From Ukrainian émigré to rising star in accounting, Nikolya Serdyuk knows the value of location
Serdyuk (BA '05) came to California as a teenager. In 2009 the California Society of Certified Professional Accountants named him a rising star.
Adrienne Cantrell, CPA, is director of administration at Baker, Peterson & Franklin, CPA, LLP, where Serdyuk is a senior accountant. She's also past-president of California Society of CPAs. The society has more than 32,000 members in 14 chapters in the state and is focusing on young and emerging professionals as the future of accounting.
"He has a wonder combination of both technical skill and capability—he's a very bright young man—but he also has a high level of maturity," Cantrell says. Serdyuk leavens his professionalism with an engaging sense of fun and is liked by clients and colleagues. "When he says something, you pay attention," she adds.
"Engaging" and "fun" are attributes normally attached to comedians, not accountants. Serdyuk is trying to change that attitude through his work as an adjunct faculty member in the FPU accounting department.
Accountants are not dull people in small cubicles peering at the world through their computer screens. Rather, they work together and with clients. Teamwork is crucial. "Accounting is a people job," Serdyuk says. "Accountants have an amazing capability to look at numbers, look through them, understand what happened and reflect back and actually speak English and explain what those numbers really mean."
This rising star is well aware his teaching will affect the future of his profession. "Giving my examples or sharing my personal experience will make their life easier," he says. "Accounting is not a science, it is an art. That's why we have Enron and all the other creative schemes."
Teaching at FPU is natural for Serdyuk, since it was here he learned not only the basics of his profession but built up his ethical foundation.
"Fresno Pacific was actually chosen for me," is how Serdyuk puts it. His mother had come to the United States in the early 1990s to work and help support the family. She tried for five years to bring him and his sister over; nothing worked until he got a student visa. "God chose for me to come and study at a Christian university," he says.
Prayer became a part of Serdyuk's life thanks to his grandmother, a member of the Orthodox Church. "It kept me from trouble, I believe that," he says. He came to the U.S. one year after being baptized.
At FPU, students get all they need to succeed, Serdyuk says: professors open their doors and their hearts, the library is a good resource and just studying on the campus green allows you to connect with faculty and fellow students. "The environment itself just fostered my education," he adds.
This was important because, at 18, Serdyuk was still developing. "For every boy or young man it's really important to have affirmation from a father," he says; his father had stayed behind in Ukraine. "Some of the professors at Fresno Pacific stepped into that role for me." Peng Wen, economics, and Dean Gray, then on the accounting faculty, were two of those.
"He's got this gentlemanly nature that people respect," Gray says. "He's bright, engaged in the process, always asking questions." Gray enjoyed having Serdyuk speak to his classes and had him visit every semester. "To give my students a vision of what the future holds," he says.
Whatever his future holds, Serdyuk knows who brought him to where he is today. "That was a great plan God designed, by having Fresno Pacific as the place where I was able to grow, spiritually, as a person and professionally."
This article was written by Wayne Steffen and originally published in Pacific, November 2009.