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Very Important Bobcat: Luca Cancellieri ’16

By April 23, 2020Alumni

Luca Cancellieri ’16

Master of Accounting


What brought you to St. Thomas University?

After obtaining a bachelor and a master’s degree in Italy, St. Thomas University was among a few universities recommended to me by an immigration attorney when I first moved to Florida from my home country. The choice ended up being STU for the strong Catholic imprint and especially after several talks I had with the program director and some professors during my first visits to the campus. I am so glad I chose St. Thomas University. STU and its people have been my family for the past 2 years and they will always will be.

Where are you now and what are you doing?

I am a licensed CPA (Certified Public Accountant), currently working for a mid-size CPA firm named ZOMMA Group, LLP with offices in Coral Gables and Brickell. As Senior Accountant, my role is to focus on tax compliance and consulting for corporate and individual, domestic and international clients. The partners at the firm quickly became my mentors and continuously help me grow within my profession and personally.

What do you like most about what you are doing?

I love math and numbers! I have always loved them. In 7th grade I already knew I wanted to be a CPA. What I like the most is that I’m able to help our clients and their businesses in handling their finances and making their financial decisions. I like knowing that my clients can rely on us when they need it because we have the expertise.

How did your experience at St. Thomas University shape your career path?

St. Thomas University gave me more confidence. I always had a confident mindset, but STU taught me discipline and how to manage my time effectively. In addition, I found a job though the Career Services department that helped me get on track towards the career I envisioned for myself. STU definitely set the basis for my career path.

Share your favorite St. Thomas University memory?

Just one? Well, we can start off from having classes held in local restaurants as rewards for a job well done or having Papa John’s Pizza with professors and classmates after a long night on campus. One amazing experience was definitely our Case Analysis Competition held in Cleveland. Along with two classmates, I traveled to present our study case in front of other universities. After months of preparation, we placed in the top five! My favorite memory was, without a doubt, my graduation day. I had the privilege of having my entire family fly to the United Staes to be by my side and was able to read an Italian prayer during the end-of-the-year Mass. What a special moment! Such a great memory that I will always carry with me.

What is the most important thing you learned while you were attending St. Thomas University?

Does English count? Jokes aside, at STU I had the opportunity to improve my language skills. The diversity at STU made it it easy to be exposed and speak a foreign language on a daily basis. Career-wise, I obtained my CPA license, and that is definitely thanks to my studies at STU. Not only I have learned the subject, but I have also learned how to apply it in the field, in a real work environment. My coursework prepared me to be responsible, professional and adaptable.

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?

Follow what your professors tell you. They have the experience and knowledge to guide you towards the right path. Also, don’t limit yourself to just go to class. Be curious and go beyond what the books say. Inform yourself, get out there, learn how to talk to people and potential clients, and always remember that networking opens doors to many opportunities. Lastly, use the Career Services tools. They are useful and I’m sure you won’t regret reaching out.

How did your education at St. Thomas University prepare you for what you are doing today?

As I mentioned, what I have achieved so far in my career is thanks to my studies at STU. My classes were practical and taught me how to handle real-life cases. Our professors exposed us to the endless possibilities through weekly speakers, sometimes CFOs and CEOs of major South Florida companies. And best of all, my professors supported me throughout the learning process. Even monthly class presentations, which most students dread, help me speak in front of a big audience now with a breeze.

What activities were you involved in when you were at St. Thomas University?

I was an International student, so I had a few things I had to navigate before getting settled. After 4 months in, I was able to get a job interview and subsequently a job! Being so far away from home in a completely new world was tough, so I was happy to start finding my way. Afterward, I also became a coordinator at the STU Career Services. While I was there, I helped students improve their resumes and obtain internships with South Florida employers.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

 I am a soccer guy. I am Italian, duh! I play soccer semi-professionally here in Miami, watch soccer, and  support it any chance I get. Soccer was the only thing I was unable to pursue at STU.  I spoke to the STU Athletics Director, Laura Courtley-Todd, my first day on campus because I wanted to know how I could play for the soccer team. Since I had joined STU as graduate student, I was ineligible. That was the only moment of disappointment I had in my 2 years at STU. Nothing else! And that did not stop me from loving STU. I will always love it. Everyone at St. Thomas University really has the chance to become a leader for life.

Michelle Tulande

Author Michelle Tulande

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