Matt LaCascia, MPAc ’18 : People Behind the Numbers

June 26, 2018 • By UCI Paul Merage School of Business

For Master of Professional Accountancy student Matt LaCascia, it’s not just the numbers that appeal to him, it’s the people.

“Accounting is based on integrity – that’s the foundation of the industry,” he explains. “There are ethical guidelines for being a CPA, and standards you’re supposed to live your life by. So in accounting, you know you’re working with morally sound, ethically-driven people.”

In all of his endeavors, whether choosing a school or accepting a job offer, LaCascia  pays close attention to the people around him.  While finishing his degree in accounting at Colorado State University, LaCascia came to tour UCI—mostly attracted by the great weather and proximity to the beach.

When visiting The Paul Merage School of Business, the staff and students he met impressed him right off the bat. “You leave the room thinking, these are people I want to be with,” he says.

The feeling stayed with him, as he met the diverse students in the MPAc program. “The thing I like about MPAc program is it’s really strong distribution of people from all over the globe, all ages, all levels of experience—from people who have experience as a controller or CPA to accounting students straight from undergrad like me.”

Jana Cheng, associate director for recruitment and admissions for MPAc, was so impressed with LaCascia that she invited him to serve as a Student Ambassador in the program, recruiting the next class of students. “Matt’s generosity and thoughtfulness are expressed with everyone whom he comes into contact,” she says. “His work ethic and dedication point to his bright future in the accounting area.”

Before he even arrived at UCI, LaCascia had accepted an employment offer at accounting firm Grant Thornton’s Irvine office, where he interned the summer after graduating from CSU. He had gained national recognition as an undergraduate when he won both his campus and regional KPMG International Case Competition, earning a spot as a National Finalist. When considering his job offer from Grant Thornton, LaCascia asked himself whether these were the kind of people he wanted to spend 10 or 12 hours a day with during the busy season.  The answer was yes.

Despite having his future employment planned out, LaCascia says the staff at the Merage School Career Center know him—and all of his classmates—by name. “They are extremely personable and helpful,” he says, “and amazing at making you feel welcome.”

With graduation just around the corner, LaCascia is already waxing nostalgic about his time at the Merage School. “My advice to other students is to enjoy this experience and make the most out of it,” he says, hinting that he might return for an MBA in the future. “I wish I could extend my time at UCI.”