Student Spotlight

iMSA students come from many different walks of life. Each semester, we highlight several students to give you a better understanding of what the iMSA program is like from a current student’s perspective.

Student Spotlight

April 2019

iMSA students come from many different walks of life. Each semester, we highlight several students to give you a better understanding of what the iMSA program is like from a current student’s perspective.

Haley Boyd

Current Job Title: Accounting Administrator
Company/Organization: SC-B Consulting, Inc.
Industry/Sector: Government
Program Start Date: Spring 2019
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Haley

Favorite Part of the Program: The flexibility! I love that I can watch the live sessions at a later date. It allows me to go to my son’s basketball games and take my daughter to ballet class without feeling like I’m missing out.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The fast paced nature of the program. I sometimes take a little longer to process everything and sometimes need more practice to understand things. This program moves very quickly, so it’s important to stay on task and spread the work throughout the week. It can be overwhelming to balance work, my family, and the classes.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? Schedule your homework, readings, and quizzes throughout the week, so that you’re not overwhelmed on the weekends. It’s much easier to complete everything in small increments.
Fun Fact about Yourself: Here are a few! 1. I grew up on a farm so I love the outdoors. 2. I have three children ages 14, 12, and 5. 3. My dream is to own my own business and live on the beach someday.

Haley Boyd

Current Job Title: Accounting Administrator
Company/Organization: SC-B Consulting, Inc.
Industry/Sector: Government
Program Start Date: Spring 2019
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Haley

Favorite Part of the Program: The flexibility! I love that I can watch the live sessions at a later date. It allows me to go to my son’s basketball games and take my daughter to ballet class without feeling like I’m missing out.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The fast paced nature of the program. I sometimes take a little longer to process everything and sometimes need more practice to understand things. This program moves very quickly, so it’s important to stay on task and spread the work throughout the week. It can be overwhelming to balance work, my family, and the classes.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? Schedule your homework, readings, and quizzes throughout the week, so that you’re not overwhelmed on the weekends. It’s much easier to complete everything in small increments.
Fun Fact about Yourself: Here are a few! 1. I grew up on a farm so I love the outdoors. 2. I have three children ages 14, 12, and 5. 3. My dream is to own my own business and live on the beach someday.

David Lee

Current Job Title: Internal Audit Manager
Company/Organization: Metra
Industry/Sector: Commuter Rail/Public Sector
Program Start Date: Spring 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about David

Favorite Part of the Program: My favorite part about the program is interacting with the other students. Being an online program, I’ve met so many people from across the globe and really find their perspectives incredibly interesting. There’s nothing like talking to someone across the globe through Zoom about a group project while both of you are sitting at home having a cup of coffee.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The most challenging part is definitely completing this program while working a full-time job. Plus, my wife and I are expecting our first child. It’s definitely been tough to say the least. But the program being online really helps with this. I’ve been able to log online and watch Coursera videos and prior lectures that I’ve missed during my lunch breaks and doctor’s visits. Without it being online, there would probably be no way that I could finish or even attempt to pursue my MSA.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? I would say that first, yes it is tough, especially if you’re working full-time and just have life happen along the way. However, the program director, Martin Maurer, and the assistant director Ashley Lamb are really awesome. They’re open and willing to hear both positive and negative experiences you’ve had along the way. This program is already pretty amazing and they definitely want to make sure it consistently improves so it continuously meets the needs and requirements of future MSA students.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I love reading about ancient Roman history, and I’m a huge history buff. The political leaders, wars, and personal story lines are incredibly fascinating and really can be seen in today’s western civilization.

David Lee

Current Job Title: Internal Audit Manager
Company/Organization: Metra
Industry/Sector: Commuter Rail/Public Sector
Program Start Date: Spring 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about David

Favorite Part of the Program: My favorite part about the program is interacting with the other students. Being an online program, I’ve met so many people from across the globe and really find their perspectives incredibly interesting. There’s nothing like talking to someone across the globe through Zoom about a group project while both of you are sitting at home having a cup of coffee.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The most challenging part is definitely completing this program while working a full-time job. Plus, my wife and I are expecting our first child. It’s definitely been tough to say the least. But the program being online really helps with this. I’ve been able to log online and watch Coursera videos and prior lectures that I’ve missed during my lunch breaks and doctor’s visits. Without it being online, there would probably be no way that I could finish or even attempt to pursue my MSA.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? I would say that first, yes it is tough, especially if you’re working full-time and just have life happen along the way. However, the program director, Martin Maurer, and the assistant director Ashley Lamb are really awesome. They’re open and willing to hear both positive and negative experiences you’ve had along the way. This program is already pretty amazing and they definitely want to make sure it consistently improves so it continuously meets the needs and requirements of future MSA students.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I love reading about ancient Roman history, and I’m a huge history buff. The political leaders, wars, and personal story lines are incredibly fascinating and really can be seen in today’s western civilization.

