Asst. Prof. Stefanie Tate, a competitive figure skater, believes that mastering a double Axel jump on the ice is a lot like preparing for the accounting profession. Success requires an unflagging work ethic, dedication to constant improvement and the willingness to try alternate approaches.
“Major successes come from practice, practice, practice,” says Tate, who teaches accounting in the Manning School of Business. “To progress, you have to try new things. You also have to be willing to ask questions and seek guidance. If you want to excel you must always be willing to learn.”
Tate, who joined the UMass Lowell faculty five years ago, brings a competitive skater’s dedication and passion for her work to the classroom. “I love this job,” she says. “When you love what you do, it filters down to all aspects of your life.”
Tate’s commitment to education has deep roots. Growing up in Monroe, N.Y., not far from West Point, she was surrounded by educators, including her mother and father (who was the principal of her high school) and her best friend’s parents, all of whom inspired an abiding respect for the teaching profession.
As an undergraduate at Wake Forest University, Tate tutored other students in math and accounting to earn spending money and realized how much she liked helping others learn. “That’s what sealed the deal for me since I was able to combine accounting with teaching,” she says. “I love working with college students. I really enjoy helping them work through the unique issues they face – how to pay for school, how to get a job, what to major in.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting, Tate spent several years as an auditor with accounting giant KPMG Peat Marwick in Washington, D.C., working mostly with non-profit clients. She knew, however, she wanted to teach at the college level, so she eventually headed back to school, earning her Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
UMass Lowell has been a perfect fit for Tate. “My philosophy of teaching fits here,” she says, citing a strong emphasis on responsibility and accountability in her classroom approach. “The students here are so hardworking and respectful. They are able to balance responsibilities and get things done,” she says.
For students contemplating career paths, Tate offers some straightforward advice: Find what makes you breathe and do it. “Too often people are told to focus on how much money they can make. You spend more of your waking hours working than doing anything else, so you need to do what truly makes you happy.”