Aaron Panopio ’18 BSBA ’19 MAcc
True, Aaron Panopio ended up at the University of Arizona on a bit of a whim—his best friend in high school was being scouted by college baseball teams, and Panopio decided he’d also enroll at whatever university gave his friend a full scholarship.
But he has come into his own on the UA campus—primarily by giving back to others.
Early on, he started tutoring and realized it fit every aspect of his personality. “Tutoring allows me to be analytical,” says Panopio, “and also to build bonds with students. I have a lot of former students who are now my close friends.”
Panopio admits the 20 to 35 students he was tutoring per week also helped teach him a lot about time management—and offset tuition. Which was no small matter for a first generation college student.
“I was the first person in my family to earn a college degree in the United States,” he says. “And I’ve always known that I was doing it not just for me but for everyone in my family.”
Philippine-born Panopio found a role model in both perseverance and industriousness in his mother, who worked many part-time positions as a single mother while raising him until she ended up as a mail clerk with Pacificare (since acquired by United Health Care).
“She finally got a sales position and then got promotion after promotion,” says Panopio. “Now she’s the director of United Healthcare Business Operations.”
Her example instilled in Panopio the strong belief that he needs to make the most of the opportunities he’s given. Which is what he’s done at Eller—staying active in the Accounting Student Association, acting as the lead exam review coordinator for Accounting 210 and as a weekly review teacher for Accounting 250, and interning for BDO in Orange County during summer 2017 and summer 2018. He’s now signed on full-time with BDO, starting in October 2019.
He wants to stay in public accounting for a while, finding the teamwork and focus on financial reporting to be invigorating. And no matter where his future accomplishments take him, Panopio knows the true measure of success will be what he can do for his family.
“I want to help my mom retire comfortably,” he says, “I want to be able to take care of my family. To provide for others—that’s how I’ll know I made it.”
Photos by Arielle Frost.