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Justin Brown

What is the relationship between accounting and Lake Naivasha, one of Kenya’s most vibrant natural resources?

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Justin Brown

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Graduate Student
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

What is the relationship between accounting and Lake Naivasha, one of Kenya’s most vibrant natural resources?

Justin Brown, a 2011 recipient of the AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship, set out to find the answer to this question during his sophomore year of college through a six-month study abroad program. Not only did he find the answer, he discovered his love for exploring the intersections between environmental issues and business. Lake Naivasha is struggling because it serves as both a research site for endangered species and an important horticultural base for the local economy. As it turns out, this is a common problem in developing countries around the world. Justin is passionate about obtaining the CPA designation because he wants to help provide financial solutions to government agencies and private companies that address these types of difficult problems.

For Justin, accounting is not just about the numbers.

As an Economics student at a small Quaker school, Justin studied economic growth models and learned the importance of social responsibility. During college he served as Vice President of the Black Student Union, served as Editor for the college newspaper, and worked with local community theaters. He also kept busy during the summer as a Union Summer intern canvassing for fair benefits and wages for Service Employees International Union (SEIU). All this community work has exposed him to people representing different nationalities, sexualities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, which he believes will make him a better accountant.

Looking at Justin’s academic achievements and knack for balancing extra-curricular activities, you would never guess that he was a first-generation college student. However, the way he sees it, hard work and adventure go hand-in-hand. And working hard has given Justin plenty of opportunities for adventure.

After graduation, Justin served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. He has also worked as a finance specialist for a Top Secret White House engineering project.

In his finance specialist position, Justin noticed a need for understanding accounting within public service and knew that he needed to get that knowledge ASAP. He discovered the AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship while searching online for the funds he needed to get into his dream program.

After he was awarded the prestigious AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship, Justin was able to commit to that dream program – an accelerated, one-year graduate program at the University of Southern California.

Now that Justin has completed his master’s degree, he plans to hit the ground running once again.

Passing the CPA Exam and getting a strong foundation in audit could lead to endless possibilities which Justin is already busy exploring. He has applied to multiple positions within L.A. County and has been named a 2012 Semi-Finalist for the Presidential Management Fellowship offered through the Office of Personnel Management. However, if these opportunities don’t pan out, Justin may end up in Trinidad or Tunisia. “The sky really is the limit,” he says. “And for all of us pursuing our CPA credentials, we’ll be unstoppable!”

  • 7am: Get up and go

    After I wake up, I pack a small breakfast and lunch to take to school. Then I head out from my downtown apartment to the bus stop and off to school.

  • 8am: Attend class

    I really enjoy attending my classes and learning more about accounting. My courses this semester include “Strategy and Operations Through CFO Lens”, “Comparative International Development”, and “Advanced Financial Statement Auditing Topics.”  It is wonderful to take interesting, diverse elective classes. I especially like that I am in more advanced classes so we can delve deeper into interesting issues. 

  • 1pm: Lunch time!

    After class, I eat a late lunch with friends at the campus food court. It’s great to relax and enjoy my friends in the middle of the day.

  • 2pm: Group study and homework time

    Almost every class had some sort of team assignment, so every day I meet with a group of my classmates to work on those assignments or have group study sessions. Study groups can be really helpful!

  • 4pm: Heading Home

    It’s time to catch the bus. I usually do a little reading for class on the ride home.

  • 5pm: Study Time (Part 1)

    After a good round of group study, I like to take time to dig into the material myself. During recruitment season, I would use this time to prepare for career fair events, which generally started at around 6pm and would last several hours.

  • 6pm: Gym Break

    I usually break up my studying with a trip to the gym. That time gives the material a chance to sink in and helps me stay healthy.

  • 7pm: Study Time (Part 2)

    After a great workout, it’s back to the books. I’m refreshed and ready to get in a little more studying before the day ends.

  • 8pm: Dinner

    Dinner time! I love to enjoy a good meal with my girlfriend. We especially love eating salads because they’re easy, quick, and healthy. 

  • 9pm: Relaxation and bedtime

    After a long day, I love to wind down and relax in the hot tub or on the rooftop of my apartment building. Then, as I get ready for bed, I listen to either “Stuff You Should Know” or “This American Life.” It’s the great end to a great day.

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