Balancing Numbers and Kindness: Alumnus Provides Experiential Learning for York’s Accounting Students

There was a time when Bartosz Amerski (BAS ‘06) thought that university was not for him. As a Polish immigrant who came to Canada in 1990 at 12 years old, he believed that his rudimentary English-language skills and lack of funds would preclude him from pursuing higher education.

“I felt that financially and in terms of my background, my post-secondary education options were limited,” says Amerski, who worked throughout his high-school years to support himself, his mother and sister, “but many people encouraged me to follow my dreams. I knew that business studies would be the next step for greater career opportunities.”

In 1999, bolstered by that encouragement from loved ones and colleagues, Amerski, who was working as a hospital pharmacy technician, enrolled as a mature part-time student at York University's School of Administrative Studies at Atkinson College, now housed within the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS). He says that York immediately felt like home.

“I could relate to the large population of foreign students,” he explains. “I'd walk into my classrooms to find people of different ages, backgrounds and languages who were all there to better themselves. York had a tremendous impact on me and gave me a second chance at life; it opened doors I never even knew existed.”

Those open doors of opportunity included a job upon graduation at Ernst and Young, during which he obtained his chartered accountant designation, an auditing and accounting lecturer position at York, as well as a management position at the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. As a manager, Amerski could give input on hiring decisions, and when the need for summer interns arose, he thought immediately of York and advertised the opportunity to students in his external auditing class.

Although the internship positions are open to students from all schools, York students consistently come out on top. Amerski says that the students’ gumption and commitment to success set them apart.

“York attracts hard-working, resilient students,” says Amerski, who is now acting audit director at the Office of the Auditor General. “That type of student motivates me. They have both the academic skills and life experiences to excel on the job.”

Since 2014, the Office of the Auditor General has hired seven summer students from York, five of whom now work full-time under Amerski's portfolio. Amerski, who is completing a part-time LLM degree at Osgoode Hall Law School, says that giving back to York by providing job opportunities for students is an immensely rewarding experience.

“I’m incredibly grateful for my York education, and it gives me great satisfaction to give current accounting students a helping hand,” he says. “I know the sacrifices students make to achieve their degrees. The York students whom we’ve hired remind me of myself as undergraduate; they are constantly pushing themselves, and that's an inspiration.”