Well-Rounded Education Paves the Way

Keelyn Bergstrom BComm'12At just 21-years-old, Keelyn Bergstrom is only a month away from qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University in 2011, when she was 18. Upon graduation, she had already completed a co-operative term with KPMG in Vancouver. When she receives her Chartered Accountant (CA) designation next month, she will be one of the youngest people in Canada to receive that accreditation.

Keelyn currently works as a senior consultant in KPMG’s business valuations and litigation support group and is enrolled in the Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) program. Seeking out the next opportunity for learning and advancement is a theme that has run through Keelyn’s young life so far.

Growing up in West Vancouver, Keelyn says she always looked up to her two older brothers, one of whom is also a chartered accountant and mentored her through her journey toward achieving her designation.

Keelyn admits that heading off to university at just 15 years of age was somewhat intimidating. Although she had many university offers, Keelyn chose Saint Mary’s as she liked the idea of smaller classes and “more face time” with professors and other students.

“When I first arrived in Halifax I did not know anyone and it seemed a bit daunting to be so far from home on my own at such a young age. One of my biggest learning experiences was stepping outside of my comfort zone to try new things.”

One of those new experiences happened when Keelyn joined the Drama Society. She not only acted as the society’s treasurer (a position she took on to boost her business acumen), she also scored the lead role in both Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice. “I never would have imagined that I could do that,” she says. “This is one of the things Saint Mary’s taught me: that I could achieve anything with hard work and perseverance.”

Being significantly younger than her peers, Keelyn says one of her biggest strengths, both within her program and in her extra-curricular activities, was her ability to listen—a skill she honed while writing articles for The Journal, SMU’s student newspaper—and her willingness to being mentored. “I had a number of professors who took time to mentor me personally. In large part due to their attention and inspiration, I decided to pursue my CA designation.”

Now a young professional, Keelyn says her three and a half years at SMU helped prepare her for the world of business in more ways than she realized at the time.

“Seizing every opportunity that came my way while at SMU opened many doors and helped me to see beyond the scope of my experience. Looking back, I am extremely glad that I worked consistently hard throughout my degree program and took advantage of opportunities—both within my program and extra-curricular activities outside of my program—to broaden my skill set.”