does during and after school.
Meet Jonathan Rugamba, one of our newest COBA alumni. Jonathan graduated on Saturday, May 12th, with a double major in accounting and finance. After graduation, he will be returning to his hometown of Kigali, Rwanda. His goal is to build up an equity firm within the next 10 years through which he can channel as many job opportunities as possible for the people of Rwanda.
Rugamba will be creating the start-up with a team of 5 of his “fellows” back home. Three of the team members build software and the other teammates will work to find clients to purchase the software. He said the start-up is still struggling to get off the ground but they hope for the best in the future. When asked how being a Christian will mold his work with co-workers and clients, Jonathan said that “I think most of my Christian values of love and unity will be vital in forming a strong team bond.”
When asked how the education and experiences at ACU and in COBA have helped him prepare for life after graduation, Jonathan stated, “Future is always the future, we can only guess at what it truly holds. We may feel prepared but we can’t certainly be sure. However, I have really gained a lot of knowledge, and that is the best preparation in my opinion. Knowledge never expires but grows.” One of Rugamba’s favorite experiences while in COBA was his time in STAR (the Student Trading and Research class) because it most mimicked the reality of the business world.
Rugamba’s advice to current students who want to follow this same type of work is to find your strength and remember that this is a never-ending journey. He advises incoming freshmen to “Have an end-in-mind, work towards it, love people and try to find the best in them. However, you are the best judge for yourself so the challenge lies in your hands. And above all strive to make sure that one day you will live your dream.”
Graduation is only a few days away and it’s the time of year we sadly say goodbye to our graduating seniors. We are proud of our students and we’d like to introduce you to a few of them on this blog, letting you know how their time at ACU has molded them, where they are headed after graduation, and what advice they have for the new freshmen class coming in the fall.
Allie Cawyer, Marketing major from Plano, Texas
After graduation, I will be moving back to Dallas and hoping to work in the corporate event industry.
For the last year, I have been working with University Events here at ACU and it has only made me more excited to pursue events full time. So, getting to actually do events all the time and working in that position is making me excited for graduation. Plus, no event is the same so I will not have to worry about doing the same thing every day.
My favorite ACU memory was probably when I studied abroad two summers ago. The experience was unlike any other and I not only learned about all of the other cultures but also about myself.
My favorite class was Leadership Summit because I got credit for taking a class in the mountains of Colorado, but the takeaway was much more than just the credit hours. So many people poured into us during that week with life lessons, truth and God’s word that nothing can compare to it.
My advice would be to be as involved as you can within your department, no matter what it may be. Get to know not only your classmates but also your professors because they truly care about you and your life. Start it early on, so that you get the full experience all four years.
Steven Yang, English major and COBA Student Worker from Chiang Rai, Thailand
After graduation, I am going to Regent University of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I am excited to be done with my undergrad and be able to travel home and see my family in Thailand.
Steven (tan jacket in the middle) and friends hiking over Spring Break.
My favorite memory at ACU is climbing different buildings, having game nights, and biking around Abilene.
My favorite class was Literature for Young Adults because reading stories from this class connects me to my past and helps me find my identity.
I would tell incoming freshmen to work hard
but never lose the ability to see the silver-lining in life. Life is too short and too hard to not be happy.
Katie Isham, Accounting major from Decatur, Texas
After graduation, I plan to work at PwC in Dallas as an Audit Associate. I’m most excited to go out and use the skills and knowledge I’ve learned throughout college to bless others. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I know that God has big plans- I’m just glad to be a part of them!
My favorite ACU memory…. hmmm. There’s not a certain memory that sticks out to me, rather my favorite thing about ACU is the people. Finding and creating friendships with diverse people who have the same aim, to love the Lord by loving others, has been instrumental in making me who I am.
My advice to incoming freshmen is don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. You’ll regret the opportunities you didn’t take and the friends you didn’t make. Keep your relationship with the Lord your main priority and join a church and Bible study right away! Regardless of what happens in your next four years, know that God so loved you that he sent his son to die for you as an atonement for your sins, so that through GRACE you are saved, not by your own works. Give all the glory to God!
Jack Oduro, Accounting major from Garland, Texas
After graduation, I am going to take a missional focused trip to Ghana for
the summer. Then, I begin getting ready for my full time job with Weaver & Tidwell LLP in Dallas. I am excited about graduation and grateful that all of my family is in one place for the first time in two years.
My favorite ACU memory is…truly, any time I got to spend time with the people at this school was inspiring. Some of my best moments may include late night strolls around campus and potential trespassing with life-long friends, friendships which began here.
