Twins by chance, classmates by choice

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Sisters Stephanie Nguyen and Jessica Nguyen celebrate graduating from the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program and passing the CPA Common Final Examination (CFE) together. During their time at the University of Waterloo they had in each other a built-in best friend, study partner and cheerleader.

by Alyana Versolatto

Stephanie and Jessica Nguyen holding diplomas and flowers

It’s common for twins to share a bond unlike any other. Stephanie Nguyen (MAcc ’22) and Jessica Nguyen (MAcc ’22) not only share a bond, but the same career path and similar interests. After a CPA Ambassador came to talk to their high school class, it sparked them to apply to the Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) program at the School of Accounting and Finance. After an undergrad spent rooming together in residence, going on various co-op work terms and participating in extra-curriculars, they graduated and continued their studies in the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program. Both sisters found full-time roles in their field after graduation, with Stephanie working at TELUS as a financial analyst and Jessica working at Lipton LLP as a staff accountant. They celebrated passing the Common Final Examination (CFE) in fall 2022 and their goal is to achieve their CPA designations in the next year or two.

The School caught up with Stephanie and Jessica to discuss their twin bond, career journey, and how they plan to celebrate Family Day this year.

What inspired you both to enroll in the AFM and MAcc program?

Stephanie and Jessica Nguyen holding their diplomas and flowers

JN: During high school a CPA Ambassador came to talk to our grade 11 accounting class, which first sparked my interest in a career in accounting.

SN: We heard about the AFM program from a friend who highly recommended the University of Waterloo because of its amazing co-op program, reputation, and the opportunity to get real-life work experience before graduating university. We both decided to apply after visiting SAF’s Open House event and getting a glimpse of the program and where it could take us.

JN: As for the MAcc program, knowing that the professors would help us prepare for the CFE, and having the ability to continue classes with my undergrad friends pushed us to apply.

What do you love the most about your twin sister?

SN: Jessica is very kind, driven and determined. I followed her to Waterloo to pursue accounting and she impressed me every day with her stellar work ethic and determination to make the most out of her degree. I love that she was extremely patient with me in explaining course concepts so we can both thrive, and I could not have gotten through the past five years without her support.

JN: Stephanie is a very caring person and makes sure that everyone is taken care of and is enjoying themselves. She can strike up a conversation with anyone. I know that without her; I wouldn’t be as outgoing as I am and comfortable with myself.

What makes you proud of your sister?

Jessica and Stephanie Nguyen

SN: I am most proud of all the accomplishments we were able to accomplish together in the past five years. From graduating AFM, all the co-op work terms we did, getting into the MAcc program, and passing the CFE.

JN: I am proud of how Stephanie is confident and not afraid to take risks. She was vice-president of internal events at the Accounting and Finance Student Association (AFSA) where she flourished and was an amazing leader.

How did you help each other thrive at university?

SN: Jessica was always very adamant on going to every class, taking notes, and participating to get the most out of her education. She helped me stay focused in our studies and I made sure that we took breaks and made time for other things outside of school like extra-curriculars, visiting family, and spending time with friends.

JN: It is not a secret that university is difficult and lots of hard work is needed to succeed. Having someone we knew and was comfortable with right from the start allowed us to transition to university life easier.

What do you like most about being a twin?

Jessica and Stephanie Nguyen hugging

SN: I loved being able to go through university with my best friend. We did everything together and it made every accomplishment ten times better knowing I did it with my sister. I never felt homesick because I had her with me.

JN: Having a built-in best friend no matter where I go is one of the many perks of being a twin. Not having to worry if I know someone at an event is always great, as 99% of the time Stephanie will be coming with me to. We can talk to each other about everything and anything.

What traits, interests or habits do you think you share?

SN: I think we share a similar drive and work ethic which stems from our parents. We are both determined to be successful and make our parents proud, in everything that we do. We enjoy trying new activities and restaurants and are in the same friend circles. We also love to catch up on our sleep.

JN: We are also huge sports fans and love watching games together—whether it be the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Toronto Blue Jays. As Stephanie mentioned, we do love our sleep. We can stay in bed all day if there is nothing to do.

What are your sister’s top strengths?

Stephanie and Jessica Nguyen as childeren

SN: Jessica is very intelligent and has the best work ethic I know. She knows what she needs to get done and sets a plan to accomplish her goals. She does everything with extreme care.

JN: Stephanie is a great writer. She has a way with words and loves writing cards to friends and family. During her work terms, her co-workers would often ask her to proofread their client emails.

How has the University of Waterloo made an impact on your family?

SN: It gave my sister and I the opportunity to pursue a professional designation while also receiving a quality education. We went from only knowing each other in first-year to making lifelong friends who are now some of our biggest supporters.

JN: From sharing a double room in Village 1 residence to graduating from both our undergrad and master’s degree, the University of Waterloo has impacted our family greatly. The School of Accounting and Finance provided us with a great education and everlasting memories that I will cherish forever. Although there were times where school was stressful, I can look back and remember all the memories that I made in the past five years.

How will you be celebrating Family Day this year?

SN: We recently moved back to our hometown of Mississauga and so we’re really looking forward to just spending time with our family.

What’s next for you in 2023?

Stephanie and Jessica Nguyen outdoors wearing hats

SN: I’m looking forward to spending more time in Toronto with friends and traveling. I’m working full-time in an industry role after leaving public accounting but getting my CPA designation is still one of my biggest short-term goals that I will hopefully achieve in the next year or so.

JN: Enjoying life, working, and hanging out with friends and family. The first 22 years of my life were planned outfrom going to elementary school, high school, and university; therefore, adult life is a huge adjustment because it can be so unexpected.

What’s a question you’re tired of getting asked as a twin?

JN: ‘Do you fight?’ is a question that we get asked a lot. Having disagreements with your siblings is normal so I’m not sure why people would think that we do not have any disagreements either.

SN: With any sibling, you sometimes frustrate the other and we’re not any different. But I wouldn’t say we argue over things, there are disagreements but nothing huge. That and ‘Who does better in school?’. I think we all know the answer to that question though (I’m not the studious twin, that’s Jessica).

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.