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.”
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.
“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.”