Student Star: Joe Lerro

Teaching assistant shows new majors the enjoyment of accounting

Name: Joe Lerro
Major: Accounting - Taxation
Graduation: Summer 2015

“I was always really interested in accounting because of the way everything fits together. When there's something missing or out of balance, you can figure it out, it's somewhere in there.”

While many people probably think of accounting as a dry, buttoned-down profession, accounting graduate student Joe Lerro wants them to know that these are only misconceptions — accounting is nothing of the sort. As the son of two accountants, Lerro quickly developed an interest in accounting while growing up.

During middle school, Lerro’s parents gave him accounting projects to work on at home, fueling his curiosity and helping him discover early on that accounting was an enjoyable field in which he excelled.

“Joe exemplifies the best characteristics of an FSU College of Business student. He strives for excellence in all that he does and brings out the best in those around him. He is a natural leader who leads by example,” said David Paradice, senior associate dean of the College of Business.

Lerro decided to pursue both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting at Florida State after his tour of the university as a freshman. When he first visited Florida State’s campus, instead of reminding students how lucky they were to be there, FSU presented Lerro with an atmosphere where professors were thrilled to meet new students. For Lerro, FSU provides a “family feel,” with professors who are willing to help their students in any way they can. He now studies, works, teaches and involves himself in the accounting niche at FSU.

“I was always really interested in accounting because of the way everything fits together,” Lerro said. “When there’s something missing or out of balance, you can figure it out, it’s somewhere in there.”

Lerro relates accounting to solving a logic puzzle or learning a new language. In his study of accounting, Lerro relies on understanding the flow of information as well as concepts like depreciation and the value of assets and cash. Lerro describes tax accounting as logical, law-based and concerned with interpretation, and audit accounting as a construction of rules that are used to make judgments and assure the public.

As a teaching assistant for Introduction to Financial Accounting, Lerro strives not only to teach these concepts to his students, but also to share the sense of fun and enjoyment that he gains from accounting with his students.

“Joe has proven to be a valuable resource to many accounting students,” said Holly Sudano, Florida State professor of accounting. “He takes a genuine interest in his students’ success and is always willing to go above and beyond what is required. He does all of this while juggling his own graduate coursework, studying for the CPA exam, and continuing to be involved in and lead student organizations within the College of Business.”

Lerro’s experience as a teaching assistant has reinforced for him that professors are people too; approachable and happy to listen, help or even just chat with their students. Standing on the other side of the classroom as a learning instructor has encouraged Lerro to reach out to his own professors and have more fun with class discussion.

In addition to his involvement as a teaching assistant, Lerro served as the chairman of the Student Leadership Council at Florida State, developing and sponsoring programs for students of the College of Business. Through this organization, Lerro has helped sustain resources such as the Senior to Freshman Mentoring Program, Professional Mentorship program, Wall Street Prep Program and the Lunch with a Rotarian Program. The Student Leadership Council also runs student surveys and connects students with administration to help them get what they need. Lerro now serves as the student advisor for the council.

“I am impressed by Joe’s accomplishments and his personal qualities,” said Marissa Langston, director of alumni and student engagement for the Florida State College of Business. “He is very charismatic, energetic, an exceptional leader and a high-achiever. Not only has he excelled as a student, but he also was instrumental in raising the profile of the Student Leadership Council, but also increasing student engagement in the organization.”

Outside of his studying, teaching and leadership with accounting, Lerro does accounting work with the chief financial officer at the University Health Center as well as remote work for his father’s accounting firm. Lerro also obtained an internship through Seminole Futures with Big 4 accounting firm, Deloitte. Last summer, he interned with Deloitte in its Miami practice, and was also awarded the opportunity to work for the respected firm abroad in Milan for a few weeks of his internship.

After Florida State, Lerro will pursue an opportunity of distinction in his hometown, Boca Raton. In January 2016, Lerro will begin working as a full-time tax consultant for Deloitte, choosing tax accounting rather than audit, because he enjoys the prospect of solving complex problems. Lerro believes that FSU has afforded him many wonderful experiences and opportunities, and has strived during his time at FSU to give back.

“I hope that I’ve left an impact through the Student Leadership Council, it’s something I’ve really tried to grow and make better,” Lerro said. “I also hope I’ve made an impact on students who have taken accounting and made it interesting so students will enjoy it.”

By Lauren Spaunburgh, University Communications Intern
Produced by the offices of Information Technology Services, the Provost, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and University Communications.