Student Spotlight: Joshua Punchur, MSA Candidate


Joshua Punchur

MSA Candidate, Part-time student

Undergraduate degree in: Urban Studies/Urban Management

Undergraduate School: University of Pittsburgh

Organizations involved with: UIC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Moneythink, New Leash on Life Chicago

LinkedIn Profile

What prompted you to return to school to achieve your master’s degree?

After moving to Chicago to work for a non-profit small business development center, I found that many of our clients needed accounting assistance before they could obtain financial assistance. Obtaining an MSA seemed like a perfect opportunity to improve my communication skills so that I could help entrepreneurs make better business decisions.

What was the most important factor for you in choosing an MBA program (or factors you considered)?

Since I chose the MSA program instead of an MBA, I was most interested in finding an institution that would do a very good job for preparing me for the CPA exam.  Other factors that I considered were affordability and whether the school was located in a place where I would want to spend my free time.

Why did you choose UIC Liautaud for your graduate study?

Liautaud provides the best value for Illinois’ residents who want to study accounting in a big city setting. Liautaud grads have some of the best pass rates for the CPA exam in Illinois. I also always had great experiences working with Liautaud alumni, so I figured that my classmates would be fun to work with.

Since you have started the program, what has been the most unexpected gain the program has given you?

Taking Professor Kirschenheiter’s course on corporate valuation gave me a new perspective on how investors place value on business activities. This definitely has an impact on how I communicate with my pre-venture clients who come in to discuss their business ideas at the small business development center.

The UIC Liautaud professors are continuously involved in researching new business trends and innovations. How have you felt the professors have been able to integrate their theoretical knowledge into practical applications? 

My Data Mining class allowed students a lot of flexibility to search for new trends in customer behavior. Being on the cutting edge of predictive analytics also helped dispel old myths about how people react to particular situations.

Which class/professor has been your favorite thus far and why?

Ram Ramakrishnan can sometimes be difficult to keep up with, but I’ve always liked how accessible he is and how much he fosters conversation within the classroom. I expect that I’ll continue reviewing his course websites even after leaving Liautaud.

What is your favorite aspect of the UIC campus and why?

As an undergrad, I was most interested in studying how older industrial cities transformed themselves. UIC’s Chicago location and history is one of my favorite aspects of studying at UIC Liautaud. Being able to work out of the Rice building as a graduate assistant has also been a neat experience.

How would you define the Liautaud student?

Liautaud students are pretension free so it makes it much easier to connect with them and get to work on the gritty details of business operations.

What advice would you provide to incoming UIC Liautaud students?

Seek out Professor Popowits for help with your professional presence. He’ll do a great job preparing you so that you can act comfortably in any situation.