I AM UAA: Brian Franklin

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Accounting, Class of 2012
University Honors College Scholar
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
Fun Fact: Owns his own tutoring business

I am UAA - Brian FranklinYou know how some airlines have that radio channel where you can listen to air traffic control? "I was always on that as a kid," says 2012 senior Brian Franklin. "I always wanted to be the one talking on that channel. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be involved in aviation."

And he literally means "as a kid." He was 14 when he started training for his private pilot's license, flew his solo test on his 16th birthday, and got his license at 17, "because those are the ages you're allowed to do those things."

So it's not surprising that Brian had his sights set on a degree in aviation as he shopped around for college programs nationwide and chose UAA.

"I knew people from the Bay Area who had come up here specifically for air traffic control," he says. "I was eyeing aviation management, and there are a lot of opportunities here for that as well. I thought it was a lot better value to come here for the program than other schools, and all the firms that mattered to me still recruited up here."

As soon as he was accepted, he also applied for UAA's Honors College and has been an honors student since his freshman year.

"I think it is important to be around other students who are motivated and faculty who push you to do more than you thought you could do," he says about making the decision to apply. "That's the type of environment that allows people to discover what they're capable of doing."

The arrangement has worked out splendidly for Brian. As he's applied himself, professors also nudged him in directions he hadn't originally considered, with great results. First, a good example of how he's applied himself: A few months after beginning his freshman year, he recognized the need for a little extra cash, so he started his own tutoring business. Aside from the fact that starting your own business as a freshman in college is pretty notable, it was his relationships with his professors that took him the next step.

"I happened to take an accounting class for the aviation degree, when my professor [Professor Patrick Fort] said I wasn't too bad at it and should maybe consider it as a major," says Brian. "So I switched majors from aviation to accounting and it has worked really well with growing my business."

Frontier Tutoring went from just Brian in 2008 to a full-time business partner and 15 paid employees in 2012 that serve the Anchorage School District, college students and other non-traditional students. As he's been earning his B.B.A. in Accounting, he's been directly applying his classroom education to the real world.

Professor Fort later became Brian's thesis advisor, along with Professor Kevin Dow, as Brian embarked on studying the different accounting techniques and management incentives of the various frequent flier programs among the seven major airlines in the U.S.

"I really had to go into my research with an open mind," Brian says. "I thought the process was going to be pretty one-dimensional as I looked at the mechanics of each accounting method, but in reality it was a lot more interesting and involved. I talked to people here at UAA who were able to point me in other directions I was able to take the paper and the final product turned out completely different, and better, than what I thought it was going to be."

Brian also attributes his experience with undergraduate research through the University Honors College with standing out in job and grad school interviews. So much so, that Brian has been accepted into Harvard's prestigious M.B.A. program as part of the Class of 2016.

"It's actually a deferred admission," he explains. "They want me to work two more years, so I just accepted a job in the Bay Area at an airport finance consulting company. The fact that I could say I chose to do a thesis on this aviation-related topic, in both interviews, was really helpful. Plus I've actually learned something by doing it!"

So obviously he hasn't left the field of aviation in the past. It's going to be very much a part of his future and he's excited about the possibilities. Including the possibility to return to Alaska someday.

"I like it up here a lot," he says, including his involvement in the Accounting Club and Professor Dow's Justice for Fraud Victims Program. "I really tried hard in the job search process to stay here. I'd like to maybe move back here after the M.B.A."

And in the meantime, he will continue to remain a partner in his tutoring business that serves the Anchorage Bowl and remember his time at UAA fondly. "Had I gone to any other school, I don't think there would have been the same environment that allowed me to start a business," he says. "There is a lot of untapped opportunity here that I don't think really exists in that many other places. If you have the drive and the motivation, you can still do some very cool stuff here because it just hasn't been done yet."

Spoken, and played, like a true pioneer.

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