Sam Cabrera, a student in the NC State Jenkins Master of Accounting program, is also a member of the North Carolina Army National Guard. He is one of about 170 military affiliated students enrolled in Poole College, and one of about 700 across the various academic degree programs at NC State University.
In an email interview with Poole College communications for several Veterans’ Day-related stories, Cabrera discussed both his military commitment and his decision to pursue his MAC degree in preparation for a career in accounting.
Cabrera joined the NC Army National Guard in 2014, serving initially as a Field Artillery Automated Tactical Data System Specialist and now as a Fire Control Specialist – both part of the Army’s mission-critical communications network. He plans to complete a basic leadership course in preparation for achieving the rank of sergeant.
In September, Cabrera said, “I had the honor of going to France for a ceremony in remembrance of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne offensive in northeastern France, which my unit fought in 100 years ago.” It was America’s deadliest battle, costing 26,000 lives, including members of Cabrera’s unit.
“Eight of us from the NC National Guard went to the ceremony; that in itself made it an honor,” he said. “When attending the ceremonies, I felt great pride in representing my unit and the NC National Guard.”
Cabrera and the others from his unit laid a wreath and their unit pin and unit patch at the gravesite of John W. Menton private first class, who died in battle on October 3, 1918. In the photo at the cemetery are, left to right: SGT Gary Spencer, 2nd Lt. Grant Metheny, CPT David McDonald, SPC Samuel Cabrera, LTC Larry Coleman (Ret.), SFC Frankie Anderson, SSG William Taylor and 1st Lt. Brian Hedrick.
The military commitment is one part of Cabrera’s life. He also is working on his second degree from the NC State Poole College of Management, having first earned his bachelor’s in accounting.
Poole College accounting programs: challenging and rewarding
Cabrera said he chose Poole College after seeking advice from a cousin, who had started at Poole College while in the final years of his active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I knew I wanted to do something in business and reached out to an older cousin who now has become my full-time mentor,” Cabrera said. That cousin also studied accounting, but did not bring that up when the two initially began talking. “Rather, he asked me a bunch of questions to see what I would like, and offered things to consider when choosing something in business. I ended up going with accounting because I felt like it is both a specialization and a broad field,” he said.
After earning his bachelor’s in accounting, Cabrera said he researched other colleges for a master’s program, but what he learned “only affirmed my decision to go to NC State. I felt like I learned accounting the best way I could, and it was thanks to NC State and the amazing faculty and staff at the Poole College of Management.
“My undergraduate program was amazing – the right amount of challenging work, with each course adding a layer of knowledge that I could take to the next course and be fully prepared, set up for success,” he said.
Now in the Jenkins MAC program at Poole College, he said that it is very challenging, in terms of content and time commitment. “I truly feel like I am working a full-time job while also going to class. It takes discipline, advanced time management, and effective communication to be successful in the program,” skills that he said he developed while in the National Guard.
While challenging, Cabrera said that he finds the program is also rewarding because, “the work you do is not something that you will only do in class; it is something that you will see again at some point in your career. It is all practical, making the time and effort you put into each assignment more meaningful because you know that you are closer to the professional you want to be when heading out to the workforce,” he said.
“The PCOM (Poole College of Management) is amazing,” he added. “They have various resources that anyone can access. It is something I feel most students take for granted, including myself. The faculty is great, always willing to work with you,” noting that developing effective communication with his professors is important.
“Overall, I attribute my success to the effort that is made by every member of the PCOM, which includes students, faculty, and staff – something for which I will forever be grateful.”
Progress Toward Career Goals
While still a student, Cabrera said he has already achieved some of the goals he set in his junior and senior years at Poole College.
From the start of his undergraduate studies, he said he wanted to work for one of the large Big 4 accounting firms. After receiving, and declining, an offer from one of the smaller firms in the Big 4, Cabrera doubled-down on his studies and entered the recruiting cycle during his senior year “better prepared for interviews and greater confidence in my competence,” he said.
“I then received internship offers from two of the larger Big 4 firms, and interned with Deloitte this past summer,” he said. “I also received and have accepted a full-time offer to start after graduation. Again, this is all attributable to the Poole College of Management. I was able to translate to prospective employers the challenging work I have done, which has made me into a relatively knowledgeable and competitive candidate.”
He added: “I ended up choosing the Guard because I felt like it would be the best way I could achieve my goals while being active in my son’s life. Turns out the Guard did more than just help me achieve my goals; I ended up setting new and harder ones.”
About the 113th Field Artillery Regiment Flag
All U.S. regimental flags bear the national eagle. The eagle holds 13 arrows for the original 13 colonies in its left claw. In its right is an olive branch. Together, this symbolizes that the U.S. has a strong desire for peace but is always ready for war. The hornets nest above represent the North Carolina National Guard. In the middle is the unit’s crest (insignia), which is the shield. Enlisted soldiers wear it on their beret. The color red represents the field artillery. The bird on the top half of the shield represents the Battle of Montfaucon, one of the most critical battles. In the bottom half are three fleurs-de-lis, which represents the three battles in which the regiment fought during World War I. The regiment’s motto is ‘Carry On.’