One Night with CFE’s One Percent

CFE Honour Roll 2019On February 20th 2020, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) faculty, staff, alumni, and members of CPA Ontario gathered in downtown Toronto to celebrate the successes of SAF graduates in their Common Final Examinations (CFE) to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). The National Cub on Bay Street graciously held the event for us in their front room, which immediately made me forget that we were in the middle of Toronto and not a century old English manor house. Wooden walls with gold accents connecting to a tile floor decorated by Persian rugs made the room warm and inviting for all our guests to walk into. Fresh roses lay out on the entrance table to be later pinned to our honour roll recipients after their video interview. By 4:30 p.m. all the honour roll members arrived and began catching up with old friends from their undergraduate days. I watched as some of them paced back and forth, rehearsing the script they had written on their phones under their breaths. Although they may have seemed nervous, I believe it was just excitement.

One by one, I lead them to a large striped arm chair to have them tell me their stories. With the fireplace roaring behind them in the soft light of the interview space they all recounted to me about how they wouldn’t be where they are today without the knowledge and experience gained from the School of Accounting and Finance. I realized these weren’t empty words when Steve Fortin tells the room later that night that 15 out of 28 Ontario Honor Roll members were SAF graduates. There were more speeches from past honour roll recipients, alumni, and the National Gold Medal winner, Michael Wong. The room was full of never-ending laughter and applause from the celebratory words of the speakers.

As the night proceeded and as delicious hors d’oeuvres made their way around the room while conversations ignited, it really hit me how well SAF prepares its students for the future. I was in a room with the top one percent of CFE examination writers, and they all attended the same post-secondary school I did. Even Carol Wilding, president and CEO of CPA Ontario, herself said she wished she was a SAF alumna in her speech. Although I have been attending UWaterloo for coming up on two years in the fall, I never really came into contact with the SAF world, but I am fully impressed with its programing and the ambition its students seem to all have in common.

The night began to wind down as people begin putting their scarfs back on and shuffling out the doors back into the chilly, busy Toronto streets. Their eyes expressed pure content as they thanked Steve and the SAF team for a lovely celebration event, which indeed it was.

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