Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“Every time you start a financial investigation…you never know what you’re going to find. ”—Joan Drabczyk ’05
When Joan Drabczyk joined the New York State Grievance Committee of the Appellate Division, Second Department in 2008, she quickly discovered that her new role would allow her to combine the knowledge and skills she received from studying accounting at Adelphi with the legal and auditing experiences she had acquired during and after graduation.
In her current role, she specializes in auditing attorney escrow accounts. When a formal complaint is filed against a lawyer or a check bounces in an attorney escrow account, a confidential investigation commences.
“We receive boxes of paperwork that I have to dig through. Every time you start a financial investigation or are confirming the accuracy of the books, you never know what you’re going to find. That’s the excitement,” she said. “One bit of information leads to another…until eventually you get the whole picture.”
Ms. Drabczyk assists the staff attorneys in every aspect of the case, including at a hearing which could eventually result in a suspension of the attorney’s license or a disbarment.
“Before this job, I had never been exposed to investigating, but I found out that I was pretty good at it. I have good intuition,” said Ms. Drabczyk, who finds her work rewarding because she is able to help people who have been victimized by lawyers.
“We have people who come in who have literally lost their life savings, their homes from right beneath them…people who are filing bankruptcy because an attorney stole their money,” she said. “I’m just glad that I am able to help in getting their money back or hold the attorney accountable.”
While she loves what she does, Ms. Drabczyk could not have predicted this is where she would be today. “My career took a life of its own and brought me here.” Being open to opportunities as they presented themselves also helped Ms. Drabczyk find her way at Adelphi.
She originally came to the University thinking she would major in biology. One accounting class with Professor Yang and an elective with Spanish Professor Amador changed that. “I decided to double major in accounting and international studies, with a concentration in Spanish.”
Ms. Drabczyk, a first generation American whose parents immigrated to the United States from Poland, had traveled frequently to Europe visiting family. “Between my background and interest in international affairs and the buzz about globalization and businesses going overseas, I felt that having accounting and international studies with a language, and also knowing Polish, would give me a solid foundation.”
With a full and rigorous course load, she took advantage of Adelphi’s opportunity to study abroad during the summer. In addition to studying the political and economic structure of the European Union at London’s Richmond University, she also had the opportunity to visit England, Belgium, France, Spain, Luxemburg and Germany. “In each country, we had scheduled presentations to attend at the participating institutions,” she said.
She loved the experience so much that she ended up returning to Adelphi to sign up for another semester abroad that coming spring, this time at London’s University of Westminster. Studying abroad is an experience she recommends to any Adelphi student: “It exposes you to different cultures and people. Once you are done with school and focused on work, you don’t have time to do that. If you are going to travel, and particularly if you want to see several countries at once, do it during college!”
Her dream job would be to work for a federal government agency like the FBI and do financial fraud investigations on a large scale, ideally at an international level.
The well-rounded experience she received at Adelphi has provided her with the knowledge and skills for her daily work and the inspiration to reach for her career aspirations. “Without the education I received at Adelphi, I would not be where I am today.”
Ms. Drabczyk earned a certificate in forensic accounting from NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies and has completed the Certified Fraud Examiner exam. She is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the New York City ACFE Chapter, and attends the Long Island ACFE meetings. In addition to her involvement with these professional organizations, she also volunteers her time as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Paralegal Studies Program Department at LaGuardia Community College.