An impressive group of accounting interns from Portland State inspired Nick Shepherd to return to his alma mater for PSU’s new five-class online Graduate Certificate in Taxation.
Shepherd graduated from PSU in 2001 with a business degree in accounting and finance. Since then, he’s become an accomplished, entrepreneurial CPA with nearly two decades of public accounting experience. After being a CFO for a real estate firm, Shepherd became a partner in the boutique local accounting firm Irvine & Company, where he specializes in tax planning and business advising.
“I’m a first-generation college student, and when I started, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Shepherd said. “After my first day of my sophomore year, I went home and told my parents I wanted to drop out. They told me if I quit college I had to move out so … I stayed in school,” he laughed. “I was very lucky to have that tough love.”
Shepherd took his first finance class later that year.
“The professor wrote a note on my test saying, ‘You should consider finance as your major.’ It was the first time in college I had been told I was good at something.”
That moment changed Shepherd’s life. He enrolled in the accounting program, and started his life of working magic with numbers.
Years after Shepherd became a well-established CPA and partner in his firm, he felt inspired to continue his education after onboarding new employees who recently graduated from PSU.
“We hired two graduates from PSU’s Master of Taxation program and saw how successful they were,” he said. “They had a stronger skill set in research than we had previously seen, and a well-versed, deeper range of tax theory. I really think that their education helped accelerate their careers. As a partner, I knew I needed to continue my education, and [my alma mater] PSU was the first place I looked.”
Shepherd enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Taxation, which he plans to complete over the next year or two. After finishing his first class, he remarked how humbling the experience was.
“My first class was tax research, and man, I forgot how hard school was,” he laughed. “Portland State taught me a very structured way to conduct research. I thought I had a strong research foundation given that it’s part of my job, and quickly saw how valuable this education will be. Beyond my own education, I’m now able to teach my employees the research skills I developed at PSU.”
The tax certificate also allows Shepherd to complete his 40 hours per year of continuing professional education required of CPAs.
“Everyone in our firm recognizes the great education that PSU has to offer. It’s a great return on investment—something every finance and accounting professional loves,” he said.