(COURTESY HAYLEY MORRIS)
Hayley Morris should have had her graduation ceremony at Concordia this summer, but COVID-19 made that impossible. She is now hoping that things will get better by the fall so she can finally have the traditional convocation she has always wanted.
However, the young Kanien’kehá:ka woman is more focused on the next step in her journey towards becoming a chartered professional accountant (CPA) and has even more exciting things on the horizon.
“I am receiving a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in accounting after I am done with my summer classes at Concordia (University),” said Morris.
“My parents are ecstatic! My dad (Martin Morris) was kind of surprised that I wanted to go into such a field,” she said.
Morris explained that her interest in accounting was piqued in her final year of high school, when she got an opportunity to take business classes and realized that she really enjoyed the accounting part of the courses.
“With the help of the Tewa (Kahnawake’s Economic Development Commission) program the KSSEP (Kahnawake Summer Student Employment Program), I was able to experience more of the real in-field work. I received a position in finance to see more of the technical aspects that I would encounter after pursuing such a degree,” said Morris.
She began working at the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s (MCK) accounting department and said that the experience was so positive it reinforced her decision to pursue an accounting degree and later her CPA designation.
“I was able to work along real professionals. I got to meet CPAs. They told me what I would look forward to in terms of working as a professional within the community and outside the community,” said Morris.
“I get to see how everything works. And then I get to see the financial part, which accounting goes hand-in-hand with. We get to see interesting projects at MCK and their regular operations. I get a better understanding of accounting through them,” she said.
Her university journey was challenging at times. In her second year, she had to pay for dental work alongside tuition, making things more financially difficult.
“I wanted to graduate within three years, and then I thought, ‘why am I rushing myself?’ Everyone has their own pace. With the help of my parents and all that support I got, I was able to push through,” said Morris.
And she said that there is also a misconception about her chosen degree, like people thinking it is just about numbers when in reality, it requires a lot more.
“It requires a lot of judgment. There is a pretty big thought process in the courses that I had. It is a scary thing but also really rewarding,” she said.
She also encourages young people in the community to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce because there is very little Indigenous representation in those fields.
“I don’t think I came across anyone who was in the accounting major,” she said.
After schools shut down in March, all of her classes were online – an experience she ultimately found was easier because of the time she normally lost commuting, and said that it allowed her to focus more on her studies.
Morris is currently exploring doing the CPA program in an online format because of its flexibility, which would allow her to work simultaneously.
“I am hoping to maintain my GPA. I am still in summer school. I am hoping that it will meet the requirements of the CPA program because, in the end, that is my goal. I would like to achieve that professional designation,” said Morris.
“I just want to highlight the fact that I really hope that if people are interested, I’m an open book, so if they like to learn anything else, I can help out,” she said. After obtaining her CPA designation, Morris hopes to continue to work for the MCK.
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