acct. Buliding

Learning the Ropes

Renaissance Scholar Spencer Xie ’22 takes major life lessons from Leventhal into a bright future starting at Deloitte
Spencer Xie
Renaissance Scholar Spencer Xie relied on his cohort in the Global Leadership Program.

Leaving home for the first time is a huge step for any college freshman, but Spencer Xie ’22 was asked to take a literal leap of faith in one of his first classes at the USC Leventhal School of Accounting.

In the Global Leadership Program (GLP), open to the top 10% of freshmen at Marshall and Leventhal, students were challenged to attempt a ropes course to overcome their fears. “It was a transformative experience,” Xie said. “I learned to not be afraid to try new things and attempt what seems insurmountable.”

Xie took that life lesson to heart as he tackled the challenges of interdisciplinary studies in disparate fields. His outstanding achievements as an accounting major with minors in applied analytics at the Viterbi School of Engineering and in political science (law and public policy) at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences earned him the University’s recognition as a Renaissance Scholar.

The mindset established in GLP also helped him conquer a rigorous Department Honors thesis in which he proposed a framework for evaluating digital upskilling initiatives’ success—his proudest accomplishment at USC Leventhal.

“I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I signed up to work on it starting the spring of my junior year,” he said. “To dedicate myself to open-ended research, put myself in the position of evaluating work in peer-reviewed journals, and to create my own original work was a soul-devouring proposition. I learned to develop my own thoughts about others’ works and to not grow discouraged with honest critique.”

Indeed, Xie said he completely rewrote each chapter of his thesis at least three times after receiving feedback from his professors. “Starting from a blank page without much of a prompt was daunting but I found the drive to persist in my research and complete my thesis with the faith that the most important thing was to try, even if I didn’t feel 100% confident I would succeed. It’s the lingering doubt that could defeat me, but I learned that if I try the impossible, I’ll either succeed or have a support network to catch me—either way, I’ll be better off than if I had never tried.”

Xie’s support network includes the Leventhal Accounting Cohort and the GLP. “I learned so much from my mentors; it was how I felt the safety to grow with my peers,” said Xie, who pays it forward as a lead mentor with LAC and a teaching assistant with the GLP.

But support came from all around him. “Everyone in the Marshall community—peers, professors, and advisors—made me feel at home, comfortable to express my true self and supported if I should need that support network,” he said.

He said real-world learning experiences—in the classroom and with the GLP, which took him on a trip to Shanghai, and Leventhal’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, where he was a tax preparer and secretary-treasurer—prepared him well for his position in tech consulting with Deloitte. He’ll permanently relocate to Los Angeles after graduation, a visit back home to San Jose, Calif., and a little bit of travel. He might even have a little time for his hobbies, which include swimming, piano, and watching crime dramas.

The future looks bright. “My goal is to truly be pursuing my passion, to be invigorated to work every day with the prospect of learning and growing,” Xie said. “Along these lines, my dream is to eventually be in a position where I can tangibly create value in people’s lives. I’d love to be able to point to something and say I created it.”