Meet Tori Stewart
Degree: MS in Accountancy
Hometown: Medina, Ohio
From now through July, Tori will be preparing for the CPA exam. Once summer ends, she’ll be teaching at Wake Forest for the fall semester and getting ready for her wedding in November. In January, she will move to Connecticut to work as a post-graduate technical assistant for the Financial Accounting Standards Board. “After that, I am grateful to have the opportunity to return to PwC in Charlotte,” says Tori. “And who knows, perhaps a permanent teaching career will be in my future as well!”
Q: What inspired you to take up your field of study?
A: I always wanted to be an accountant like my mom, because I loved math and numbers. When I started looking at colleges in high school with my dad, we looked for ones with good business schools. When I got to Wake Forest and took my first accounting class, I knew that was what I wanted to do. It fit well with my nerdy side!
Q: Who were your mentors? Your biggest cheerleaders?
A: Dr. Wilkerson, the director of the accounting program, first sparked my interest in accounting when I had him for Introductory Financial Accounting. He has guided me toward many opportunities, one of which led me to the post-graduate internship with the Financial Accounting Standards Board. He also introduced me last spring to professor Tessien, for whom I served as a teacher’s assistant this year. She encouraged me to look into teaching an accounting class this fall before my FASB internship starts, and fortunately for me, Dr. Wilkerson was able to make this happen. Professor Tessien has been a great mentor to me. No matter how much she has going on, she always finds time to help others and keep a positive attitude. I hope I can balance a successful career, my family, and my extracurricular involvements in the future as well as she can. My biggest cheerleaders have undoubtedly been my parents and my fiancé, always there to support, encourage and help in every way they could.
Q: What class did you enjoy most and why?
A: I really enjoyed my Forensic Accounting class with Dr. Aldhizer. We had a capstone case about an employee committing fraud that was like detective work. We used text analytics to search through 500 emails for incriminating evidence. We met with co-workers and third parties to seek additional information and incriminating evidence, and we conducted an accusatory interview with the main suspect, ultimately obtaining a confession. The course itself was a unique business class, but Dr. Aldhizer’s passion for both teaching and forensics took the class to the next level.
Q: What happened during your time at Wake Forest that surprised you?
A: When I first moved to Winston-Salem my freshman year, I figured that Wake Forest would just be where I lived the next few years. I didn’t come to college with the expectation of finding a new place to call home, but sometime during the past few years, that changed. I have grown close to so many people, and I am happy and comfortable here. Wake Forest has definitely become a home to me. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to stay and teach this fall, because I am not ready to leave.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at Wake Forest?
A: I have so many great memories, but a few of my favorites come from playing club volleyball. I met some of my best friends on the team, and I know I will have lifelong friendships with these girls.
Q: Did you participate in an internship?
A: My senior year, I interned with PwC in Charlotte. Working for a Big 4 firm during the accounting busy season was a great preview of life as a public accountant. I learned the value of hard work and long hours, but it was crazy how quickly the time passed! The senior associate I worked with was absolutely wonderful – no matter how swamped she was, she always was ready to answer my questions with a smile. I loved that I could dive into the work and actually contribute to the audit team, but still have her there to assist me when I needed help. I hope to be an encouraging, supportive leader like her in the future.
Q: What is the most dramatic change you’ve undergone during your graduate studies?
A: Gaining more confidence. I know that Wake Forest has thoroughly prepared me for the working world, and I learned that those outside of Wake Forest really value the education we receive. I learned to pursue my own interests and go after new experiences, rather than simply follow the standard path, and this led me to a job opportunity that I’m thrilled to have received.
Q: What does earning this degree mean to you?
A: This degree is the culmination of my college career, signifying all the hard work I’ve put in and the accomplishments I’ve achieved. It’s funny that such a little piece of paper can signify all the effort it takes to earn a degree, but I am proud that I earned it from such a well-respected, rigorous program.