"Brockport opened the door to a career path I didn't know existed. And, I didn't have to put my life on hold to pay for it."
From an early age, Karen Gottermeier Webber had a love of learning. The oldest of six children, Karen comes from a close-knit family, and she was homeschooled in Webster, NY, for most of elementary through high school. She knew she wanted to stay in Rochester for college, so she started her studies at Monroe Community College, and transferred to The College at Brockport in the fall of 2007.
While an undergraduate student, Karen met John Keiser, PhD, in an organizational behavior course. She enjoyed learning about the dynamics of interpersonal and work relationships, and found a mentor in Dr. Keiser. "Dr. Keiser, himself once an accounting major, recommended (and still does) various books and articles on organizational behavior. He's a person that I would often go to for advice and insight," says Karen. "He also wrote letters of recommendation for graduate schools I applied to."
When it came time for Karen to think about graduate school, she looked at several local colleges and universities, but decided to attend Brockport.
"I was deciding between an MBA and an MS in accounting. Inspired by my tutoring work at Monroe Community College, I wanted a graduate degree so that, later in life, I could be a college professor," says Karen. After considering several MBA programs, she felt that many of the programs were the same. "Brockport's forensic accounting programs sounded interesting. And, after doing a little research, I found that there was no other program like it in the area. With this being an up and coming field, I felt that a forensic accounting degree would make me more marketable."
Her graduate school year was the most rewarding, according to Karen. "Our class was small, just seven full-time students. We all grew very close. The classes were more like roundtable discussions than lectures. We did interactive case studies and role-playing."
In the graduate program, Karen was an overachiever and she excelled in her studies. And, when the department organized a recruiting event in fall 2009, she received three job offers. Karen took a position with EFP Rotenberg LLP (a CPA firm), for its relationship with sister company StoneBridge Business Partners, a forensic accounting and business consulting firm.
After Karen graduated with her master's degree, she took time to travel to Ireland and meet up with an old friend. This experience opened her eyes to the world. It also solidified her belief that forensic accounting was the right field for her. "It was a risk for me to go into this field, but I wanted a different experience than the typical CPA experience. The forensic accounting field challenges me every day, because the scenarios change every day," she says.
In her current role at StoneBridge Business Partners, Karen is putting her education to work as a forensic accountant. She does research for the firm partners, gathers insights through data-mining, and is learning new business models. She also travels across the country to help with investigations.
An active volunteer, Karen has participated in United Way's Day of Caring, helped build a house with Habitat for Humanity, and is active in the Blessed Sacrament Supper Program. She also is a member of the Rochester Young Professionals and the Kickball League of Rochester.
Karen says that she wants to continue to learn. She and her fiancé are eager to continue their education. Their plans are on hold, for now, as they prepare for their wedding in May 2012.
"At Brockport , you get the reputation and quality of the SUNY system, but a private school feel. You run into your professors in the hall or in line at the café. Their offices are where your classes are, not off in a distant building," she says about her experiences at Brockport.
According to Karen, "my foundation comes from my family, and my support comes from Brockport. These two things have helped me to build my life."