Paul Araiza: Creating His Own Opportunities

Article ID: 696673

Released: 26-Jun-2018 3:05 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: University of California, Irvine, The Paul Merage School of Business

  • After serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul Araiza graduated in June 2018 with a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) from UCI's Paul Merage School of Business. • UCI Paul Merage School of BusinessAfter serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul Araiza graduated in June 2018 with a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) from UCI's Paul Merage School of Business. • UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Newswise — When Paul Araiza graduated in June 2018 with his Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) from the UCI Paul Merage School of Business, it culminated a decade-long educational journey spanning three schools, with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in between.

“There were times when I thought obviously I wasn’t going to finish,” he says, with a sense of relief in his voice.  Araiza describes the process he learned while serving in the Marines, “plan, execute, rinse and repeat,” a mantra which also serves him well on the home front.

Nine years ago, a professor at Long Beach Community College first introduced Araiza to the joy of accounting. “He taught me that if you are just looking for a big paycheck, then you’re sure to get it in accounting. But you won’t last long in the industry,” Araiza says.  “I can see an accounting career for myself for the long haul.”

Once he set his mind on a pathway, Araiza didn’t just wait for opportunities to come to him. He created them for himself by making cold calls or walking into an office wearing a suit and handing out his resume – and occasionally having the good fortune of encountering a fellow Marine who would help out.

This approach proved successful and he landed several internships. The first was at the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, where he implemented a lean accounting initiative.  He also did internships at the IRS, where he learned first-hand about taxes, and at the accounting firm MGO in Los Angeles, where he was part of the audit practice unit. Out of all the experiences, it was tax that most fascinated him.

“Tax is the most creative aspect of accounting,” he says. “I didn’t understand that until I saw it for myself at the IRS.”

Knowing that he wanted to become a CPA and that Veterans Affairs would fund his masters, he set about finding a program that was the best fit. Araiza, ever the planner, visited the Merage School four times before accepting an admissions offer from the MPAc program, and he was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing him. “I was looking for consistency in staff, statistics, and in what the students were saying as they went through their journey,” he says.

“It’s all about the staff,” Araiza states. “It matters to have a great reputation and be a great school, but it’s those relationships that really make the difference.”  He says the program staff and in-house career counselors have lived up to his expectations, helping him land a full-time job as a tax consultant at Deloitte.

Araiza FamilyIn addition to his training in the Marines, another major factor that keeps Araiza focused is his family. At one point, he, his mother, and his two children were all going to school at the same time. “I can definitely relate to what they’re going through with school,” he says. In her 60s, Araiza’s mom served as a huge inspiration to him by going to law school after a full career as a paralegal. His daughter Paige is currently in college and his son Nathan is finishing high school.

Araiza’s experience at UCI has given more than an education. It’s given him a new family: the Anteater family, which he says he will cherish long after graduation day. “The relationships I’ve made with faculty, students and advisors is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. Most of us are staying in the Orange County area, and though our paths may diverge, what we made here will last long beyond our time in the classroom.”

Caption: Paul Araiza with his two children, Nathan and Paige.  Araiza credits his family for keeping him focused.   

When Paul Araiza graduated in June 2018 with his Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) from the UCI Paul Merage School of Business, it culminated a decade-long educational journey spanning three schools, with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in between. “There were times when I thought obviously I wasn’t going to finish,” he says, with a sense of relief in his voice.  Araiza describes the process he learned while serving in the Marines, “plan, execute, rinse and repeat,” a mantra which also serves him well on the home front. Nine years ago, a professor at Long Beach Community College first introduced Araiza to the joy of accounting. “He taught me that if you are just looking for a big paycheck, then you’re sure to get it in accounting. But you won’t last long in the industry,” Araiza says.  “I can see an accounting career for myself for the long haul.” Once he set his mind on a pathway, Araiza didn’t just wait for opportunities to come to him. He created them for himself by making cold calls or walking into an office wearing a suit and handing out his resume – and occasionally having the good fortune of encountering a fellow Marine who would help out. This approach proved successful and he landed several internships. The first was at the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, where he implemented a lean accounting initiative.  He also did internships at the IRS, where he learned first-hand about taxes, and at the accounting firm MGO in Los Angeles, where he was part of the audit practice unit. Out of all the experiences, it was tax that most fascinated him. “Tax is the most creative aspect of accounting,” he says. “I didn’t understand that until I saw it for myself at the IRS.” Knowing that he wanted to become a CPA and that Veterans Affairs would fund his masters, he set about finding a program that was the best fit. Araiza, ever the planner, visited the Merage School four times before accepting an admissions offer from the MPAc program, and he was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing him. “I was looking for consistency in staff, statistics, and in what the students were saying as they went through their journey,” he says. “It’s all about the staff,” Araiza states. “It matters to have a great reputation and be a great school, but it’s those relationships that really make the difference.”  He says the program staff and in-house career counselors have lived up to his expectations, helping him land a full-time job as a tax consultant at Deloitte. In addition to his training in the Marines, another major factor that keeps Araiza focused is his family. At one point, he, his mother, and his two children were all going to school at the same time. “I can definitely relate to what they’re going through with school,” he says. In her 60s, Araiza’s mom served as a huge inspiration to him by going to law school after a full career as a paralegal. His daughter Paige is currently in college and his son Nathan is finishing high school. Araiza’s experience at UCI has given more than an education. It’s given him a new family: the Anteater family, which he says he will cherish long after graduation day. “The relationships I’ve made with faculty, students and advisors is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. Most of us are staying in the Orange County area, and though our paths may diverge, what we made here will last long beyond our time in the classroom.” Caption: Paul Araiza with his two children, Nathan and Paige.  Araiza credits his family for keeping him focused.   


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