Lexi Koon is a senior accounting and management major with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Denver, Colorado. She is in the integrated Masters of Accountancy program and wants to pursue a career as a CPA after graduation. We asked Lexi a few questions about her time at ACU. Read her answers below!
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!”
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
In 2015, Tolleson Wealth Management, Inc. created the Tolleson Scholars COBA Endowment Fund to give scholarship awards in the amount of $5,000 each year to two deserving COBA students. To be considered, students must have completed 75 credit hours toward their degree, but also have at least 30 credit hours remaining to complete their degree. The award also is meant to be awarded to students recognized as top academic performers as well as excellent role models in terms of their Christian commitment and moral behavior. To be considered for the award, students submitted an essay reflecting on a time when they were a role model and exhibited commitment to their Christian faith. The recipients of this year’s awards are Brandon Gonzales, senior accounting major from Rowlett, TX and Megan Young, senior accounting major from Burleson, TX.
Brandon wrote about his experience volunteering with Operation Blessing, an international relief and development non-profit, after tornadoes destroyed much of the Rockwall, Rowlett, and Garland areas on December 26th of 2015. Brandon and his friends went door to door with the relief operation, asking residents what help they needed as well as consoling and praying with them. He said that, “It was eye opening to see everyone come together to help people they had never met and would likely never see again when they could have been spending their holiday break with family. I was only with my group for a couple of days and although we may not have been able to fix all the problems we came across, I learned how powerful even the smallest actions can be”. When asked about receiving the Tolleson Scholar Award, Brandon said, “Winning this scholarship was truly an unexpected blessing for my family and I. Being the first in my family to attend a university and with my graduation date on the horizon, this award is another reminder that I couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of the ACU community and the friends that I have made along the way.”
Megan wrote about serving with her church on an unexpected mission trip to Rio Bravo, Mexico during the spring break of her senior year. She told of how her church had been raising money for a kidney and liver transplant for the Rio Bravo congregation’s church liaison to the Burleson church, Jorge. Jorge and his family moved to Burleson temporarily while he received medical care. Megan said that they became “mi familia” as they grew very close to one another. During this time, the church raised half of the money needed but Jorge died two days after Christmas while waiting for a transplant. Megan said that the trip to Rio Bravo was the first time she would see Jorge’s family since his death and she was uncertain about the meeting. However, she and the Burleson mission team were greeted warmly by the family and the church and much healing happened as they worked side by side building an addition to the church building that Jorge once led. She said, “At the end of the week, the church threw a big party for our mission team. The church members and Jorge’s family were so grateful for all we had done. That’s when I realized the full scope of what God had planned for me that week. I wasn’t there just to do hard work; I was there to be part of the healing process. I was there to help this small church move forward after the death of Jorge. I was there to let his family know that we were still “familia”. Most of all, I was there to show God’s love and grace to our dear friends across the border”. When asked what receiving the Tolleson Award meant to her, Megan said, “I am so honored to be receiving the Tolleson Scholarship. This award will assist me in completing my BBA in accounting and start on my goal of attaining my Masters of Accountancy. Thank you to the donors for their generosity and support!”
Megan and Brandon represent well the student body that makes up the College of Business Administration (COBA). Our students serve in various volunteer capacities throughout the year, using the skills and lessons they’ve learned in the classroom to help organizations like non-profits and churches. Using business to do good – it’s a value COBA strives to integrate in and out of the classroom. Generous donors make college tuition scholarships and experiences like Leadership Summit or service trips to destinations like Mission Lazarus possible. COBA has approximately 50 scholarship and endowment funds that, this year alone, provided financial help to over 120 COBA students. We are so thankful for the generosity of our friends and donors who help us continue our mission of educating business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. If you would like to learn more about giving to COBA scholarship funds, please email email@example.com.
Dr. Brad Crisp officially began his tenure as the Dean of the College of Business Administration in June and has been building an agenda since for his new role. One of the items on that agenda has been to reach out to and connect with alumni from the College of Business and the School of Information Technology and Computing, giving alumni and friends an opportunity to meet or reacquaint themselves with Dr. Crisp as well as learning more about the state of our college and what our plans are for the future. Thus, the idea for the “Meet the Dean Tour” was born and implemented in partnership with the Alumni Relations Office.
The tour began in Abilene with 56 alumni and friends and at each stop, Dr. Crisp illustrated ACU’s long standing success in business education and our recent path of progress with our School of IT and Computing. Along with our first event in Abilene, alumni and friends gathered in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Silicon Valley at networking breakfasts and lunches. Alumni who graduated within the past 10 years were invited to join Dr. Crisp for a “Beat the Dean” event at Top Golf in several of these cities, as they attempted to best the new Dean. It was a fun time of networking and Dr. Crisp was able to withstand the challenge brought by our young alums.
Not only were we able to reconnect with alumni, but we also met with parents of current students as well as prospective students and their families as they sought to learn more about the College and our programs and opportunities. Recent graduates were hard at work at these events, helping us connect students to internships and job opportunities in their organization. Alumni who have risen to leadership roles in their companies expressed their desire to create and sustain pipelines of ACU talent to their organizations. Many of our alums shared stories of the encouragement and strengthening they received both professionally and personally while attending ACU. They were encouraged by Dr. Crisp’s consistent reference to our heritage of business excellence, rooted in our personal commitment to living out the mission of Christ and bringing this mission to the workplace.
Today, Dr. Crisp leads a College offering 5 business degrees and 4 technology degrees at our Abilene campus, the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy which is leading the nation in student engagement for entrepreneurship programs, and the new Lytle Center for Leadership and Faith Development which is continuing our Distinguished Speaker Series and Leadership Summit course. The reach of ACU’s mission to educate Christian servants and leaders has expanded with the on-line MBA program, offered through the ACU Dallas campus in addition to our residential Master of Accountancy program and additional on-line graduate programs are in the discussion phase. The College of Business enjoyed an enrollment of exactly 1,000 total students this fall and is positioned for additional growth. Our Master of Accountancy and Computer Science programs supply a steady stream of employers coming to campus to interview for talent as the changing landscape of business is driven by technology and entrepreneurship, demanding ethical leaders in this rapidly transforming environment.
The opportunity to begin Dr. Crisp’s tenure by connecting with alumni was emphasized by an intentional effort to listen to and involve alumni and friends in our efforts to develop the next generation of business and technology servant leaders. All in attendance were encouraged to give us feedback via an on-line survey. If you were unable to attend one of the stops but would like to give feedback as we continue to shape the direction and future of ACU’s College of Business and School of Information Technology and Computing, please fill out the survey by clicking on this link.
Your support of our work to educate business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world is a great encouragement to us and we cannot achieve our goals without support from alumni and friends. Thank you!