Melanie Baricante

Current Job Title: Operations Manager
Company/Organization: Frontrunner Financial Consultancy
Industry/Sector: Accounting/Finance
Program Start Date: Spring 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Melanie

Favorite Part of the Program: Being able to join a prestigious program from the other side of the world is a rare opportunity. The program content has proven to be a key component in my success, so far, toward obtaining my U.S. CPA designation. I like that I’m able to achieve two career objectives with the same set of efforts: one to obtain my CPA designation and the other, to receive a master’s degree. Knowing that the program has the best professors in the field gives me confidence that I am in good hands in this journey. Despite the distance, I like that there is still a sense of belonging when you interact with classmates and professors in live sessions, group projects and discussion forums. The biggest privilege that I enjoy is the freedom to plan around course deliverables, to study course content, and to go through the deadlines at my own pace and time.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The most challenging part for me is juggling assignments and even final exams when they also fall within my CPA exam week! I have learned to really plan well in advance to accommodate these without overwhelming myself.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? Formal training, skills and experience are investments that are expected when we pursue a serious career in the accounting field. It comes in many forms and in my case, at this point, I chose academics. My advice for someone looking to pursue the program is that if you’ve been wanting to attend a Master of Science in Accountancy program, the University of Illinois’ iMSA program is one of the best options available. If you narrow it down further to universities offering reasonably-priced full distance learning, the iMSA is hands-down #1 on the list given the university’s outstanding track record in its accountancy program. The other criteria I was considering while choosing which university to attend was the culture shared within the campus. I like what I saw when I had a tiny glimpse of this while narrowing down my search for a university and even more so when I had the chance to visit the campus and personally meet classmates, faculty, and staff.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I love dogs, but it was never like this until I had to temporarily take care of an adorable and affectionate pug. That same charming creature now lives with me and my husband permanently. I think that we will always have a canine member in the family.

Melanie Baricante

Current Job Title: Operations Manager
Company/Organization: Frontrunner Financial Consultancy
Industry/Sector: Accounting/Finance
Program Start Date: Spring 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Melanie

Favorite Part of the Program: Being able to join a prestigious program from the other side of the world is a rare opportunity. The program content has proven to be a key component in my success, so far, toward obtaining my U.S. CPA designation. I like that I’m able to achieve two career objectives with the same set of efforts: one to obtain my CPA designation and the other, to receive a master’s degree. Knowing that the program has the best professors in the field gives me confidence that I am in good hands in this journey. Despite the distance, I like that there is still a sense of belonging when you interact with classmates and professors in live sessions, group projects and discussion forums. The biggest privilege that I enjoy is the freedom to plan around course deliverables, to study course content, and to go through the deadlines at my own pace and time.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The most challenging part for me is juggling assignments and even final exams when they also fall within my CPA exam week! I have learned to really plan well in advance to accommodate these without overwhelming myself.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? Formal training, skills and experience are investments that are expected when we pursue a serious career in the accounting field. It comes in many forms and in my case, at this point, I chose academics. My advice for someone looking to pursue the program is that if you’ve been wanting to attend a Master of Science in Accountancy program, the University of Illinois’ iMSA program is one of the best options available. If you narrow it down further to universities offering reasonably-priced full distance learning, the iMSA is hands-down #1 on the list given the university’s outstanding track record in its accountancy program. The other criteria I was considering while choosing which university to attend was the culture shared within the campus. I like what I saw when I had a tiny glimpse of this while narrowing down my search for a university and even more so when I had the chance to visit the campus and personally meet classmates, faculty, and staff.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I love dogs, but it was never like this until I had to temporarily take care of an adorable and affectionate pug. That same charming creature now lives with me and my husband permanently. I think that we will always have a canine member in the family.

