Student Spotlight: Diana Sanchez, MSA Candidate 2014


Diana Sanchez

Full-time MSA Candidate 2014

Industry/Field of work: Accounting-Auditing

Undergraduate degree in: Accounting & Management Information Systems

Undergraduate School: University of Illinois at Chicago

Career Goal: To become the leading partner at my company

Organizations involved with: Accounting Club


Interests/Hobbies: Fishing, swimming, exploring in the woods, exercising and body building, participating in marathons, running with my dogs, shopping, watching movies, and cooking new recipes

Internships: The Children’s Place Association - Staff Accountant Assistant Intern, Chicago Transit Authority - Program Management & Technology Resource Intern, Chicago Transit Authority - Finance/Comptroller’s Office Intern, Crowe Horwath - Audit Intern

Favorite Chicago Activities:  Segway tour of Chicago and the architecture river cruise

Favorite Chicago Restaurants: Benihanas, Damenzos, Lalos, Café Iberico, and Fogo de Chao

Hometown: Southeast side of Chicago


Tell us about your personal and professional background.

Personal: I come from a Mexican heritage family. I grew up on the Southeast side of Chicago, about ten minutes away from Hammond, Indiana. I am the first of my family to attend college, and I am very proud of that because growing up was a struggle in my family. 

Professional: I started working at the age of 14 as a Loan Officer Assistant with Charter One Bank. It was a summer job that I liked very much. After that, I spent five years working as a Retail Clerk with Hyman’s Ace Hardware. While working for Ace Hardware, I was also working as a Tax Associate with H&R Block for the 2011 tax season. After the tax season was over, I started working as a Staff Accountant Assistant Intern with the Children’s Place Association, which is a non-profit organization that helps low-income families find a home and provides them with financial assistance. After the staff intern position, I worked as a Technology Resource Intern with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in which I was deeply involved in providing resources to the managers of the various contracts that CTA was involved with. Within a year after working in the Project and Technology department, I was working as an intern in the Comptroller and Finance department. Most recently, I worked as an Audit Intern with Crowe Horwath which is one of the top ten accounting firms. I look forward to working as a full-time Auditor with Crowe Horwath and obtaining my CPA within the next year.                                     

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

The MSA program at UIC will help me achieve one of my short term goals, which is to pass the AICPA examination. The MSA program has classes that are designed to help students get prepared for the CPA exam, therefore the MSA program will give a student a higher chance of passing the CPA. A master’s degree in Accounting will give me an advantage of obtaining a management position right away, as I start working in an accounting firm. To be an auditor, I also need to be knowledgeable with all the phases of a company’s day to day business operations and the MSA program will also equip me with that knowledge. 

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

My favorite professor has been Debra Hopkins, who taught ACTG 535 Advanced Auditing and ACTG 484 International Accounting. I liked Debra Hopkins' class, because she is a very nice and highly intelligent professor that cares about the well-being of every one of her students. I like that Debra is highly committed to her classes, and she contributes so much to her students. Because of her great fostering teaching style, I have learned a lot from the two classes I took with her, and I feel confident about passing the FAR and Audit sections of the CPA exam. Most of all, Debra is an inspirational woman for any student who is in the accounting profession.

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

My favorite aspect of UIC is Douglas Hall and the newly remodeled 3rd floor quiet section of the UIC Richard Daley Library. I like Douglas Hall, because it connects with other buildings like Lincoln Hall and Grant Hall. I also like the individual study rooms that it has on all the floors, especially when dealing with group projects, because these rooms have a door and plenty of table space inside. I like the newly remodeled 3rd floor of the library, because not only is it a quiet study area, but the seating is right next to a gorgeous view of downtown Chicago.

What advice would you provide to incoming UIC Liautaud students?

The advice that I would provide to incoming UIC Liautaud students is to never give up. There may come times when life brings you obstacles that might make you think you want to give up. But don’t. I have always thought about the following quote, “When Life Brings You Lemons, Make Lemonade.” I can further advise students to never be afraid to ask questions, always be proactive in class, and read the required readings before class so you can get more involved in class discussions. Not only do you gain more insightful information from the lecture, but also it lets you ask meaningful questions that will help you clarify your questions or doubts. I would also advise students to take Professional Presence with professor Michael Popowitz, because this class will shape you as a professional and you can exponentially improve how you present and how you are perceived as a person. Before I took this class, I was shy to attend social gatherings and was afraid to approach strangers at networking events, but this class really helped me. Last and foremost, do not procrastinate. If you can try and complete the assigned assignments ahead of time that is even better.

Many courses require students to complete a project that applies course concepts to real world situations. If you have had a course project that was very insightful, what course was it for and what did you like about the project?

ACTG 525 Corporate Valuation provided me with a research/analysis project that I gained a lot of insight from. The project involved choosing an industry and analyzing three companies within the same industry. The project was divided in four different parts. The project required us to do strategic and competitive analysis, analyze the company’s financial performance and management approach, analyze the company’s 10-K, examine the company’s disclosure of executive compensation. Additionally we had to determine if the compensation was aligned with the company’s strategy, and most of all if the compensation was accurate and fair. Furthermore, we had to analyze the company’s corporate governance policies, and at the end of the project we had to provide the professor with our recommendation of what our company’s valuation would be for the next five years. What I liked about the project was that it increased my accounting and analyzing knowledge and it allowed me to understand how a company approaches ways to manage their success and create value for their shareholders.