First-generation college student and INCPAS Scholar alum shares his tips and trips as an accounting major.
Felix Mayorga Alvarez
Junior, University of Notre Dame
Accounting; considering supplementary major in Italian
Extracurricular Activities: Notre Dame Bagpipe Band (2015-2016), intramural soccer during study abroad in Italy (2016)
Why are you interested in accounting?
I knew going into high school I wanted to do something business-related. Once I took first-year accounting in high school and really enjoyed it, I kept taking more accounting classes and my high school accounting teacher told me about the INCPAS Scholars program. I ended up being one of two students from my school who participated in the program in its first year in South Bend.
How did your Scholars mentor help you?
I had only done the basic accounting stuff in class, so my mentor sat me down and explained what it’s actually like - what I’d actually be doing.
"Stay focused in high school. And learn communication skills! Communication is the key to success - I learned that the hard way. I’m not much of a talker but learned so I could communicate with my teachers and, later, professors."
Do you think you’d be majoring in accounting at Notre Dame today without the Scholars program?
I don’t think so. I would be lacking that knowledge about what all the aspects of business entailed, plus it taught me to network and meet people who could give advice and help make the right connections.
How has your experience been as a first-generation college student?
As the oldest of my brothers, I felt more of the pressure to succeed, but my whole family has been supportive. I also get a lot of academic support from my professors. If I need help in my class, I will go see them.
Where did you go during your study abroad program?
I wasn’t sure when I was going to be able to go to Europe again, so I did travel – I studied in Rome but traveled more places in Italy, a few cities in France, Spain, Croatia and Romania.
What kinds of internships have you done and what’s lined up for next year?
I had an internship with KPMG and another one with them this summer. I also did an internship in my first year in the development department of Notre Dame.
What do you aim to do when you graduate?
I’m hoping to go into public accounting and maybe eventually private. And I know Spanish, so learning Italian has come pretty easily. For now, I’m just happy to know the language but might eventually going to Italy to work.
What are your top tips for student’s success in applying to college?
Stay focused in high school. And learn communication skills! Communication is the key to success - I learned that the hard way. I’m not much of a talker but learned so I could communicate with my teachers and, later, professors.
What do you think is the top skill needed to succeed at school and in the workplace?
For both of those it’s still communication. There’s no going around communication.
What is the importance of extracurricular involvement?
You can get so focused on school that you isolate yourself. Extracurricular activities allow you to branch out and meet other people; to network.
What do you do in your down time?
I usually like to go out and kick the soccer ball around, or if the weather’s not great I’ll play pick-up basketball. Or watch Netflix – I just finished watching The Office for the first time.
Family Ties: Felix’s brother Jaime was also an INCPAS Scholar who’s now studying business at Indiana University Bloomington.
About INCPAS Scholars
The only one of its kind nationwide, the INCPAS Scholars is an award-winning, free year-long program encourages students to consider becoming a CPA by meeting practicing CPAs, touring CPA firms and businesses that employ CPAs, and participating in events throughout the year to get immersed in the profession.