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Accountancy major didn't let COVID-19 stop him from thriving


Brendan Duffy portrait

ASU grad Brendan Duffy.

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November 30, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

If you’re an ASU football fan, you’ve likely helped to #IgnitetheInferno as part of the student section at Sun Devil athletics events. And you’ve probably kept up with all the action behind the scenes by following the Inferno Insider. What you may not know is that the voice behind the Inferno Insider for the past few years has been Brendan Duffy, an ASU senior graduating this December with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. 

Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, Duffy feels proud about his high level of academic achievement, being able to graduate early and promoting school spirit, especially during an uncertain year. 

While Duffy has persevered, he said that COVID-19 has made college difficult to navigate, as many other students can attest. 

“As someone who likes to be engaged in class and enjoys face-to-face interaction, COVID certainly made my school life more difficult. With that said, I was not going to let it get in the way of my goals, so I have done what I have needed to in order to acclimate myself to the new way of living and learning.”

Despite this challenging year, Duffy isn’t giving up on his education and future. After graduating, he is starting the Master of Accountancy program at Auburn University as part of his journey to becoming a certified public accountant. He's also starting a job at Deloitte in January. 

“I would like to do my part in keeping people honest as a part of financial reporting,” he said.

Duffy spoke with ASU Now about his time at ASU, advice for current students and what he’s learned during his time in Tempe.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: When I was in high school, I took an introductory accounting class to fulfill a credit requirement. At the time, I had no clue what I wanted to do past high school. After a while in the class, I began to enjoy how each problem was a puzzle and there was a particular way to solve it. I enjoyed the structure of the material. With help from my teacher, Mr. Brelje, I realized that this was something I could do in my future so I decided to pursue it. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? 

A: Early in my time at ASU, I had an assignment in one of my classes where I was told to put all of my other class assignments into a calendar. At the time this seemed like it was a waste of time. As things got busier that year, I realized how important organization was and how it would save me a lot of missed points in my classes. Now I cannot go anywhere without my Moleskine planner. My whole life is planned out in it, and I do not know what I would do without it. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: The second I set foot on ASU’s campus, I knew I wanted to be a Sun Devil. I was originally attracted to the good business school, but after visiting I saw that there was so much more. 

The campus is beautiful, the weather is wonderful but what I really loved was the support they offer for the students. Things like the tutoring centers, the writing center and the engagement events around campus. I could tell that they really cared about their students, and I wanted in on it. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? 

A: Mike Holt. He taught my ACC242 class my sophomore year. Professor Holt knew so much about the accounting industry from his long history in it. He did not just teach us from the book, but he also taught us how the principles would be applied in the industry and how they would help us. It gave me a better grasp on the material as well as making me feel more comfortable about going into the industry postgraduation. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? 

A: The best advice would be to give it your all. You only get to have this exact experience once, so make sure that you are making the most of it. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: My favorite spot on campus for studying would be the basement of the MU. The seating is nice, and there are a lot of different areas in there that provide different feels. 

My favorite spot overall would be “A” Mountain. I love hiking up it in the morning and watching the sun rise. It is quiet and relaxing. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: I am not sure how, but I would attempt to tackle climate change. I would tackle this because it is not an issue that affects just some of us. It is the fight of our generation, and if we do not do something about it quickly then we may lose the ability to ever fight it.

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