June 9, 2021
Class of 2021: From equations to ethnomusicology
A lot of change can happen during your university years, based on who you meet and the opportunities you experience. Many students become a different person.
For Haskayne Bachelor of Commerce student Bernice Cheung, that’s precisely what happened. Cheung’s undergraduate studies started in the Haskayne School of Business. Well into her studies, she rediscovered her love of music, which led to her adding a Bachelor of Music to her portfolio. “I employ creativity in my music performances and compositions, but I’ve also used creativity in problem-solving for my commerce courses and accounting internships,” she says.
Journey of an outgoing introvert
Cheung began her business school journey six years ago in the human resources concentration, with a goal of attaining the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. She describes herself as an outgoing introvert. She enjoys working with people but recharges by spending time alone. However, through contemplation, taking different courses and seeking advice from friends, Cheung felt she could thrive in accounting. Her new goal became working toward both the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) and CPHR designations. In her second year at Haskayne, she switched into the accounting concentration.
During her undergraduate journey, Cheung sought many opportunities to enrich her business education. She held leadership roles in the Accounting Students’ Association, the Commerce Undergraduate Society, the Students’ Union Volunteer Tax Program and the Hong Kong Students’ Association. Additionally, Cheung was the ENTI 317 lead teaching assistant for four years, impacting many students’ lives. Most recently, she received a Teaching Excellence Award from the Students’ Union, an incredible form of recognition from her peers.
Outside school, Cheung attended the PwC Talent Academy in Toronto in 2018. She then worked as a corporate tax intern at PwC and summer assurance intern at Deloitte.
Change in direction
An introductory ethnomusicology course motivated Cheung to go back to her music roots and consider other future paths. Her extroverted side began to come through.
“I realized I related to these music concepts more than I did to human resources, to accounting, to business. What I love is not just music on its own, but music within the context of people. It always goes back to the people for me,” she explains. This realization led her to take more music courses and pursue the Bachelor of Music in addition to her business studies.
Cheung goes on to say, “Whenever I tell people what I study at UCalgary, the response I always receive is, ‘Music and accounting? Why? Those two are so unrelated!’” Cheung’s experiences have shown her that the two areas of learning are more interconnected than what most people first perceive. Her business education helped her grow the music business she started at age 16.
Cheung applied entrepreneurial thinking toward her own music teaching services. For example, entrepreneurial thinking relies on gathering primary research to understand the users' needs and feelings. In the same way, Cheung conducts meet-and-greets with prospective students and their parents so she can better understand how to deliver the best service.
One piece of advice Cheung would give other students: “Be open to new experiences and opportunities you encounter in university and in life. How would you know that something isn’t for you unless you’ve actually done it? I think it is important to not be so rigid in your own path because there are so many opportunities to explore.”
Next: PhD studies
Newly graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Bachelor of Music in Integrated Studies, Cheung's love of learning will not stop here! In September 2021, she will move to Toronto to begin her PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. “Although I am pursuing music, no one can take away the business experiences that I have accumulated. It is with those experiences that I was able to learn and discover so much about myself and what I truly want to do.”