Class of ’24

Colleen Farrell headshot
Photo by Emily Kennedy

Incoming Assurance Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Colleen Farrell, GABELLI ’24, is among the first wave of accounting students who are sitting for the new CPA exam that rolled out this year. The CPA Evolution initiative is a joint effort of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to reshape the exam to align with the demand for new competencies, including knowledge of and proficiency in emerging technologies.

At first, Farrell was concerned about the new format, but when she began studying, her apprehension was quickly replaced with confidence.

“My biggest fear was that I was going to go in knowing absolutely nothing, and that could not have been further from the truth,” she said, adding that so far, “every single accounting class” she’s taken at the Gabelli School is reflective of the new exam content.

Farrell took the exam’s Financial Accounting and Reporting section in March, and has three more sections to go. In December 2023, she completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting information systems and is now working toward her master’s in professional accounting. She enrolled in the Gabelli School’s 4+1 program to complete both degrees in under five years.

Farrell also secured a position with a “Big Four” accounting firm—PricewaterhouseCoopers—which she’ll begin in January. This highly coveted opportunity was the result of a successful internship in the firm’s external assurance division.

“I’m excited because it’s such a great company,” she explained. “They take a genuine interest in the interns and I formed so many connections in the time I was there. I’m thrilled to be doing meaningful work—helping ensure the integrity of financial statements that are going to get issued—and doing it at a firm where the values and people resonate with me.”

As a woman in accounting information systems, the job stability and integration of cutting-edge technology are part of what attracted Farrell to the field.

“I honestly don’t know why more women aren’t drawn to this field,” she said. “Women can be very organized, and I found that the characteristics of being organized and analytical aligned with both accounting and myself.”

While Farrell’s decision to apply to Fordham’s Gabelli School was an easy one—she grew up in nearby New Jersey and liked the idea of studying business in New York City—she wasn’t sure what career path to pursue. That changed after her first accounting class when she realized that she had a natural aptitude for accounting and technology.

As an undergraduate, Farrell served as the president of Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for accounting, finance, and information systems, and was a member of Smart Woman Securities, where she placed first in a stock-pitch competition. She also was a teaching assistant in the Gabelli School’s Ground Floor course for first-year business students, a freshman advisor, and a member of Fordham’s women’s club soccer team throughout her undergraduate years.

Farrell is the fourth member of her family to find her place in accounting, following her father, James Farrell, GABELLI ’98, and mother, both of whom are CPAs, and her sister who also works in the field.

“Ever since I left high school, my parents said, ‘The world’s your oyster. Whatever you want to do, just do it,’” Farrell said. “They’re so supportive. They think there are no limits to what I can do.”

— Gabrielle Simonson