35-year-old certified public accountant Joseph Sedrak was recognized in the spring as “Outstanding Student of the Year”, having graduated in May of 2013 with Honor of Distinction from the Master of Science in Taxation program at California State University, Northridge.
“I was happy and it was unexpected,” said Sedrak with a contagious smile, speaking about his award.
Attending the CSUN Master’s program while working is not upon which to embark. Sedrak’s hard work paid off as he is the only student to graduate in the Master of Science in Taxation program with university honors in his graduating class. However, Sedrak says he did not see it as one of the most difficult undertakings of his life.
“One of the most difficult things I have done is leaving my country and my family,” said Sedrak in response to how he managed to excel in both his school and career life. “When I came to the United States, I did not speak a word of English. It was a challenge.”
“However, I had the confidence in myself and did not give up. It is a part of my personality.”
In recognition of his achievement, Sedrak received a $2,000 scholarship from the Tax Executive Institute at its annual scholarship award night in June. On hearing he was being recognized for his academic achievement, Sedrak said he was “grateful and proud”. Throughout his life, Sedrak faced many challenges, but decided he would do his best in each experience.
Sedrak was born and raised in Egypt. In 1999, he earned a Bachelors of Science in Accounting and Finance from Assuit University in Egypt. During his time in Egypt, he worked as an accounts receivable manager for Heineken.
He wanted to take one step further in his career by obtaining a CPA license, which he was unable to receive in Egypt. With his decision to earn the license, Sedrak emigrated from Egypt to the United States in 2005.
“I saw obtaining the CPA license as making a great difference in career and technical skills,” said Sedrak. Sedrak obtained his CPA license three years after emigrating to the U.S.
After looking at various Masters of Science in Taxation programs in the Los Angeles area, Sedrak decided that the 18 month CSUN program fit his schedule ideally. He began the program in October of 2011.
“The other programs would span over more months and the CSUN program fit around tax season,” he said. “Overall, I heard great comments and experiences from the program’s prior students.”
Currently he works at real estate group Deloitte and Touche. Sedrak considers George Gans, who is a CSUN taxation professor and tax partner at Deloitte LLP, to be one of his academic and professional mentors.
“I enjoy my job because there is room to succeed,” said Sedrak. “At Deloitte, I am able to be exposed to projects that grow my expertise. I am currently working on two big accounts, I deal with new people and new politics.”
He is excited to continuing progressing in his practice. He is positive he will remain working in the Los Angeles area.
“I just bought a house. I am staying here,” said Sedrak with a smile and a laugh.
Despite his great success in the Master’s program, Sedrak is a little wary to continue with more schooling in the near future.
“The program was really tough and condensed,” said Sedrak. “My job is not easy with deadlines and meeting client expectations. Sometimes I find myself working over 16 hours a day.
“I had no life for 18 months. My wife has been amazing throughout these last couple of years. I might change my mind after a year, but right now I want to concentrate on my career at Deloitte and my family.”