Kevin Baker

Current Job Title: Manager
Company/Organization: Surgical Care Affiliates
Industry/Sector: Healthcare
Program Start Date: Spring 2019
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Kevin

Favorite Part of the Program: Live sessions are the best!
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: Balancing the study time with work and personal responsibilities. As a part-time student, you have to accept the fact that you won’t have much of a life once the semester starts.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? Don’t fret over the online experience. I was blown away by the technology and the iMSA staff engagement. Stay organized and be diligent in tackling a little bit of work every day.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I volunteer for a non-profit medical mission organization based in Honduras.

Kevin Baker

Current Job Title: Manager
Company/Organization: Surgical Care Affiliates
Industry/Sector: Healthcare
Program Start Date: Spring 2019
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Kevin

Favorite Part of the Program: Live sessions are the best!
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: Balancing the study time with work and personal responsibilities. As a part-time student, you have to accept the fact that you won’t have much of a life once the semester starts.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? Don’t fret over the online experience. I was blown away by the technology and the iMSA staff engagement. Stay organized and be diligent in tackling a little bit of work every day.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I volunteer for a non-profit medical mission organization based in Honduras.

Qian Wang

Current Job Title: Financial Analyst
Company/Organization: Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center
Industry/Sector: Healthcare
Program Start Date: Spring 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Qian

Favorite Part of the Program: The faculty members of the iMSA program bring world-class accounting experiences and knowledge to the programs. They make complicated accounting concepts digestible and fun to learn.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The iMSA program provides plenty of opportunities to engage with the class through projects, live sessions, and online discussions. At the same time, I find that my acquired knowledge allows me to take on more responsibility at work. Being an accounting professional, the most challenging part is balancing the time between the iMSA program and my job.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? The iMSA is a rigorous program requiring both time commitment and determination but all the hard work will pay off in the end.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I was a semi-professional speed skating athlete for 10 years.

Qian Wang

Current Job Title: Financial Analyst
Company/Organization: Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center
Industry/Sector: Healthcare
Program Start Date: Spring 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Qian

Favorite Part of the Program: The faculty members of the iMSA program bring world-class accounting experiences and knowledge to the programs. They make complicated accounting concepts digestible and fun to learn.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The iMSA program provides plenty of opportunities to engage with the class through projects, live sessions, and online discussions. At the same time, I find that my acquired knowledge allows me to take on more responsibility at work. Being an accounting professional, the most challenging part is balancing the time between the iMSA program and my job.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? The iMSA is a rigorous program requiring both time commitment and determination but all the hard work will pay off in the end.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I was a semi-professional speed skating athlete for 10 years.

Cristian Munarriz

Current Job Title: Audit Supervisor
Company/Organization: BDO Argentina
Industry/Sector: Public Accounting/Audit
Program Start Date: Fall 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Cristian

Favorite Part of the Program: The opportunity to interact with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds and its practice-oriented approach.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The most challenging part is finding a balance with work obligations during audit season (January- March), which is extremely busy. Fortunately, the program is very flexible so I can work on the materials when it is convenient for me.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? I think you should consider your professional and personal goals and interests and how the iMSA program can help you achieve them. I think the flexibility of the program is very useful for people with a lot of family responsibilities, or with a heavy or unpredictable work/travel schedule. It is also a great opportunity for people living outside the U.S. to study in a U.S. environment without leaving home.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I am from Argentina, and the economic environment here is very different compared to the United States. It feels strange sometimes when I read financial information in assignments or classes which is not affected by high rates of inflation or extreme foreign currency fluctuations.

Cristian Munarriz

Current Job Title: Audit Supervisor
Company/Organization: BDO Argentina
Industry/Sector: Public Accounting/Audit
Program Start Date: Fall 2018
Graduation Date/Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Read More about Cristian

Favorite Part of the Program: The opportunity to interact with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds and its practice-oriented approach.
Most challenging part of your iMSA experience: The most challenging part is finding a balance with work obligations during audit season (January- March), which is extremely busy. Fortunately, the program is very flexible so I can work on the materials when it is convenient for me.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue the iMSA? I think you should consider your professional and personal goals and interests and how the iMSA program can help you achieve them. I think the flexibility of the program is very useful for people with a lot of family responsibilities, or with a heavy or unpredictable work/travel schedule. It is also a great opportunity for people living outside the U.S. to study in a U.S. environment without leaving home.
Fun Fact about Yourself: I am from Argentina, and the economic environment here is very different compared to the United States. It feels strange sometimes when I read financial information in assignments or classes which is not affected by high rates of inflation or extreme foreign currency fluctuations.