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DCE Magazine

Instructor Q&A: Michael Miqdadi

Accounting Instructor

Spring 2017

Q. Why did you decide to become an instructor?

A. I have always wanted the opportunity to teach for the University of California. It has a fantastic reputation worldwide. A friend of mine that teaches at UCLA Extension was prepared to recommend me for a position there. But, when the opportunity came up, I was just too busy with my private practice. At other junctures, I was also given opportunities to teach at UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge. But again, the timing was not right. I believe that if you are going to teach students, if you are really going to be a mentor for them and help them through their college experience, you must be able to put in the time. Well, Becker CPA, where I have taught for many years, started to cut back on their live classes in favor of online. Thus, as I was needed less to do live classes, I had more time for other projects. As this was happening, I received a recommendation from a colleague regarding teaching at UCI. Teaching at UCI was especially appealing to me as I knew they were committed to making their program top notch. I interviewed promptly. Shortly thereafter I was added to the instructional staff and the rest is history!

Q. What's your favorite lesson to teach and why?

A. This is a hard question because I find all aspects of accounting and finance interesting. Certainly tax is one of my favorite subjects. One of the reasons is that most of my students come into a tax class with some unusual preconceptions and then are quite surprised when they see these long held beliefs are not necessarily correct. Economics too is one of my favorite areas as even very smart students frequently have absolutely no idea about how our economy works or the rules that govern it.

Q. What's unique about your teaching style?

A. I believe that most of what we teach is really not that hard. If it is explained properly to a student most of time they can understand. The problem is that many instructors don't take the time to do what they are hired to do – teach. So I don't only explain to the student how to apply an accounting rule, I tell them why we have this particular rule. I talk a lot about history, how a rule that we have now that is seemingly meaningless was far less meaningless when it was adopted. So I give them not only the how, but the why. Large percentages of students struggle with concepts because they don't know why they are doing what they are doing.

I also try to provide an energetic, upbeat presentation. I figure that if the student is awake for my lecture, they have a lot better chance to learn something! I was once told that I am very good at taking complicated subjects and making them easy to understand. And I think that is partially because I try to bring the subject to life with examples delivered in a fun and entertaining manner. I try to know my audience. I will make reference to pop culture icons. An example that involves the Walking Dead will probably be better remembered than one that involves unknown person A transacting with unknown person B. Not many people would think the Audit process is a lot like dating, but after you hear my lectures, you will see the similarity!

Q. What do you find most rewarding about being an instructor?

A. When I see a student who did not understand something, suddenly realize how to approach a problem because of something I said, it brings me great satisfaction! That is a student I have truly helped. And from that understanding, they gain confidence and are able to take that knowledge and conquer the subject or pass the exam. I try very hard in my presentations to bring the material to life, almost like a stage actor. I try to interject humor; I will frequently use props to dramatize the concept I am teaching that day. Sometimes I even sing to the students if I think it will help them grasp the material! I believe that a great instructor wears 3 hats. The first hat, of course, is having the knowledge of the material and the ability to answer questions. The second hat that I think an instructor needs to wear is that of a cheerleader. When the students start to give up or get tired, it is my job to pick them up and remind them of all the good things ahead of them if they can get their career started in accounting, and perhaps become a CPA. And finally, the third hat is that of a counselor. Students find various reasons why they don't think they can pass the exam, become a CPA, etc. My job is to talk to them, learn about them, and then help show them the path that needs to be taken to overcome whatever barrier they perceive to success.