Monica Chen: 2016 Best and Brightest

Monica Chen

Monica Chen

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Hometown: Buffalo Grove, IL

High School: Adlai E. Stevenson High School

Major: Accountancy

Favorite Business Courses: Accounting Control Systems (ACCY304), the Legal Environment of Business (BADM300)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: 2015-2016 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate, Minority Business Students Association (President), James Scholar Executive Committee (President), Beta Alpha Psi Professional Honorary Society (Member Relations Chair), Masters of Science in Accounting Integration Circles (Circle Leader)

Where have you interned during your college career? Incoming Tax and Deal Advisory intern for summer 2016 at KPMG Chicago

Describe your dream job: My dream job would be working as the CFO of a healthcare company like Baxter or Abbott. I would be able to utilize my accounting and business background while working with people in medicine and technology, both fields that I wish I could go into.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? It would be making connections and working in such collaborative environments. In business, we’re taught from day one that we will be working in groups no matter what job we go into, and the curriculum here at U of I really supports that. I’ve learned and grown so much from interacting with group members and working on teams. I find the business environment to be very dynamic and exciting, mostly because of the people I get to work with.

Where would you like to work after graduation?  I would either like to pursue Deal Advisory at KPMG, or work as a consulting analyst for Bain or McKinsey as a starting job.

What are your long-term professional goals? Long-term, I would like to pursue higher education outside of accounting.  Specifically, I’m aiming to get my MBA sometime in the near future.  From there, my options are really open.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…med school wasn’t going to work out for me.” 

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…drowning in lines of code as a computer science major.” 

 What was the happiest moment of your life? Definitely when my parents brought my brother home from the hospital and I got to hold him for the first time.  He’s eleven years younger than me, so I remember that day very clearly.

Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? It is being selected as the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate of the 2016 graduating class of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In as many words, the award is for the top senior in the whole college of 40,000 students based on academic achievement and impact. I never came in with the mindset aiming to win this award, so being recognized for doing what I truly enjoy is a very humbling experience.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? I would choose a wolf because they are some of the most loyal animals. Loyalty to me represents dedication and commitment and reliability all in one.  It’s one of my most important personal values that I am proud to uphold.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Without a doubt, it’s my mom. She’s pushed me to achieve everything I thought I couldn’t and been the voice of reason whenever I needed to make big decisions.

Fun fact about yourself: I have never had braces (even though I wish I did)

Favorite book: Shibumi by Trevanian

Favorite movie: October Sky

Favorite musical performer: Maroon 5

Favorite vacation spot: Playa Naranja, Costa Rica (although, my parent’s house is a top contender)

What are your hobbies? Sketching, playing ultimate Frisbee, and rooting for the Chicago Blackhawks

What made Monica such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2016?

“What sets Monica apart is her personal commitment to making a difference one life at a time. She believes that the change starts within and that each of us has a responsibility to better the people around us.  She does this every minute of every day. Monica’s soft spoken yet passionate leadership style is a breath of fresh air in today’s ego driven culture.

I have had the privilege of knowing Monica for over two years and every day she continues to impress me with her compassion and selflessness.  Daily, I watch her helping other students in the atrium of the Business Instructional Facility (BIF) with both classwork and connectivity to the College. I cannot tell you how many times I have been walking through the crowded atrium only to be called over to a group of students by Monica. It is because of her constant inclusion and warmth that we all feel a part of an extended family and at home on campus.” 

Richard T Johnson
Assistant Dean for Student Enrichment
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“I enjoy having Monica in my class. She is always highly engaged and eager to learn. I can always count on her raising her hand when I pose a difficult question and the rest of the class goes quiet. She listens and challenges her group members and keeps her group engaged when they work on group exercises. She is also eager to help others learn. I often see her patiently explain problems to other students. I believe that Monica has the intellectual and social skills to develop into a thoughtful and effective leader.”

Laura W. Wang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Accountancy
College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign