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Grad Coordinator puts the ‘Fun’ in Accounting Fundamentals

UL Online -- Fri, 10/28/2022 - 9:22am

Dr. Cheryl Metrejean is aware her passion for tax law is unique and she is perfectly OK with that.

“Most people don’t think tax is fun, but I love it,” she says. Dr. Cheryl Metrejean's accounting courses cover

She discovered her love for tax law as a graduate student and now — one Ph.D., a number of business and teaching positions, and several published papers later — she is sharing her enthusiasm with accounting students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

While Dr. Metrejean’s academic and professional career has taken her all over the southeast, Acadiana is home, so she and her husband joined the University’s teaching staff in January.

“We were ready to be back home,” she says. 

Soon she will close the book on her first year as an instructor at her alma mater — teaching both undergraduate and graduate accounting courses — and as Graduate Coordinator of the MS in Accounting program.

Graduate Coordinator Snapshot

Name: Cheryl Metrejean, Ph.D.
Program: M.S. in Accounting
Research areas: The impact of crowd-funding services on individual tax liability, state tax law enforcement and transparency, and federal tax law.
Courses taught:  ACCT 527 - Corporate Taxation; ACCT 528 - Federal Tax Laws for Partnerships; ACCT 529 - Federal Income Taxation of Subchapter S Corporations; ACCT 550 - Tax Research and Analysis

Mastering Tax Law

Dr. Metrejean’s love of tax law gets to really shine in her graduate courses. 

“Right now, I’m teaching three different tax courses — and I’ll probably do a few more before we’re done,” she says. “So, I’m covering almost all the tax classes we have.”

With her Accounting 527 course, Corporate Taxation, required for all students in the program, Dr. Metrejean lays out the fundamentals of business taxes.

“We’re covering, sort of, the lifecycle of the business, and talking about issues that we have to deal with on the corporate side and on the shareholder side,” she says. “These are things that you see in a corporation that you wouldn’t see for an individual.”

Building on this required course are Accounting 528 - Federal Tax Laws for Partnerships, and Accounting 529 - Federal Income Taxation of Subchapter S Corporations, both offered as electives, in which Dr. Metrejean gets to share a more complex understanding of how rules and regulations are applied to businesses of different sizes and structures.

And then, standing out a bit from the rest, there is Accounting 550 – Tax Research and Analysis, a research methods class designed to prepare students to meet challenges ahead of them.

“Tax changes all the time,” she says. “Someone who is going to work in tax needs to understand where to go to get the current law, how to interpret it, and how to come up with a recommendation.”

Research is also where Dr. Metrejean really likes to get her hands dirty and occasionally make a little trouble.

In 2018, Dr. Metrejean and co-author Britton A. McKay published their findings on the tax liability of crowd-funding campaigns through organizations such as GoFundMe. 

Their work contributed valuable insights to national conversations.

“My co-author and I have actually gotten calls from reporters from some national news organizations, and they cited us as experts on the area and articles that they were publishing,” she says.

Her curiosity and investigative prowess can also lead her to examine topics some people might prefer she wouldn’t, such as a deep dive into the questionable way another state’s department of revenue was enforcing their tax law.

“I had a colleague come and ask me a question. He said, ‘This doesn’t seem right,’ and I got interested,” she says. “So, I researched it and published a paper” demonstrating how he was correct, and the state agency was not right, she explains. 

“I don’t think there was anyone out there listening, but I figured if nothing else, it gives the CPAs in that state something to work with,” she says. “I guess I’m a little bit of a troublemaker.”

Secret Skills of Online Learning

The core qualities necessary for success in the MS in Accounting program and in online learning as a whole overlap significantly. Students need to be self-motivated, extremely organized, and goal-oriented in both. 

Strong communication and interpersonal skills are also crucial for online students and Dr. Metrejean hopes her accounting students keep developing those strengths as they move forward in their careers.

Accountants “really need to be people first, like a people-person,” she says. “We’re asking people to trust us with their money. If you’re not comfortable with somebody, you’re not going to listen to their advice about your money.”

Looking to build on your bachelor’s degree and refine your accounting skills into a specialty? Request information today about the University’s M.S. in Accounting online program.