Over the years, Julie Gilbert has turned the stereotypes that go along with accounting upside down.
Gilbert, known for her passionate teaching style at Triton College, recently won this year’s Illinois CPA Society Educator Award. The award recognizes Illinois college educators who excel in leadership and have made a continuous contribution to accounting education in the state.
“I felt like I won an Academy Award,” she said.
She was recommended for the award by a former student, which she says is special in itself. Working to take the stereotypes of accounting being a boring subject or career has been her goal since she started teaching at Triton in 2006.
“Accounting is exciting and it’s fun,” she said. “I’m very passionate about what I teach. I try to make it fun and I try to relate it to the real world.”
Setting up the Accounting Club at the college was one ways she tried to do that. The club, which was formed in 2007, promoted students’ growth in their academic, personal and professional lives and members didn’t have to major in accounting to get in.
Since its’ inception the club has organized workshops, had guest speakers and its members have gone on field trips to different accounting firms and movie nights. She said the club started out with about 25 and is now one of the biggest clubs on campus.
“It’s a way to get the students more connected to the school and it looks great on a resume,” she said.
For her accounting students, she formed Homework Connection, which meets about two days a week to go over and discuss accounting homework.
“The students really like this,” she said. “They engage with each other and they learn more.”
During these sessions, Gilbert makes herself accessible to the students if they as questions, but no answers to her homework assignments are given out.
“It’s very engaging,” she said.
Although she started out working in the corporate sector after graduating from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she went back to school to get her master’s degree at Northern Illinois University so that she could teach the subject she loves. She said this is what she’s always wanted to do.
“I have the best job in the world,” she said. “You can help people so much. I’ll always teach.”