Judy Miranda poses outside of the Titan Student Union on the campus of Cal State FullertonAmong the thousands of Cal State Fullerton business students to walk at the 2021 commencement was Judy Miranda (accounting and finance), who earned her bachelor’s degree after nearly a decade and a half of career experience, including her most recent role at Disney Music Group.

Miranda shares her experience, the impact of her CSUF education, her current career and future plans, and her advice to fellow Titans taking a less traditional path to their higher education.

You started college at CSUF in 2007 and then returned in 2015 to finish your joint emphasis in accounting and finance. During those intervening years, you worked in several different jobs, including positions at Disney. Tell us about the challenges and benefits of returning to CSUF as a full-time student. 

Returning to college in 2015 was a complete culture shock. Some of the challenges I faced were trying to balance school and work. I needed to work a certain amount of hours to make ends meet while trying to take enough classes so that I could finish within a four-to six-year period. Finding time to balance all of that with studying, homework, projects and family was difficult. However, going back to college made me appreciate every moment more – I am not getting any younger so there really is no time to waste. But I also learned through all my work experience how to manage my time efficiently, finding opportunity costs, and just focusing on what I wanted.

What is one significant thing you have gained during your time at CSUF? 

Besides a degree, I gained the knowledge that networking and creating relationships is very important in the long run. All it takes is one person to believe in you, and that can be a huge difference in getting a job offer, finding help of any kind, or even just getting some great advice.

How do you believe your joint emphasis in accounting and finance will help you in your career? And do you plan to continue with Disney?

I wanted to work for a company and be part of something bigger. Accounting focuses on the past and the present while finance is more forward looking. Having knowledge on both ends allows me to be a better asset to companies and make decisions that will contribute to the success of whatever company I work for.

However, I do plan to stay with Disney. I want to move into a senior role and eventually become a manager so I can support others like myself. I have to personally thank my wonderful managers and peers at Disney for supporting my decision to go back to college and working around my schedule so that I could work full time and go to school full time without completely losing my mind. Without them and the support of my husband and family, this would not have been possible.

Tell us about your role working as a financial accounting analyst at Disney Music Group.

I started my career as a financial accounting analyst with the Disney Music Group in February 2021. I wanted to know what accounting was all about and I applied for this role with that in mind. I was also motivated by my love for music. Accounting tends to have a bad reputation for being boring. But I wanted to know for myself what it’s like. To my surprise, accounting is actually really interesting! Within my role, I primarily recognize revenue from all sorts of companies for recorded music. Music is very complex, and it requires many participants who all need to be compensated, so we have many teams that handle the different parts of the music industry.

What advice would you give to other reentry students?

I want all the working adults, parents or anyone who dropped out of college early on to know that it is never too late to go back! The community colleges and the universities, such as CSUF, have programs and offer financial assistance for working students. There are also so many scholarship opportunities and resources. Take a leap of faith and go back to get that degree!