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  May 13, 2002

Class Rep to Join Accounting Profession
By Claudia G. Chamberlain

Before the collapse of Enron and the associated tainting of consulting firm Arthur Andersen, accounting major Irene Choi had written honesty and truthfulness into her resume.

"My career goal is to be an honest and truthful certified public accountant," says Choi, who graduates in May with honors and will speak as a senior class representative during the morning Commencement exercises.

Class of 2002
Image: Irene Choi
Irene Choi could barely speak English when she moved here from Hong Kong six years ago. She graduates from UConn with many distinctions.

Photo by Dollie Harvey

Her goals and resume so impressed the professionals at PriceWaterhouse- Coopers that they signed her up a full year in advance, to be a staff accountant in the company's Stamford office.

Choi, who will stay on at UConn to pursue a master's degree in accounting come the fall, will join the prestigious accounting firm next summer. Her concentration is taxes.

While pursuing her master's degree, Choi has been offered an assistantship in the accounting department to support a technology push on WebCT, a web-based product that allows faculty to use the Internet to offer and/or supplement courses.

"Accounting is a special profession with the moral standards almost as high as those of doctors and lawyers," says Choi who credits her accounting professors for their dedication to high standards: "My professors are hardworking and dedicated. They not only teach us knowledge, but how to become a better person."

A native of Hong Kong, Choi came to the United States in 1996 as a teenager with her parents and younger brother William, also a UConn student.

She spoke no English, found school a terrifying experience and greatly missed her friends back in Hong Kong.

"I was so lost," says Choi. "When I looked at a textbook, I didn't know anything in it."

She sees those difficult days now as a life-altering experience that has made her a stronger person.

"When we came to the United States, everything changed for me, especially the culture," she says, "and I needed a great deal of energy to get through it."

The energy has stayed with Choi from her initial two years at the Stamford campus to the last two at Storrs, where she's received many awards, both inside and outside the University, including the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants' Outstanding Student Award, given to one graduating accounting student with the highest GPA, the Outstanding Student Contribution Award from the University's Accounting Department, and the University's Edward Victor Gant scholarship. Choi also was a Babbidge Scholar for three years; Babbidge Scholars are those who attain a grade-point average of 4.0 for two consecutive semesters in a calendar year.

In April, she was one of a handful of UConn students honored at a ceremony at the State Capitol for her outstanding academic achievements and extracurricular activities.

Choi has been active on the Storrs campus as a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the National Honorary Accounting Business Society and Beta Gamma Sigma, the National Honorary Business Society.

She has already put her tax acumen to work as a volunteer for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which helps local residents and international students with their taxes.

Says Choi: "I love to help."

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