Jim Perez, a volunteer accounting professor at Sonoma State University, is bringing his passion and professional expertise to the classroom. Not only does his knowledge of the accounting program come from being a partner at the local accounting firm, Pisenti and Brinker LLP, he is also an alumnus of Sonoma State. Perez's generous gift of his time and experience in the professional world is preparing accounting students for what awaits them after graduation.
The man who inspired Perez to give back to the school was his former professor, Bill Reynolds. "He was a mentor, somebody who helped me to meet my grad requirements and also appreciate what I was getting while going through the process."
Bill Reynolds was an accounting professor at Sonoma State for twenty years; even after his retirement he continued to give back by volunteering for the School of Business and Economics for twenty-two years.
After graduating from Sonoma State, Perez was hired by one of his former accounting professors. Once he became settled in his career he wanted to give back to the school that gave him so much, so he became involved with the Sonoma State Academic Foundation Board, "a non-profit organization attached to the University that obtains funds for student scholarships."
Frustrated by his lack of direct connection to the School and the students, he decided to take a different route to give back. "Jim wanted to give time and effort rather than just money," stated Terry Lease, Business Administration Department Chair. Perez transferred the time he was giving to the foundation to help improve the accounting curriculum. "I wanted to find ways to get students prepared for the demands of a career in public accounting." He gave them a "flavor" of what it would be like to be in the profession by integrating textbook topics with how standards are applied in a real world, professional environment.
Perez started out co-teaching the Accounting Information Systems class with Professor Kirsten Ely. "In the class students had a hard time seeing how it fits. He can show them where they will see it in the professional world," Ely explained. "It was great to present different perspectives, to show them how the business and academic world fit together." Perez is now teaching on his own. This semester he is teaching Intermediate Accounting and next semester he will teach Auditing.
The motivation to be a part of the accounting program does not stop with Perez. The inspiration continues with Jim's daughter, Allyssa Perez, who is the president of the Accounting Forum and in one of her dad's classes. "It came as a complete surprise," remarked Jim, after his daughter declared accounting as her concentration. "It's very rewarding, not many people get to teach their kids at this academic level." Jim is not only an inspiration to his daughter, but to all the students that take his class. He hopes that one day a student of his will be motivated to give back to Sonoma State just as he was.
From Bill Reynolds inspiring Jim, to Jim inspiring his daughter, Sonoma State clearly has a long legacy of motivating students and alumni to give back. Perez reflected that ultimately Sonoma State gives you so much more than you put in, "and there is a strong desire to give that back."