Christopher Kelly ’11, and the John G. Petti III Scholarship

Christopher Kelly ’11, and the John G. Petti III Scholarship

by Meredith Guinness

Christopher Kelly ’11 laughed at the suggestion he could just coast through his final year of college since he’s already snagged a dream first job with KPMG, a Big Four accounting firm based in Stamford, Conn.

“No, I don’t think so,” said the accounting major, who interned with the firm last summer. “But it is great to know it’s there when I graduate. It’s a relief.”

And it’s not much of a surprise. Kelly has spent all four years at Fairfield working towards this goal, making the Dean’s List every semester of his education. This year, his dedication and perseverance has been recognized with a John G. Petti III Scholarship in the amount of $18,500. Established as a reunion gift in 1997 by John Petti ’83, it is given out each year to one or more students with financial need in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business.

“It’s a significant amount,” Kelly said of the scholarship. “I was raised by a single parent and money was a reality when I was applying to school. People say they feel blessed (to receive a scholarship) and it’s true. I work very hard because of what I’ve been given.”

Kelly applied to Fairfield from his hometown of Brewster, N.Y. He was looking at Jesuit schools and he thought Fairfield was the right size for him. “I was looking for a small school. I couldn’t go to a Penn State. I didn’t want to be just a number. You can’t stand out.”

He came to Fairfield considering a double major in accounting and finance, but he enjoyed the accounting program so much, he’s sticking with it as a single major. “The professors are great – very intelligent, very qualified,” he said. He has immersed himself in the accounting world, including his part-time job with the firm Dylewsky, Goldberg & Brenner, LLC, in Stamford. A participant in the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program on campus, he also took part in a service-learning class in which students assist low-income families in Bridgeport with tax preparation services.

An internship at a smaller firm showed he had what it took to compete at KPMG, which demands a lot of its interns: In his final two weeks he was working in the tax division and logged a whopping 160 hours of work time. “It’s put on you to shine,” he said.

Which isn’t to say Kelly is exclusively focused on his studies and his future career. A trumpet player since the fourth grade, he plays for the Varsity Pep Band and plays club soccer, a commitment of two, two-hour practices a week and a weekend game.

“It’s really fun and everyone’s in it for the same motivation,” Kelly said of his soccer team. “And you meet all different kinds of people.”

Once Kelly gets to KPMG, he hopes to come back to Fairfield – in a way – through the company’s partnership with the Dolan School of Business. Employees can take Fairfield classes toward a master of science in taxation degree right at the firm’s Summer Street offices. He hopes to become a CPA, pursue an MBA and eventually branch out into investment banking or private equity. “It’s a great opportunity,” he said.

Looking back at his Fairfield education, Kelly says he appreciated the University’s emphasis on the individual and its varied, values-based education. “You come out of here with broader horizons,” he said. “It makes you a more complete person.”