Bright side of life: Meet DeGroote valedictorian Mussa Gikineh

June 9, 2020 | Hamilton
Contributed by Sonia Verma, Manager, Strategic Communications

Mussa Gikineh

“McMaster has helped me become a well-rounded person and find my passion for business. I’ve learned a lot from many different people with different perspectives and ideas.” Meet Mussa Gikineh, the 2020 valedictorian for the DeGroote School of Business. He will be working at KPMG in their audit function while pursuing his CPA.

Mussa Gikineh.

North York, Ontario.

What is the degree and subject you pursued?
Honours Bachelor of Commerce with a focus in Accounting.

What made you choose McMaster for higher education?
During the last year of high school, I was not too sure about the whole university process but I knew I wanted to get into business. I had a friend who completed the first year of her sciences studies at McMaster. She came back to my high school and shared her experience at McMaster. This intrigued me and my two friends. We researched McMaster and found Accounting to be one of the focuses in the business program. This further inclined us to apply and we ended up choosing McMaster.

What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
I will be working at KPMG in their audit function while pursuing my CPA. I see myself venturing out as an entrepreneur in the future. I’ve always wanted to start a business and see where I can take it.

What would you say to your first-year self?
I would tell myself to get more involved early with extra-curricular activities and network to build relationships. This is something professors and other faculty members stressed throughout the years and I finally realized towards the latter part of my time at ​McMaster. Meaningful relationships continue to blossom after school and are helpful in moving forward in life.

Do you have any advice for current and future students?
My advice to current and future students is remember to enjoy yourself. It’s okay to have a little fun without guilt-tripping yourself. Time flies! Your time at McMaster is going to be a unique and special experience and you should cherish and make the best of it. I’d also encourage both current and future students to find a mentor early on who can help guide you. Someone who maybe is a little ahead of you, who can share ideas and show you how to maneuver during your time at McMaster. I would also like to say during these times, keep a positive attitude, and keep the faith. Never let hard times bring the worst out of you, be strong, and try to look at the bright side.

How has McMaster shaped the person you are today?
McMaster helped me become a more open-minded person, to think out the box, and differently from the majority. McMaster has helped me become a well-rounded person and find my passion for business. I’ve learned a lot from many different people with different perspectives and ideas. I am prepared to tackle anything in my future endeavors. The friends I’ve made at McMaster are long-term and have also influenced the person I am today.

What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster/in Hamilton?
Being a part of JDCC (JDC Central, an undergraduate business school competition) in my last year was enjoyable. JDCC combined academics, socializing and community service and has helped me strengthen my professional skills. Light Up the Night was always fun. It was a great way to end the year with an amusement park feel on campus. Not to mention the food and all the decorations and lights that glowed up on campus. As a member of the MacAfricans club, the social events throughout campus were amazing this year.

What is your definition of success?
We often have a set-in-stone view of what success looks like but I believe success is subjective. If one can sit down and say “I am proud of myself for achieving what I did”, that is success to me. To be at peace within and believe your individual achievement should not be compared to others.

How has McMaster helped you create a Brighter World?
As a JDCC DeGroote delegate, I had the pleasure of volunteering in the Hamilton community, helping out the less fortunate with necessities. I was able to impact individuals with just providing them with a fraction of my time every week. MacAfricans allowed us to cater to students on campus who were looking for events related to the African culture. We were able to provide ourselves a space to celebrate our culture. Overall McMaster has provided me with the tools to be able to help and give back to our community.

Who is your favourite professor?
Professor Aadil Merali Juma has been beneficial to me during my time at McMaster. He taught halfway through first-year accounting and was a mentor to me this year through JDCC. I got to know him better this last year outside of classes. He has been an amazing support system. Discussions in Professor Justin Jin’s Accounting and Accounting theory classes were interesting and he’s been a great help to me during my time at McMaster.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Definitely the ability to fly. I would have an aerial view of the world and won’t have to worry about transportation to places.

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
I would say Spain. I have a lot of family there and I’d like to learn about the language and culture.

What have you been doing to self-care during the COVID-19 lockdown?
The lockdown coincides with Ramadan. I’ve been observing Ramadan with family at home. I try my best to be as active as I can. I’ll go for a quick jog or stretch in the morning. I try to connect with family and friends virtually as much as possible. Also, the online Graduate Diploma in Professional Accountancy program at McMaster has been keeping me busy every week.

What’s the hardest part about working virtually for you? The easiest?
For me, the hardest part is being able to get the rich communication experience you would get from a face to face conversation. Although virtual video calls try to simulate real-life encounters, it is just not the same. The easiest part is not having to spend time and money commuting to and from work/classes. No more waiting in traffic or for the bus to arrive. The ability to just wake up and open your laptop and start work is great.

What would you advise others as we transition to a new normal?
Let the current situation be a teaching moment for us to always try to prepare in advance for the unknown. I would also like to mention that we should keep a positive attitude and be optimistic about the “new normal”.  As humans, we should not be resistant to change, but be able to adapt when the time comes.

While at Mac, did you receive donor-funded financial assistance (e.g., a scholarship, award, bursary)? Any thoughts on the importance of giving back to your alma mater to support future generations?
Yes, thankfully I have received multiple scholarships, bursaries, and other financial assistance during my time at McMaster. As a student, financial assistance really helped me to get by and focus more on academics and extracurricular. Staying connected and giving back to your alma mater is beneficial for future students. The team at McMaster’s call centre does a great job of obtaining donations. As a student fundraising representative at McMaster’s call centre, we strived to connect alumni with the school and help them give back to students and the community. These contributions have made a significant impact on a student’s life.

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