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Undergrad makes the leap straight to PhD

Serena Song.

When Serena Song was a high school student in Jinan, China, the last thing on her mind was a career in academia.

“I wanted to start a business and make money,” she says with a laugh.

But today, Song, a fourth-year Management student, is headed to the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School to get her PhD in Accounting. And her goal now is to be a professor.

Song came to UTSC through the Green Path program, and was admitted to the Management Co-op program in Finance. During her time as an undergraduate, she did well in all her courses, but was most excited by her work as a teaching assistant and as a research assistant.

As a teaching assistant in B- and C-level economics and finance courses, she found she enjoyed seeing students develop.

“I liked connecting with the students,” she says. “It’s so fulfilling to help them solve their problems.”

That passion for problem solving extended to her research work at UTSC. She participated in two projects, both supervised by Prof. Ling Cen. The first was an examination of the different information roles of sell-side and buy-side financial analysts in earnings conference calls. The other investigated how adding historical information about a company to sites like Wikipedia can affect the company’s stock price. “I loved seeing how dedicated our team members were,” Song says.

At the Simon School, Song will be researching the diffusion of corporate governance mechanisms along the supply chain. She’ll examine why and how different companies in the supply chain develop similar forms of governance.

“It’s very rare for and undergraduate to go straight into a PhD,” says Prof. Cen. “She has worked really hard and is a great example for other students.”

This wasn’t the only offer she had, but Song cites the Simon School’s prestige, long history and its proximity to Toronto as the reasons for her choice.

“I’m nervous, but I think my past experience shows I’m a quick learner,” she says.


© University of Toronto Scarborough