A group of students does yoga in a gym. They are in warrior pose.
Accounting Course Teaches Students How to Live
Julie Persellin provides accounting students with unique experiences

When you picture an accounting class, you probably think of students quietly working on spreadsheets and calculators. What you might not picture is a group of students doing yoga or cooking Mediterranean dinners. You can find both of these activities, among many others, in Julie Persellin's “Tools of Holistic Wellbeing” course, which is a requirement for students in the accounting masters program. 

In March 2020, the University received a $275,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. The grant provides funds for ED CLIC, which stands for Empowering Department Chairs to Lead and Implement Change, through May 2022. ED CLIC intends to empower department chairs to develop their leadership capacity while addressing institutional needs. For the 10 department chairs in the program, components of ED CLIC include working with a professional coach, attending 20 professional development sessions, and developing change initiative projects with their coaches and colleagues.

Persellin, Ph.D., is the chair of the accounting department and one of the faculty members selected to participate in ED CLIC. She used the funding to create the one hour holistic wellbeing course, which falls under the Master of Science in Accounting program. 

“The past couple of years have been extremely stressful. Providing students with a variety of tools/skills/experiences that can be used to enhance personal wellbeing and academic/professional success seemed to be a natural choice,” Persellin says. 

The holistic wellbeing course may seem contrary to the precise and mathematical nature of accounting, but Persellin believes in teaching students to live well-rounded lives. “I believe one of the things that the last couple of years has taught many of us is the importance of maintaining balance in our lives. My hope is that this course will provide students with an expanded toolkit of life skills that will contribute to maintaining that balance, as well as to their personal wellbeing and professional success long after they leave Trinity,” she says. 

The course offers a variety of hands-on lessons taught by Trinity faculty and alumni. This semester, the class participated in a variety of activities, including:  

  • A yoga and meditation session
  • A personal finance class covering the decisions faced by students in the year following graduation from Trinity (budgeting, credit scores, home and car buying, etc.)
  • A course on how health care works and how to make it work for you 
  • A nature walk in the botanical gardens, making use of the research-based technique of forest therapy
  • A cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America 
  • A storytelling session that teaches students how to tell their personal stories using a pivotal moment in their lives

Danielle Flaherty M’22 appreciates the practicality of the course, saying it is like no other class she’s taken at Trinity. “The lectures that we've had have covered topics that I believe will be really applicable to my life once I graduate, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to get advice from professionals about things such as budgeting and the healthcare system before I have to navigate those things fully on my own.”

James Dodd M’22 values the course’s unique lessons after several years studying accounting: “As someone who has solely studied accountancy for several years, this class created an aura of excitement in the fact that I would learn something completely new that could benefit my life post-university.

Matilda Krell '23 helps tell Trinity's story as a writing intern for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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