Transfer Student Spotlight: Meet Zackery Miller-Perez
By Laura Wagner
National Transfer Student Week is coming to a close, but stories of our amazing transfer students continue.
Today we meet Zackery Miller-Perez, CPA (’18), who transferred to UHD’s Marilyn Davies College of Business (MDCOB) after earning his associate degree in Business from San Jacinto College. After graduating from UHD in 2018, Miller-Perez went on to prepare and sit for his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam—and passed on the first try. He currently works in his dream job as a Senior Audit Associate at KPMG in Houston, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) in Houston.
What made UHD your university of choice for your bachelor’s degree?
UHD provided me with the opportunity to further my education after obtaining my associate degree from San Jac. I found out about the University from a UHD recruiting representative who was handing out flyers at a table in the lunch/common area. I chose UHD because it seemed like the best value option for me at the time. I’m the oldest of four kids in my family and the first to get a college degree, so that was an important consideration. The transfer experience was smooth sailing—the UHD Admissions counselors were great, and the MDCOB counselors set me up with milestones and goals to accomplish my dream of obtaining a bachelor’s in accounting.
You participated in student organizations as an undergraduate, and you now serve on the Board of Directors for Houston’s Chapter of ALPFA. What was the value of student organizations as an undergraduate?
I was the President of the Professional Accounting Society (PAS) and co-founder of the ALPFA chapter at UHD. Before joining PAS, I had no idea what it meant to be “polished” or the wide range of opportunities that accounting has to offer. I attended a National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) convention and that was a wake-up call for me—it inspired me to become a member of PAS and then to start the ALPFA chapter at UHD. PAS and ALPFA provided me the soft skills to lead as president of both organizations, and ultimately to interview and land my dream job at KPMG.
You said you interned at KPMG. That’s a very competitive placement. How were you able to get that internship?
At the time I was attending UHD, the “Big 4” accounting firms, including KPMG, did not recruit at UHD—it was not a target school for their recruiting efforts. I had to network heavily to even get my résumé in front of a KPMG recruiter. I knew I had the education, the skills, and the GPA (4.0) to be an ideal candidate, but I could not get my résumé to the right person. I reached out to Brett Hobby, Director of the College of Business Career Development Center, and asked him for help. The rest is history. If it weren’t for Brett and the Career Center, I wouldn’t have been able to get my résumé to the right recruiter to give me the chance to prove myself at KPMG. I was the first and only intern from UHD at KPMG at the time. Through the Career Center, Brett also sponsored attendance for my classmate and me at our first ALPFA conference, before we started the ALPFA chapter here.
Any advice for students considering transferring to UHD, based on your experience?
The opportunity is waiting for you. Now is the perfect time to transfer to UHD as it’s one of (if not THE most) value-to-cost colleges in Houston. Although I did have to overcome the obstacle mentioned before to get in front of a Big 4 recruiter at the time, when I landed the internship, I realized I gained the same opportunity at a prestigious Big 4 firm as everyone else in the room who had attended Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi), UT-Austin, or Texas A&M, and they had paid four to five times as much tuition as me. Now UHD has Big 4 firms recruiting at the school, so the barriers to entry are less difficult, but you still have to be prepared and willing to work for it.
Something else I would tell students is not to be in such a rush. Many students are racing to finish as quickly as they can, and I understand there are a lot of reasons for that, but if they can, I would encourage students to take more time. Spend time on campus and join organizations like PAS and ALPFA, learn those soft skills, learn how to do elevator pitches, and attend networking events. Students don’t always realize that you have to lay the groundwork for the job you want. I signed my employment offer in 2017, then spent another couple of years finishing up school and then pursuing requirements (and studying) to sit for my CPA exam. I didn’t start full-time at KPMG until 2020.
You need to have a mindset of “start preparing early and look at the long term.” My advice is, network as much as you can, join organizations that can help you prepare, and use the resources available to you, like the Career Center.
If you know of a student who is looking for the right university home to finish their undergraduate degree, the Office of Transfer Relations and the Accelerated Transfer Academy can help. Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-221-8522.