Alumni Now: Xiangli Huang

Xiangli Huang (Accounting, ’16) was a member of the Accounting Club and an IRS Certified Tax Preparer through BMCC’s connection with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at the Food Bank of New York. Mr. Huang earned both a B.A. in Accounting in 2018 and Master’s in Accounting in 2020 at Queens College, CUNY, where he worked up to 30 hours a week while attending classes, just as he had done at BMCC — all the while maintaining a 3.8 GPA and making the Dean’s List four semesters in a row. He passed all four parts of the CPA exam and held an internship at Wallace Lau CPA. Another internship, at PricewaterhouseCoopers, led to Mr. Huang’s current position at the firm as an associate in the Asset Wealth Management department, where his focus is partnership compliance regarding income allocations and more.

Q: What is your favorite memory (professor, class, etc.) of BMCC?
Joel Barker was a professor of accounting at BMCC, back then, who made a huge difference for me. In high school, I wasn’t your typical Asian student making all As, and when I got to college, I didn’t really know what to do. When I had to pick a major, Accounting was at the top of the list and that’s why I checked it. Maybe I knew I would do okay in accounting, and I did, and that’s why I went with it — but I wasn’t really feeling connected to it until I took a taxation class with Professor Barker. That class was super engaging and that’s when I decided to really get into taxation and to focus on accounting. He connected me with the VITA volunteer tax preparation program at the Food Bank of New York, and I liked that a lot, too. From there, I kept going with more commitment and motivation, and eventually that made me who I am today, professionally.

Q: How did BMCC help you get where you are today?
The funny thing is, it isn’t a straight line from the taxation classes I took at BMCC to the job I have today at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an associate in the area of asset wealth management. I have been learning on the job, a lot of it from scratch. What my experience at BMCC gave me is the confidence to know that I could learn new things, concepts that are complex and relate to things like partnership compliance and allocations, private equity funds, all the things that are part of my work today. I also owe a lot to my internship experiences, which started at BMCC.

The best part was that BMCC actually finds the internship for you, so you don’t have to go out and look for it. BMCC got me the internship with Wallace Lau CPA, and that gave me the confidence to go out on my own, later when I was getting my bachelor’s degree at Queens College, and get the internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers that led to a full-time position.

Q: What advice do you have for today’s BMCC students?
Joel Barker asked me to come to one of his classes and give advice to the students, not just on accounting. One thing I can say to them from my own experience is that even if you weren’t an amazing student in high school, you can still do really well in college — and it will take a lot of work.  I studied hard and was able to get where I am today. During my year at BMCC, I worked in a laundromat and a restaurant, 30 hours a week while being a full-time student, taking five or six classes a semester. I got As and Bs, and just kept on going. I would tell today’s students that you might have to give up something in the short term in order to benefit in the long term. I would go to class, go to work, come home, do the homework, rest and eat and go back to class the next day. Repetition is the best way to describe my college years. But it was worth it. Today, even though I’m not working so much with taxation, it gives me an edge to have a taxation background. It all comes together eventually if you do what you are good at and care about.

Q: Why is it important for alumni to stay involved with BMCC?
Professor Barker always said he was passionate about education and he opened my eyes to the possibility of teaching someday. When I was a student, I said to myself, when I become successful, I’m going to give back to the community, and help out the current students. One day I want to teach as well, and talking to the students has given me a feel for this. That’s one reason to stay involved. You don’t always know the reason until you are there, experiencing it.