Cal State Fullerton’s accounting education programs are committed to providing the most efficient, thorough and relevant introduction to the field possible.
Alexis Rock is part of the GAP 4+1 Guaranteed Accounting program, a partnership between Irvine Valley College, a community college in South Orange County, and Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College, enabling students to complete their associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting within an accelerated format. Students can go from high school graduation to a master’s degree in only five years.
Rock, who is also an administrative and research assistant at Mihaylo College’s Center for Corporate Reporting and Governance, an industry- and academic-focused center providing continuing education and development for professionals, was a participant in the cutting-edge, first in the nation collaboration with robotic process automation firm UiPath in spring 2019, which brought next-generation automation into the classroom.
Taking the Fast-Track to an Accounting Education: The Impact of GAP 4+1
Rock began her higher education in the Guaranteed Accounting Program at Irvine Valley College and plans to earn a graduate degree in taxation or business analytics from Mihaylo College in 2022. Currently, she is working toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration – accounting. She believes the program has provided unique advantages and opportunities.
“To start with the freshman advantages, you come into college already having a support network,” says Rock. “We have reserved seating in all of our classes so we can take courses with fellow members of the program as a cohort. We also have tutoring for any subject, including private tutoring for accounting classes. These are such great advantages because getting classes as a freshman can be very difficult and getting help in a class can be daunting. So having the program guide us makes this transition a lot easier.”
While career networking may be years in the future for many freshmen, GAP 4+1 students get a head start in their first year, which Rock feels is the greatest advantage.
“We are members of the CSUF Accounting Society from our freshman year, so we have the opportunity to attend Meet the Firms and speaker meetings from our first year,” she says. “This allows us to start networking early and build more meaningful connections with faculty, professionals and peers. This program is for students who are eager to work hard and explore what the accounting profession has to offer.”
The GAP 4+1 program recently began partnerships with Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) to further enable students to recruit with the CSUF chapter as freshmen.
Combined with her employment at Mihaylo College and research assistant role, Rock has had the opportunity to work with and learn from many professionals because of her involvement.
“I am learning from real-world situations and have to work through problems that do not have an answer key,” she says. “These experiences have allowed me to practice critical thinking and analysis in real time.”
Preparing for the Brave New World of Robotics
As artificial intelligence (AI) holds the potential to transform the 21st century workplace, Rock and other Mihaylo College accounting students had an exclusive look at the opportunities robotics offers in accounting as part of the first higher education collaboration with robotics process automation (RPA) software company UiPath.
The graduate-level course, in which Rock served as a research assistant to Lecturer April Morris ’75, tasked students with developing their own automation scripts.
“The students tasked me and the other research assistants with collecting data on every zip code in the U.S., including population size, median income and average age,” says Rock. “Using UiPath’s software, we built a software robot to collect the data from the census website directly.”
Though Rock went in to the experience without any expectations beyond getting acquainted with accounting software, the course turned out to be much more for the research assistant.
“Once we got working on the bot, we couldn’t stop,” she recalls. “I plan to keep learning as much as I can about robotics and I want to build a career in which I can continue using RPA, while keeping current with new technologies.”
Rock looks forward to working in an accounting firm and is considering a focus on taxation. She also is committed to growth and education throughout her career.
“I hope to be able to continue my education throughout my life, working in a firm that encourages lifelong learning,” she says. “I don’t see my education as ever having an end point.”
When not studying, working and networking, Rock enjoys global travel. “My parents have worked hard to give me and my siblings a diverse and global upbringing, and it has stuck with me,” she says. “I love traveling to countries where I can practice my Spanish. My favorite destination was Malaga, Spain. This past winter, I experienced Machu Picchu in Peru. Next winter, I’m hoping to learn some Italian when I visit Italy!”
For More on Mihaylo College Accounting
Mihaylo College, the only school in Orange County and one of five schools in California to hold dual accreditation in both business administration and accounting, offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting and related fields.
The college integrates career and professional development every step of the way, ensuring maximum readiness for students as they embark on their futures.