He works and lives in metropolitan Dallas, but Julian Keaton is pursuing a master of accountancy degree in governmental accounting half a continent away at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick.
Distance Learning That Adds Up
Like the 19th-century pioneers who established the famous cattle trails of old Texas, Julian Keaton is a trailblazer, enrolled in the nation’s first and only master’s in governmental accounting program, offered 100 percent online and available exclusively through Rutgers. Without setting foot on a Rutgers campus, Julian Keaton will take two and a half years to earn his degree.
For Keaton, a contract specialist for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), choosing Rutgers was a pretty straightforward decision. He appreciates the convenience of learning “asynchronously”—studying at times that fit his schedule and are least disruptive to his work life—and that he also ends up with a degree from Rutgers.
“Having grown up in the Northeast, I was familiar with Rutgers’ reputation for academic excellence,” Keaton notes. “In my search for a graduate accounting program, I saw that the business school offered one that focused on governmental accounting. This was the perfect choice considering my desire to make my career in the federal government … The fact that this program can be completed via distance learning ultimately enables me to focus on establishing my career while attending a prestigious institution like Rutgers.”
Keaton, who takes two courses per semester, has a self-styled system for getting through his assignments. “Balancing a full-time job and graduate school can be challenging,” he says. “During the week I focus on the readings and begin working on the assignments. I use my time on the weekends to finish the assignments … And whenever I have a question, my professors are quick to respond to my emails.”
Working toward a Rutgers degree in Dallas doesn’t mean Keaton is isolated from fellow students. Through a discussion web tool, students “are required to respond to questions each week that the professor assigns. This provides a great forum for all of us to think critically regarding the week’s topic. We all have different backgrounds, and it’s interesting to learn about the experiences of others.”
The discussions are lively, as Americans increasingly focus on responsible government. “The federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars in acquisitions every year, so accountability and transparency are absolutely expectations of the American people,” says Keaton, adding, “I have sworn to uphold these principles.”
Watching the Government's Dollars
If you had to describe the ideal background for someone whose duty it is to watch the government’s dollars, you would have a hard time topping Keaton’s résumé: he is an Eagle Scout, a graduate of The Citadel with a BS in business administration, a proud member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and already has earned a master’s degree in public administration and criminal justice.
“My work relates to purchasing goods and services requested by various business units of the IRS, from furniture to IT products to security services,” says Keaton. “Anything that is purchased for departments of a federal agency must be approved and signed by a warranted contracting officer in a procurement office such as mine.” Keaton, who is pursuing Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) to become a warranted contracting officer, will sit for the CPA exam upon completing his Rutgers degree.
eCollege at Rutgers University
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