Reflections of an SAF graduate and President’s Scholarship winner

With a very strong Grade Point Average (GPA) in high school (96.6), Huntsville, Ontario native Patrick Vipond could have gone to any university after graduating in 2014, but he wanted to continue the family tradition of attending Ryerson. And when he discovered that the Ted Rogers School of Management had recently opened a School of Accounting and Finance (SAF), he knew he found the perfect fit for his career plans.

Vipond not only got accepted into TRSM, he was awarded the President’s National Entrance Scholarship.  This prestigious award provides $10,000 in funding per year ($40,000 total) to a select group of incoming students who have demonstrated outstanding academic accomplishment and leadership qualities. 

This spring, Vipond graduated from TRSM.  Here is what he had to say about his time in the SAF program, the importance of the President’s Scholarship and his plans for the future. 

Tell me about your time in the Accounting & Finance program.

My time in the Accounting and Finance program was a journey. It was simultaneously stressful and rewarding, and as I progressed through the years, it was obvious the highs greatly outweighed the lows. I began as a student dedicated to my studies, but I quickly learned the importance of gaining experience outside the classroom.

Tutoring Session

My extracurricular experience ranged from tutoring introductory accounting courses to a team lead position supervising tutors, and eventually becoming a Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant. Within these roles, I learned a lot about being part of a team, as well as what makes an effective leader. I was also able to grow significantly as an individual. 

As all students come to understand, it can be exhausting managing full-time classes alongside work and other commitments. I was fortunate to have amazing professors who were willing to answer questions or connect outside of class, as well as great friends who were always available when I needed to unwind. Taking care of myself both physically and mentally was integral to my continued success throughout the program. As my high school accounting teacher often told me, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

What is the most important thing you learned in the program that you think will help you in your career?

There are two vital lessons I learned throughout the program: the value of critical thinking and the importance of meaningful connections.

As a student, it’s easy to fall into a routine of memorizing formulas or steps required to solve a problem, but it’s much more valuable to understand the underlying concepts and how to apply them. Several courses emphasized critical thinking and taught me to approach problems in a dynamic way, which will undoubtedly pay dividends in my career.

The School of Accounting and Finance is a diverse community with a vast skillset, and I am proud to have been part of it. Many of the opportunities I received were a result of the connections I made, and their importance cannot be understated. I will carry them with me throughout my career.

How did winning the President’s National Scholarship help you throughout your schooling?

The impact the President’s National Scholarship had on my schooling is truly unquantifiable. Before I had even started my first semester, this scholarship motivated me to perform at my absolute best, thus setting the tone for my entire undergraduate career.

I attribute a lot of my success to this scholarship as it allowed me to focus on my studies and remain disciplined. With such a grand incentive to do well, I was able to develop a variety of skills which led to additional scholarships, campus positions and internships, allowing me to graduate debt-free.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming TRSM students? 

As an incoming student, your entire future is wide open and there are countless paths you can choose to take. My advice is to be open to opportunities as they present themselves and don’t be afraid to find your own path. Simply by taking advantage of opportunities as they come up, you can learn a lot about what you want to do while also refining your skills. The best decisions I have made are saying yes to the various opportunities I was offered.

With that in mind, it is also okay to pursue an untraditional path. Throughout all the interactions I have had with my peers, professors, supervisors and accounting professionals, it’s become clear to me that everyone has different preferences and a unique skillset. What worked for me isn’t necessarily the best method for others to succeed, and so it’s important to discover what you ultimately want to achieve. It took me a long time to fully understand where I wanted to go in my career, but all the opportunities I took advantage of along the way helped me determine what I want to do.  

What are your plans after graduating?

First and foremost, I am pursuing my Chartered Professional Accountant designation. I plan on working in public accounting for the foreseeable future and growing within a firm where I can gain exposure to the various areas of accounting. I want to further develop my skillset and connect with others as I begin my career. Besides that, I hope to travel to different parts of the world and continue enjoying accounting and my time outside of work.