It All Balances Out

There is much to be said for plowing through the hard stuff when you’re young and have the energy. While many of our graduate students pursue their advanced degrees after they have gained some work experience, some just go right through marathon-style.

Like Corey Orthengren, the Amarillo native who earned his BBA in Accounting in May 2019, then dove into the MPA program and graduated with that degree in December 2020.

But wait, there’s more.

Corey’s employer—RGT Wealth Advisors in Dallas, where he is a Financial Planner—supported his desire to get his CPA. So Corey set to studying right away in late 2020, and last November, received notification that he had passed all four exams in what is a very rigorous program.

“The hardest part of passing the CPA exam was when I got to the third and fourth parts. It’s hard to remain enthusiastic and excited. You really have to lean into your reason why at that point,” he said.

And he’s still not done. Next on tap is his CFP, or Certified Financial Planner, which he will pursue in the summer of 2023. That’s a bowl of alphabet soup for his business card, especially considering he is only 27 years old.

Corey participated in the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Challenge while an undergraduate at WT, a process he credits with teaching him the value of intense, hard work. The level of preparation needed for this team event surpasses that of the typical individual and group projects found in courses. Oh, and not to go unmentioned, Corey is also halfway through earning his CFA designation. Better keep some room on that business card.

During his MPA program, he worked full-time as a commercial credit analyst with Amarillo National Bank. This, too, rounded out his overall education. “One thing I learned at ANB is to keep things short. A one-page summary is preferred, compared to those 10-page papers I did in school,” he added.

In July 2021, he married Becca (nee Gerlich, BBA 2020, MBA 2022), and the couple quickly relocated to Dallas, where his position with RGT was waiting.

As much as Corey focuses his professional time on managing his clients’ wealth, he also dedicates time each day to staying on top of current events, especially those that have an impact on the world of finance. He has made a significant effort to stay on top of topics such as ESG, inflation, and the late-2022 collapse of FTX and their crypto currency. The latter will likely have lasting repercussions, just as Enron did more than two decades ago. “We’ll be hearing about this for a long time to come,” he cautioned.

More than anything, Corey has realized the importance of continually adding to his knowledge and skills. It is a concept taught and reinforced in coursework, but it is also a concept that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

“School is just a start. No one expects you to know everything right out of the gate,” he reflected. Most importantly, though,”Be a lifelong earner. Every day, just be a sponge. Walk in to work ready to learn.”

And that is sage advice from someone who has plowed through so much, so fast.