Mentoring program for School of Accounting marks start of second year.

Learning how to interact with real professionals in the workplace is just one advantage that student Rolando Chavez has discovered from having a mentor.

Chavez, a senior accounting major in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU), has Gary Opper (MST ’83), CPA, as a mentor. Opper is managing member of Levie-Opper LLC and president of the Accounting Alumni Council (AAC), formerly known as the School of Accounting Alumni Affinity Council (SOAAAC).

“Courses teach the process of accounting and having a mentor helps you understand the work environment,” said Chavez, who hopes to pursue law school and then obtain a position with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “It’s nice to have someone guide you on the right professional path.”

Gary Opper and Rolando Chavez often meet in Opper’s office.

Thirty mentor-mentee relationships were celebrated at a breakfast on April 20, 2011, marking the start of the second year of the School of Accounting Mentorship Program.

Ruth Ann McEwen, the school’s director, welcomed the group; accounting student Jeffrey Kellogg spoke about his experience in the inaugural program; and Diego Suarez (MACC ’06, BACC ’05) AAC vice president, introduced this year’s program, which has a more proactive approach including quarterly follow-ups with participants.

Mentoring provides powerful way to give back, influence futures.

Opper remembers why he helped start the school’s mentoring program and become a mentor himself.

Gary Opper

“As a young man, I called the famous tax attorney Norman Lipoff, out of the blue, and he took me under his wing, never asking for anything in return,” Opper said. “I decided that when I was old enough I would do the same thing.”

He often communicates with Chavez and a second mentee, Anna Finale, and takes them out for meals. They visit Opper’s office and attend meetings and lectures that he conducts.

“As a mentor you can change a life for the better or have your life changed,” said Opper, who has written articles on mentoring. “We continue an ancient tradition of elders passing their knowledge on to a new generation.”

Chavez appreciates that he and Opper “developed a relationship that goes further than just accounting. He mentored me on how to be a better person.”

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