My favorite classes were Social Entrepreneurship with Laura Philips and Leadership Summit with the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership. They are both up there in the extraordinary classes category. They both live up to ACU’s commitment of creating leaders for Christian service around the world.
My advice for the fishy is to seek to genuinely serve others because big changes start with the little acts of service.
Congratulations to the class of 2018! As Minor Meyers said, “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
Each year, COBA inducts new members into the ACU Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society serving business programs accredited by AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). Membership in BGS is the highest recognition a business student can receive in an AACSB accredited business program and a student must be in the top 10% in order to be asked to join the organization.
Last month, at a luncheon in their honor, COBA welcomed 34 new members to the chapter. Current BGS officers and faculty encouraged the new members to continue to learn and lead with integrity, honor, and commitment to excellence and asked them to be active participating members in the ACU Chapter, helping to further advance the mission of the College of Business Administration.
Dr. Andy Little, Associate Dean for COBA, said, “Beta Gamma Sigma is COBA’s academic honors society for business majors. It is an important recognition for these students, because it is an invitation-only organization, and membership signifies hard work, dedication, intelligence, and commitment. Within the organization, at ACU we emphasize honor, wisdom, and earnestness. The students complete service projects during the year, as well as other activities.”
Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma provides many benefits, including educational and professional opportunities to support members on campus and throughout their professional lives. Click here to learn more about Beta Gamma Sigma. Congratulations to our newest BGS members!
2018 Beta Gamma Sigma Inductees are:
COBA honored the MAcc (Master of Accountancy) class of 2018 at a luncheon on Thursday, May 3rd that was sponsored by KPMG. Special guest speaker was Cliff Crockett (’89), Partner at KPMG and father of graduating MAcc student, Daniel Crockett.
Mr. Crockett gave the students 10 tips for success as they begin their careers.
- Character and integrity count. Be trustworthy and admit your mistakes. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3
- Establish goals and learn to manage yourself and your career. Begin with the end in mind and ask yourself where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? Reassess your goals at different points along the way. Invest in and work to continually improve yourself. Root your goals in prayer and God. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”Proverbs 16:3
- Find a mentor(s) inside and outside of your employer, preferably someone older who can give you different perspectives. As you grow older, find someone you can mentor.
- What are your priorities in life going to be? Your priorities reflect where you spend your time.
- Be a lifelong learner. Always seek to learn something new. Continue to learn and cultivate your relationship with God.
- Be a servant leader. Put others first and be an encourager. Be salt and light in the world.
- Remember where you came from. Remember your roots – especially ACU. Stay connected to and be proud of being an ACU graduate. Remember the investment others have poured into you and pay it forward to the next generation of students that come through ACU.
- Stay involved with your church and community.
- Remember to give back. Give of your time and talents, not just your money. Make giving back the first thing you do – be intentional about it. Remember who your money belongs to.
- Keep your eyes on Jesus. Everything falls in to place if you keep your eyes on Jesus. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Kaitlyn Renner Allen and Dr. John Neill
Dr. John Neill presented the Outstanding MAcc Graduate of the Year award to Kaitlyn Renner Allen. As an undergraduate student, Kaitlyn majored in Accounting while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout the undergraduate and graduate accounting programs. She was President of Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honors Society; a member of Phi Eta Sigma Academic Honor Society; and a member of GATA Women’s ACU Social Club. She has received the following honors: Dean’s Honor List; R.L. Money Chancellors Award; Valedictorian Scholarship, Accounting Education Foundation of the Texas Society of CPAs scholarship, and the Abilene Chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs award. Last spring, she had the opportunity to intern with PwC in Dallas and she has accepted a full-time position as a Tax Staff Accountant in the Ft. Worth office starting this July.
Dr. Scott Stovall reads his blessing over the graduates
Dr. Scott Stovall gave this blessing over the graduates:
We accounting and finance faculty offer you our blessing. It has been an honor to teach and serve you. Your spirit, your curiosity, and your servant heart have lifted us up while you have been here. Your attitude has amazed us and perhaps a few times disappointed us. As you prepare to leave us, we ask that you remember a few things.
First, remember that God is Sovereign over everyone and everything. As one of His children, your sole purpose on this earth is to glorify Him. As you begin your career, remember to be the best professional that you can be. God has called you to do everything as though you are doing it for Him. Should you choose to marry someone and raise children, ground those relationships in God’s love. Follow the advice that my grandfather once gave me and choose a mate who will help you, and who you can help, get to Heaven. Show your children (and your grandchildren) what God is like.
