No matter if he needed a tutorial on the complex topic of taxes or words of wisdom on whether to take a job 2,000 miles away, Armando Espinal always turned to the same UI faculty member.
“One person who had a profound impact on my professional career and personal life is Professor Andy M. Bauer,” Espinal says Los Angeles, where he’s a senior financial analyst for The Walt Disney Company’s television animation division.
“I had him as my tax professor during the fall semester of my senior year. It was a tough course for me. However, Professor Bauer had open office hours and I would go every week after class to learn more in order to succeed in the class. This fostered a mentorship that I will always remember and be thankful for.
“After I took his class, Professor Bauer gave me the opportunity to work as his research assistant for the remainder of my undergraduate studies and part of my graduate studies. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about tax and how the topics that I was studying in his class had a real-world impact for different companies.
“Throughout all of this, Professor Bauer mentored me during my most important years in college. He was a great sounding board for different, big life decisions that I was making, like moving halfway across the country to Los Angeles in order to start my professional career at The Walt Disney Company. He helped me to navigate the bold move and championed me to pursue my dreams.
“Professor Bauer was also very supportive of me living a lifelong dream to go Valencia, Spain to meet my favorite soccer team, Valencia CF. I created the official fan club for U.S. fans of the team during my time on campus.
"This gave me the opportunity to travel to Spain to meet the team and fulfill a lifelong dream. I am forever thankful for having Professor Bauer be a big part of my collegiate career.
“In addition to the amazing people that I met at Illinois, a lot places and fond memories of those places come to mind whenever I think about my time on campus," says Espinal, who earned both his bachelor's (2014) and master's (2015) in accountancy at Illinois. "However, one place always comes to mind first. I always think of the Illini Union.
“For me, my collegiate life revolved around the Illini Union. During my first Quad Day, I met and hung out with some of my lifelong friends at the Illini Union. Throughout the years, I would often go to the Illini Union to work on group projects, volunteer for iHelp for the different RSOs that I was a part of, and spend time with friends watching soccer on the televisions or playing pool with them during study breaks in the Illini Union basement.
“It was a great place to get an amazing communal experience at Illinois. I got to learn about different people’s perspectives from all over the world. My fellow peers inspired me to challenge myself and grow. It is something that I hold near and dear to my heart during my time at Illinois.