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Pursuing Careers He Never Knew Existed

Valuation program opens new doors for teacher seeking direction

Seamus Lawson
Economic and Valuation Services Associate, KPMG

Vanderbilt MAcc Valuation 2023

After completing his undergraduate degree in economics and finance, Seamus Lawson spent two years working as a math teacher through the Teach for America program. He’s justifiably proud that his students, along with career teachers many years his senior, voted him Teacher of the Month. “I’ve been awarded opportunities and scholarships,” he says, “but that little piece of paper acknowledging my work as a teacher meant the most to me.”

The two years Seamus spent in a San Antonio high school also allowed him to reflect on his future career direction. “I knew I wanted to study accounting,” he says, “but I did not necessarily want to work in audit. The MAcc Valuation program had everything I did not know I was even looking for. It combined my interest in economics with technical training in finance and accounting. I felt I lacked hard skills, and Vanderbilt was able to get me started at the highest level.”

Coming from an experience at a large public university, Seamus found that the intimacy and class size at Vanderbilt made an enormous difference. “A perk of being here is the pedigree of the people teaching the classes and sitting in classes together,” he says. “Being on a smaller scale lowers the barrier to entry to connect and build genuine relationships. It does not allow anyone to hide and encourages everyone to achieve.”

Those relationships, Seamus notes, extend beyond the classroom. As one example, he cites his experience running two half-marathons during his time at Vanderbilt. “I got seven classmates on board to run the second one,” he says. “I came in last among our group, but 15 people from our program came out and cheered us on.”

Looking back a year after he came to Nashville, Seamus felt a sense of accomplishment. “I am walking away with the technical skills I signed up for, incredible development in my soft skills, and relationships I would have otherwise not made. Vanderbilt showed me careers and ideas that I did not know existed, and brought out excellence in me.”

“The program got me the job I wanted and would not have been able to get without the training, education, and connections [I found at Vanderbilt]. It has shown me what excellence looks like in business and what it takes to succeed. It also has given me so much confidence in my ability to carve out a career I want.”

Fun Fact: Someday, Seamus hopes to own a coffee shop.

“The MAcc Valuation program at Vanderbilt had everything I did not know I was even looking for.”