Second, remember to take great care about wealth and money. Don’t live beyond your means. God will bless some of you with the talent to make money, and we hope that you in turn bless God’s Kingdom with that talent. On the other hand, there may be no greater threat to your spirituality than to become entangled by pursuing wealth and things. Jesus likened riches to weeds that can choke out the Word of God. Using Paul’s words to Timothy, remember that, “…godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Third, remember that Jesus is your salvation. You will fail many times over your lifetime. Remember that in Christ, failure is victory. You will glorify God if you remain in His grace. There is no failure, mistake, or sin from which Christ is unable to redeem you. God is always, ALWAYS waiting on you.
Finally, remember that we faculty, your COBA family and your Christian brothers and sisters love you. Hold each other accountable. Be transparent with weakness. Show strength by reaching out to others for help. Although you are graduating, treat us as a “city of refuge” to which you will travel to share both joy and sorrow. Be good stewards of the reputation you now have as MACC program graduates.
With paraphrased words of our Savior from many years ago, Dear Father:Bless us to be poor in spirit, for ours is the kingdom of heaven. Bless us to be mournful, for we will be comforted. Bless us to be meek, for we will inherit the earth. Bless us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, for we will be filled. Bless us to be merciful, for we will be shown mercy. Bless us to be pure in heart, for we will see God. Bless us to be peacemakers, for we will be called sons (and daughters) of God. Bless us as we are persecuted because of righteousness, ours is the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
The MAcc Class of 2018
Graduates, your adventure begins now. Congratulations to the Master of Accountancy graduating class of 2018!
To download and/or order prints of pictures from the luncheon, click here.
Personal Financial Planning (FIN 416) is an introduction to the methodology and discipline of personal financial planning. The class focuses on the comprehensive and ongoing planning process that seeks to quantify personal financial objectives. Dr. Kyle Tippens has taught Personal Financial Planning for several years. Tippens was personally motivated to teach this class because it covers a topic that he has always been interested in and researched. He had spent a lot of time talking with his colleagues about real-world financial matters that affected them and is always trying to figure out how to save for the future in the best way possible.
Dr. Kyle Tippens, Professor
In Personal Financial Planning, Tippens begins with what the Bible has to say about money. “We talk a lot about stewardship, giving, and what those mean for those who live a life called to Christ and practical ways to put those in practice,” said Tippens. Students learn how to plan for themselves and about all of the seemingly-daunting financial decisions they will soon start to make. They learn about savings and checking accounts, budgeting, what insurance to buy or not buy, how to save for retirement, estate planning, and much more. Tippens wants students to understand that finances do not have to be overwhelming. Breaking it down into pieces helps to demystify finances and students often realize that it is not as complicated as people make it seem. “Students often describe this class as the learning-how-to-be-an-adult class,” said Tippens. “At the bottom line, it is about how to be out in the real world and not be overwhelmed by all of the choices that will be available to you.”
Many students who have taken Personal Financial Planning have contacted Tippens after graduation and tell him how they have used materials from the class just weeks after graduating and feel more ready and prepared than most of their peers. Aric Wilson, a sophomore management major from The Woodlands, is currently taking Personal Financial Planning. “I was amazed by how many everyday things that I will definitely need to know after graduation that I had no clue about,” noted Wilson. “This class is about life and how to succeed in the future and I feel much more prepared for taking it.” Wilson also appreciated how Tippens teaches the class using personal examples from his life and believes that the reason he gets so much out of the class is the way Tippens works hard to teach it in relatable ways. Even though there are so many practical topics that are thoroughly covered and explained in Personal Financial Planning, Tippens hopes that a student’s biggest takeaway from the class is the importance of generosity, saving, and living beneath their means.
Another unique aspect of Personal Financial Planning that it has no prerequisites, which is very unusual for a 400-level finance class. “Regardless of your major,” explained Tippens. “If you focus on the class you will do well. There are no incredible math skills necessary.” For this reason, Personal Financial Planning is a popular elective all around campus. Students of all majors have registered for the class to learn more about preparing for their future. Olivia Dahl, a senior biology major from Round Rock, took Personal Financial Planning because she wanted to be prepared to succeed financially, especially as she enters medical school soon. Dahl believes that this class is the most practical one she has taken during her time at ACU and would encourage others to take this class because it is an easy way to be exposed to important information. “Dr. Tippens made it easy and painless to learn,” Dahl said. “It was obvious that he wanted to give us this information so that we could be prepared for the future. I would tell every student that has room in their degree plan to take this course.”
Personal Financial Planning is offered in both the fall and the spring. There are no class prerequisites but, to enroll, a student must have already completed 72 earned hours. The practical nature of the class and the dedicated, Christ-centered instruction from Dr. Tippens make Personal Financial Planning an invaluable class to students from every major at ACU.