April 12, 2004
Student profile: Chris Lee is taking care of
By Jennifer McNulty
After two years of community college, Chris Lee was ready to transfer
to a UC campus. Accepted by Berkeley, Davis, and San Diego, Lee chose
UCSC because he had heard good things from his instructors at Diablo
Valley College about the attention and opportunities for undergraduates
Chris Lee, a business management economics major and president
of the University Economics Association, has become known among
other students as a helpful resource. Photo:
other outstanding UCSC students are available online.
I knew what I wanted to do, and Id gotten a feel for how
college worked, recalls Lee, who graduates in June with bachelors
degrees in business management economics and psychology. Id
developed my study skills, and when I came here, I was really ready
Lee discovered business during his first quarter.
I didnt understand what accounting, or business, was until
I began taking classes, says Lee. Its all about learning
how to talk business. I found I really enjoyed it.
Gregarious and poised, Lee joined the 100-member University Economics
Association (UEA) as public relations chairman during his first year
on campus, and has worked tirelessly on behalf of econ students ever
since, most recently as president of the group. Thanks to Lees
persistence, Ernest & Young joined the other top international accounting
firms that recruit UCSC students.
If you go to UC Berkeley, you dont have to prove to anybody
that you got a good education, but I wanted to show Ernest & Young
that Santa Cruz has got it going on, says Lee. I kept calling,
and they rebuffed me, but I kept on it until they decided to try us
out. As it turned out, their top three recruits came from UCSC. We have
amazing students here who can do business.
Like most of the top students in the business management economics
major, Lee has a job lined up after graduation. Hell join PricewaterhouseCoopers
as an associate in the firms Silicon Valley office, earning a
starting salary of $50,000.
People think auditing is boring, but its more like being
an FBI agent, says Lee. Auditors travel to company offices and
spend about two weeks onsite, examining financial statements, interviewing
company officers, and looking at everything from all the angles.
For Lee, the work offers variety, challenge, and the opportunity to
use his people skills.
Because youre the auditor, theyre scared of you,
so you need to build rapport, says Lee, who believes UCSC students
are among the nicest, most down-to-earth people he has ever met.
Lee worked his way through community college as a server at T.G.I.
Fridays restaurant, developing the discipline, focus, and self-confidence
that helped him succeed at UCSC. To help others succeed at UCSC, Lee
spends several hours each week tutoring students in introductory economics,
intermediate accounting, and macroeconomics.
Lees day begins at 6 a.m., when he heads out for a six-mile run
and some weightlifting in the gym, followed by an 8 a.m. class. A sharp
dresser, he wears a button-down shirt and tie on the days he tutors.
Lee has become known among students as a helpful resource, and at 10
p.m. he is often still fielding calls from peers seeking his counsel
on everything from career choices to wardrobe advice before a big job
interview. I feel a lot of responsibility for the students,
says Lee. I really care.
His outreach efforts as UEA president brought him to the attention
of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which recruited him for a much-coveted summer
internship last year. He attended the firms Institute of
Leadership at Disneyworld with hundreds of other students and
another leadership conference in San Diego.
Before I came to Santa Cruz, Id never had a leadership
position in my life, says Lee. I learned as I went.
Lee, who will spend time this summer preparing to take the Certified
Public Accounting (CPA) exam, was the first UCSC recipient of a scholarship
from the Silicon Valley chapter of the California Society of CPAs.
Introduced in 1998, the business management economics major has become
one of the most popular majors on campus, and UCSC has become a key
recruiting destination for accounting firms. But instructor Bob Shepherd,
who has taught accounting at UCSC for more than 20 years, says the major
is satisfying more than student interest.
I've taught in other schools, and I've never seen the leadership
talent we've got here, says Shepherd. Students like Chris
are going out there and assuming leadership positions in the industry.
Weve got the top firms recruiting here, and they like the hires
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