A natural-born problem solver with a love for numbers, Chelsea Okankwu has always excelled in mathematics.
“Ever since I was a kid I always loved doing math problems and I was always good at them,” she says. “I loved doing puzzles, too, and the feeling I have when all the pieces are in place is the same way I feel about math problems: I like critical thinking and finding solutions.”
Currently in the second year of her bachelor of commerce with a major in accountancy at the John Molson School of Business, Okankwu is aiming for a job with one of the Big Four accounting firms after graduating.
“I would like to end up at one of the big firms, like Deloitte or PwC — they seem to be the most diverse,” she says. “Hitting gender quotas is important to them, as is including diversity among their core values, and I want to be somewhere like that.”
An active member of John Molson Women in Leadership, a student group whose goal is to engage, educate and empower Concordians, Okankwu is dedicated to helping give students the tools they need to rise through the ranks of the corporate world.
“Our events, workshops and mentoring are mostly about spreading the word about how equality in the workplace is still an issue,” explains Okankwu. “We get executives from large companies to come in and talk about how we can effect change in our workplace, as men or women.”
Welcome help during a difficult time
During Okankwu’s first year, she underwent a successful bone marrow transplant for sickle cell anemia, which meant she couldn’t work. Thanks to the Richard Lapointe Entrance Bursary, she was able to pursue her studies nonetheless.
Grateful to the donor who funded her award, she says, “The bursary really helped me with my rent and food. It gave me some wiggle room to pursue my studies and not worry so much about the monetary issue.”
Now that she’s fully recovered and back at her job at Concordia’s Financial Services, Okankwu is thinking about her next steps, including pursuing her master’s degree.
“The big reason I chose Concordia is for the culture and I’m so glad I did,” she says. “I love working for the university because they understand that I’m a student first, and they’ve been extremely flexible with me, very accommodating.”