October 19, 2001

Kenneth Macias, From Vato to Entrepreneur

A Competitive Spirit and a Little Extra Push From A Teacher Made a Difference

How does a young man go from being a platform show wearing, cool guy in the `70s to the founder of one of the top auditing, tax and business advisory firms in the country? With a competitive spirit and a little extra push from a teacher that cared, that's how.

Kenneth Macias, CPA, founder and managing partner of Macias, Gini & Company LLP, identifies very well with the Lou Diamond Phillips character in the film Stand and Deliver. At Kennedy High School in Sacramento, Macias was a smart kid who receive A's and B's in advanced math courses but who still wanted to be "cool" and accepted.

"I didn't feel I was different until junior high," explains Macias about his ethnicity. There he befriend a group of Latino street youths. "I wanted to be cool, so I was a good student in the day and a `vato' in the evenings," he recalls. But when his competitive nature with his classmates floundered, Mrs. Steinberg, his algebra and trigonometry teacher in high school saw to it that he was put back on track. By tacking a little extra time with him when she saw that he was not performing to his full potential, Mrs. Steinberg made a big difference in Macias' life. She pushed him to deliver all he was capable of and to excel.

Ten years ago, Macias ran into his former teacher who he now fondly remembers as one of his favorites. Recalling that he was that "stand and deliver" student in the back of the classroom, she was proud to learn of his great accomplishments. When she invited him to speak to her advanced calculus class, Macias was more than happy to return to the classroom because he wanted to return the favor and help make a difference in another student's life.

A proud product of the public school system, Macias has achieved fantastic success, both in business and academia. His clients include the cities of Los Angeles and San Jose, the Los Angeles International Airport, the counties of Sacramento and Santa Clara and the state of California. He holds a doctorate, three masters' degrees, and a bachelor's degree. His financial success allows him to give back to his community in the form of numerous scholarships to Latino and business and accountancy students. Despite all he has accomplished, he still looks back to his school days and remembers those people that made a difference of his life.

Over the next decade the state will need to find 300,000 people to take on the challenging but rewarding job of teaching California's children. As an extension of ongoing recruitment efforts led by CalTeach (the California Center for Teaching Careers) the Hispanic Heritage Month campaign "Inspire a Future Leader. Teach," is a statewide public education campaign to attract individuals to the teaching profession - especially Latinos.

CalTeach is a one-stop information, referral and recruitment center for individuals interested in a teaching career. Administered by the California State University. Office of the Chancellor, CalTeach offers a variety of information and advisor-assisted services. Established in 1997 by the California Legislature, the goal of CalTeach is to recruit qualified individuals to the teaching profession and alleviate the shortage of credentialed teachers in the state. For more information on how to become a teacher, please call CalTeach at 1-888-CALEACH or visit www.calteach.com.

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