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Alumni Ryan Gomendi owes Master of Accountancy to current success

Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Ryan Gomendi owes Master of Accountancy to current success

ryan gomendi

Ryan Gomendi

Hometown: Helena, MT

Graduation Year: 2008

Degree: Master of Accountancy

Current Occupation: Owner/Financial Advisor at Strategic Retirement Plans

After just two accounting courses, alumnus Ryan Gomendi chose to change his major from business to accounting. He now has a Master of Accountancy degree, a certified financial planner certification, and an unbridled passion for Rocky Mountain College. 

“I ended up having [Anthony] Piltz for what would have been [Intermediate Accounting]. He’s just an excellent teacher that cared deeply and I think challenged me,” Ryan said. “I fell in love with the process of learning under him. He helped me see the opportunities I would have by following through with that degree, even if the traditional public accounting world was not for me.”

The Master of Accountancy program allows students to build on skills and knowledge developed through undergraduate coursework to become skilled, entry-level professional accountants upon graduation. Many of the students in the program initially take an introductory accounting course as part of majoring in business. They’re then drawn into the program either due to the content, the process of learning under their professors, or both, as was the case with Ryan.

Graduates of the Accountancy program who sit for the CPA exam have success. Rocky Mountain College has ranked at or near the top compared to other Montana institutions in terms of the overall CPA exam pass rate of their graduates. Anthony Piltz, one of Ryan’s professors, still teaches accounting courses while managing RMC as provost. Cedric Snelling, one of Ryan’s former classmates, returned to RMC as an instructor and is now an associate professor in the program.

Ryan knew during his time at Rocky that he wanted a master’s degree. Although he considered  going elsewhere, he saw the RMC Master of Accountancy program as a no-brainer. A player on the Battlin’ Bears men’s basketball team, Ryan already had a passion for the college. However, it was the opportunities available in the program, as well as his relationships with the professors, that persuaded him to stay at Rocky. 

The Master of Accountancy program is small and intimate, allowing each student to receive individual guidance. Professors know their students personally and can give them the knowledge to succeed in their particular field, as well as introduce students to possible future employers. Rather than being anonymous at a big university, RMC students know they matter and someone in the program cares about them. During Ryan’s college years and still today, students in the program form study groups outside of class to prepare for tests. Students are close enough on campus that they can succeed in their pursuit of a master’s degree.

Although the program prepares students to become skilled, entry-level professional accountants upon graduation, the skills gained can be applied to many different professions. Graduates have expanded into varying positions later in their careers, ranging from a CEO to a CFO to a CIO. Anyone interested in the diverse fields of business management can stand to gain from the knowledge taught in the accounting program. By studying in the Master of Accountancy program, Ryan was prepared to pass the certified financial planner certification exam.

“Our program is designed that way, not to train students for a specific job or a specific career, but to educate students to be able to do wherever they’re led to,” said Cedric Snelling. “In their professional career, they have the capability to do a lot of different things. Not just one job or two jobs or be a public accountant or whatever it might be; just be a successful professional in a lot of different avenues.”

Ryan worked for Faith Chapel from 2008-2016 in a managerial position before entering his current occupation as a financial advisor. Although he took an unconventional approach to get where he is today, Ryan firmly believes he would do it again. 

“No matter what route I went, I thought you’ll always need some level of accounting or tax [knowledge] in your life,” Ryan said. “For someone that really didn’t have a plan on where I wanted to go, it did exactly what I was told. It just opened up doors, whether it was ministry or nonprofit, all the way to a very competitive financial industry.”

Years after receiving his Master of Accountancy degree, Ryan came back to campus to thank his professors. Ryan appreciates his education more and more as he gets older and deeply values the Rocky experience. He feels, specifically towards Anthony Piltz, grateful for the personal investment taken into him personally and that it resulted in his current success. 

“I think a master’s degree will always set you apart,” Ryan said. “In the financial world, it’s one of those things that you have to have. There's a lot of areas you can go in, but I just think that there’s so much application that you get an exposure to different topics, and eventually you’ll get really, really good at those. But the master’s program introduced me to all those subjects, so I was prepared for it. For the right person, the master’s program will open up doors one hundred percent.”