Volume X, Issue 1 | February 13, 2024

A Contagious Love for Accounting

Greg Brookins has been helping students fall in love with accounting since Little League led him to teaching. A former accountant for Ernst & Young and Fox Entertainment, Greg takes a passion for equity beyond his classroom.

SMC In Focus




They say the secret to being an outstanding teacher is to love what you teach. Students will sense that affection and perhaps come to share it. That’s exactly what happened to Omari Gordon in Greg Brookins’ Accounting 1 class. “Professor Brookins brainwashed me,” says the 30-year-old Atlanta native, smiling brightly.

Greg has been “brainwashing”—in the best possible way—Corsairs like Omari for 25 years. The beloved accounting professor begins each semester with a lively narrative detailing his early years in the trade.

“My experiences as an accountant were fun,” Greg says, referring to his time with Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young and Fox Entertainment. “I tell my students that I traveled on business to Caracas and Rio de Janeiro. To Panama and Sydney, Australia. To Rome, Tokyo and Seoul. And that was all before I turned 30,” he says.

Greg’s enthusiasm proved contagious to Omari, who will transfer to Cal State Northridge as an accounting major in the fall.

“Professor Brookins called accounting ‘the language of business.’ He showed me how accounting is in every industry and in every part of the world,” says Omari. “Once I saw that, it grabbed a hold of me. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”


Accounting suffers from an outdated reputation as drudgery bent over dusty ledgers. Greg sees it as his mission to break this stereotype. Evangelizing for the accounting profession is especially important now, when it faces a crisis due to shortages in the student pipeline.  

“I really do try to make it as entertaining as it can be,” Greg says, of his teaching method. Traditionally, accounting professors would pass on their skills via information-packed lectures. “The old model was the sage-on-the-stage,” Greg says. “With me, it’s all about the Socratic back-and-forth. I put my students in break-out groups to discuss accounting principles. I give examples. I invite students to ask questions. There are no bad questions!”

Though stereotypes stubbornly linger in pop culture, the accountant’s role has changed dramatically in the information age. Gone are the days of adding columns of numbers wearing green eyeshades. Today’s accountant is at the forefront of important business decisions, using cutting-edge digital tech to guide diverse organizations. 

“I used to think of an accountant as someone like Chandler from Friends,” Omari says. “You go in, you’re at your desk. You just do balances and bank reconciliations.”

Two weeks into his Accounting 1 class with Greg, Omari knew better.  At the time, Omari was a fashion model holding down a day job as a psychiatric hospital health tech. Setting his sights on a career in the financial industry, he’d enrolled as a business major at SMC in 2020.

After his epiphany in Greg’s class, Omari button-holed his professor to inquire about SMC’s accounting program. Greg happily explained the options. Later, he connected Omari with the California Society of CPAs, where the latter is now employed as a student recruiter. Last semester, Omari was Greg’s teaching assistant for Accounting 1.


Born and raised in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Greg had discovered accounting as a teenager. An aptitude test taken in 11th grade career guidance class at University High clearly pointed him in that direction. “So I took an accounting class in 12th grade,” he recalls, “and it made sense in my brain. I never looked back from there.”

After graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from USC’s respected Leventhal School of Accounting, Greg went to work for Ernst & Young. A couple of years later, he moved over to Fox Inc. Internal audits took Greg to TV stations in major markets like New York, Dallas, Houston and Washington, D.C. Once he transferred to Fox’s corporate offices, international projects took Greg all over the world. In addition to vetting film, television and distribution operations on every continent, he says, “I would read scripts from time to time, because we did audits of motion picture productions. Believe it or not, I actually counted votes for the preliminaries of the Golden Globes while working for Ernst & Young.”

Greg comes from a family of educators. His grandmother, mother, aunt and sister all are or were school teachers. Two uncles were college administrators. Yet it never dawned on Greg to try his hand at teaching until he started coaching baseball. He’d played varsity ball through high school, and continued playing softball in college and recreationally right up to the pandemic. But he found coaching Little League—which he started doing in 1996, first with his oldest nephew, later with his sons, and now with others’ children—so satisfying that he started seriously thinking about making a career adjustment: Instead of practicing accounting, why not teach it?

“Teaching was in my DNA, I guess,” he says, with a chuckle. Greg’s academic career at SMC grew from an adjunct faculty job in 1999 to a full-time appointment in 2001. “And here I am almost 25 years into it, and I’m still really enjoying this place,” says Greg, now a tenured professor.

He knows he could earn two or three times as much working in the private sector, but he loves everything about his current life. His wife, Charlie, is an admissions associate, film/television development consultant and entrepreneur with a faith-based health and fitness business. They live in the Windsor Hills neighborhood with their two sons, James, 16, and Jordan, 13.

Greg loves the diversity he encounters every day at SMC, where   he routinely hears 12 to 20 different languages being spoken in his classrooms. He loves the equity work taking place at SMC. Greg got involved with the Black Collegians Umoja Community as soon as he started teaching at the college. He and other African American and Latinx men collaborated in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder to form the Men of Color Action Network. Greg was also a faculty lead for two cohorts of “Equitizing Gateway Courses”, in which colleagues learn and collaborate on practices aimed at reducing equity gaps for Black and Latinx students.

He relishes the faculty service roles he plays. For 15 years, Greg served enthusiastically on the Academic Senate. Other leadership positions include past chair of the Student Affairs Committee and 10 years helming the Honor Council. SMC was the first California community college to have an honor code, he notes with pride. “That’s important to me, because honesty, integrity, respect, social responsibility and civility are important,” he says. “I’m an accountant, after all, and we take ethics exams to become CPAs.”

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