Alumni Now: Joel Barker

BMCC Professor Joel Barker earned an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Accounting degree at BMCC before transferring to Queens College, CUNY, where he earned a B.A. In Accounting and Economics, and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Accounting. Professor Barker is also a New York State-licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and before joining the faculty at BMCC, he gained professional experience in public accounting with a focus on audits and taxes. His research efforts, which he shares with students, focus on Individual Taxation and Tax Policies.

Q: What is your favorite memory (professor, class, etc.) of BMCC?

A. My favorite memory is in my sociology class, and my professor, Phillip Dean Parker. He opened my eyes to so many things; racism, culture shock, ethnocentrism and prejudice. He showed us the positive and negative sides of these concepts, how they are subtly alive in our society. That was a pivotal moment in my life. I grew up in Guyana, and our class had students representing more than 25 different countries, which allowed me to learn about other cultures and remove some of the myths that I had held. It allowed me to take a ‘mental trip’ to different parts of the world through interactions with international students in such a diverse setting.

Q: How did BMCC help you get where you are today?

A. Actually the first thing is, I fell in love with accounting here at BMCC while pursuing a degree in business management, and switched to the accounting program. Subsequently, I was given an internship with the CPA firm, Allan S. Joseph PLLC, where I was offered a full-time job after my second week, to start as soon as I completed my internship requirements. That was where I gained my experiences in audits and taxes. To date, many of our accounting students continue to intern at this firm. I was also the recipient of the Queens College Honors Transfer Scholarship from BMCC, which enabled me to continue my higher education.

Q: What advice do you have for today’s BMCC students?

A. Learn and utilize the resources that are available at BMCC; such as free tutoring, scholarships, internships, career development and services at Single Stop, including financial guidance. Start making a career plan now, with alternatives built into it, because things happen. I would also advise students to maintain networking relationships with their professors, and to continue building a professional network with their peers.

Q: Why is it important for alumni to stay involved with BMCC?

A. The most important reason why alumni should stay in touch with BMCC is to perpetuate that concept of ‘paying it forward’, thus allowing other students to have the experiences and opportunities that were given to us while we were finding ourselves at the beginning of our academic careers at BMCC. Apart from altruistic reasons, alumni can continue to network with other graduates, which may continue to enhance their professional development. I’m a strong believer in mentoring and thus alumni involvement can foster this environments academically and professionally.