Minds We Meet—Interviewing Amir Banihashemi

Amir is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Commerce program with a major in accounting.  He plans on eventually applying for the chartered professional accounting program and plans to work at an accounting firm in order to fulfill the requirements for the CPA designation.  This is his story.

Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself? Who are you? Where do you live, where do you come from?

My name is Amir and I’m a 4th year accounting student.  I was born in Iran and came to Canada in 1993 as a refugee.  I attended grade school, high school, and three years of University in Windsor, Ontario.  I took a break from school and started working in my mid 20’s but a few years ago, after OSAP was expanded, I applied to AU to finish my undergrad with the aim to become an accountant.

What program are you in? Are you Excited to almost be finished your program?

Bachelor of Commerce with a Major in Accounting.  I cannot wait to be finished, I’m not sure how or what it will feel like once I’m done but it will feel good, I’m sure.

What do you do like to do when you’re not studying?

I run a small business here in Toronto teaching chess to youth in schools and after-school programs.  I also play competitively in local tournaments.  My second passion is playing and organizing soccer.  We have a local group here with nearly 6000 Facebook members which I’m a volunteer of and we organize soccer leagues and tournaments.

Where does your passion for playing chess come from? Have you been playing for a long time?

I learned the game from my older cousin when I was around nine years old.  We were bored and looking for something fun to do and he whipped out this board with pieces on it and I remember being fascinated.  At school, a few of my friends joined the chess club and seeing as how I just learned this awesome game, I decided to take a shot at participating as well.  A combination of passion and competitiveness pushed me to excel at the game for the past 20 years.

What are your plans for this education once you finish? How does it fit in with where you want to go?

I plan on applying for the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) program next fall and applying to work at an accounting firm to fulfill requirements to complete my CPA designation in the next 2-3 years.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?

My mom, she sacrificed so much to make sure I have the best opportunities in life, and this has pushed me more than anything else.

Describe your experience with online learning so far.  What do you like? Dislike?

I love the flexibility to study when and where I want to.  I like being able to alter my schedule and take a longer or shorter time to finish courses.  I dislike the e-textbook initiative and some courses have little to no learning support such as video or audio tools.

At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?

Finances were the biggest obstacle, though a few years ago OSAP was expanded and became more supportive which allowed me to continue school.

What’s your most memorable AU course so far, and why?

FNCE 401 (Investments) it was extremely challenging, but I loved the content which is very interesting for me.

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?

The opportunity cost of working full-time on my business but it will hopefully pay dividends in the future.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?

Most tutors get back to me fairly quickly and the feedback they provide has been useful.

What’s your pet peeve if you have one?

My biggest pet peeves are e-textbooks and the lack of video lectures.

Why do you dislike e-textbooks?

I’m indifferent to them in the sense that they have pros and cons compared to traditional books.  They are certainly more mobile and can be stored easier.  The downside is navigating through a traditional textbook for me is much easier and the right device needs to be available.  My previous laptop, for example, had a terrible display which made reading on it for a long duration difficult.  Many of my textbooks currently are on Vital’s bookshelf app, which is ok, and has a nice feature that I use a lot called “read out loud.” I do hope in the future the textbooks could make available in a PDF version for our courses so we can use them on e-readers such as the Kindle.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?

Probably a philosopher, someone like Aristotle or Plato.

Describe the proudest moment in your life.

This will happen this year when I finally graduate!

Describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people.

I’ve been practicing yoga for over fifteen years!

How did you get into doing yoga?

When I was younger, I mainly did yoga to stay flexible and fit for playing sports.  As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy it more as an activity that helps me relax and stay present.  I still enjoy the benefits it provides physically but the calmness it brings seems to have taken greater importance in my life.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?

Everyone has a story, be kind to others and understanding.

Have you traveled? Where has life taken you so far?

I haven’t travelled much outside of Canada, but I’ve travelled to Vancouver and Victoria many times and absolutely loved it.  My dream is to move to Vancouver Island should the opportunity present itself.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?

I’m reading a strategy builder by two British professors that discusses how to articulate corporate strategies visually.

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