Vaz recognized as Accountant of the Year, exceptional students honored

By Michael Draves

Ryan Vaz, MBA ’02, MS ’03, Partner at KPMG, was named Accountant of the Year for 2023 by the UB School of Management’s Accounting and Law Department.


Established in 1984, the Accountant of the Year award honors an alumnus who has been successful in the accounting profession and made significant contributions to the school and its students. Ryan Vaz accepted the honor at the department’s annual awards banquet in May.

A partner in KPMG’s New York City office, Vaz leads audits of banks and broker-dealers. He joined the Buffalo office of KPMG in 2003 after completing MBA and MS accounting degrees at the School of Management. He subsequently transferred to New York, where he completed a prestigious rotation in the firm’s Department of Professional Practice. In 2016, Vaz was admitted to the partnership at KPMG.

Vaz is a dedicated UB alum. He appears on campus regularly to recruit students, and has developed a steady pipeline of UB students to KPMG’s New York office. He is active on the UB Accounting Advisory Council, providing insight to the accounting faculty on current developments in the profession. Recently, he successfully organized an endowed scholarship for UB accounting students, recognizing a high-achieving student annually to further their studies.

He and his wife, Bianca, reside on Long Island with their son, Luca. They return to Western New York each fall to cheer on the Buffalo Bills. Vaz also enjoys fine dining and documentary film.

Honoring outstanding students

In addition to celebrating Vaz’s accomplishments, the Accounting and Law Department also lauded many exceptional students at its annual awards banquet. The students and the awards they received were:

  • Sunny Chen, the PwC Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes a role model in Beta Alpha Psi who demonstrates inclusive and collaborative thinking, a positive attitude and a drive for professional and personal development
  • Colleen Chen, the PwC Outstanding Service Award, given to a graduating senior and Beta Alpha Psi member who has demonstrated outstanding service and leadership
  • Katriel Agregado and Natalie Mejia, the David Kim Memorial Award, presented to a Beta Alpha Psi member who promotes inclusivity by exhibiting strong leadership, a willingness to help and an outgoing, uplifting nature
  • Adam Wyckoff, the EY Community Impact Award, given to a member in good standing of the UB Accounting Association (UBAA) who aspires towards active citizenship in the Buffalo community, as evidenced through their involvement with the VITA program. They are committed to giving back to the community by using their technical accounting skills to assist low-income residents in completing their income tax returns.
  • Vera Cho, the EY Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, given to a member in good standing of the UBAA who goes above and beyond in order to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for UBAA members and students in general. They are an advocate for others, fostering both success and belonging for everyone in the club.
  • Jayden Crawford, the EY Transformational Leadership Award, given to a member in good standing of the UBAA who is invested in actively mentoring and coaching others and is a role model for their peers. They are a positive influence, connecting with others and lifting them up with their advice and support.
  • Lauren Pollock, the EY Outstanding Involvement Award, given to a member in good standing of the UBAA who been actively seeking out personal and professional development opportunities through their participation in UBAA initiatives and events. They are highly motivated, curious, and dedicated to furthering their growth in numerous facets.
  • Connor Harris, the Eddy Lin Memorial Award, presented to a graduating student focusing on a career with a mid-size public accounting firm. The recipient must mentor others and exhibit scholastic excellence, a passion for learning, and a caring and fun attitude
  • Puja Shah and Kasey Pacanowski, the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) Award of Honor, given to graduating bachelor’s and master’s students, respectively, for scholastic excellence. Shah and Pacanowski also were honored with the NYSSCPA Superior Scholars Awards, which are presented annually at the state level. These awards celebrate exceptional achievements in the field of accounting studies
  • Dishita Guwalani, the Lisa Friedman Memorial Award, which honors a female accounting senior who is highly regarded by her peers for her integrity and potential contributions to the profession
  • Kristina Jiang, the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) John T. Kennedy Memorial Award, given to a junior accounting major for scholastic excellence
  • Kelsey Sullivan, the Accounting and Law Outstanding Fifth-Year Student Award, presented to a student in the fifth year of a 150-hour program based on academic performance and service
  • Shah also received the University at Buffalo Accounting Association (UBAA) Michael S. Dockery Memorial Senior Award, given to a graduating UBAA member who has provided exemplary leadership and service to the club and school

Finally, the department also recognized the following scholarship winners:

  • Amy Lian, Timothy Morris, Puja Shah, and Vicki Wang, Accounting and Law Department MS Accounting Scholarships
  • Justin Froese, Connor Harris, Vanessa Ho, Ryan Jellinick, Edison Lin, Kun Lin, and Ting Zheng, Accounting and Law Department Undergraduate Scholarships
  • Graciana Truesdale, the Judith and Allan Felong Trinkwald Endowed Fellowship
  • Colleen Chen and ZhenDong Gao, the Accounting Advisory Council Fellowship
  • Gilberto Del Orbe, Andrew Jung, and Amanda Zhang, the Gloria and Oscar Goldstein Memorial Fellowship
  • Hortense Nankafu Musole, the Paul W. Sweet Memorial Health Care Finance Student Financial Assistance Fund
  • Rayyan Akhter, the KPMG Accounting Excellence Fellowship
  • Dishita Guwalani, the Kathleen M. Hamm, BS ’85, Accounting Fellowship
  • Natalie Mejia, the Keith M. Stolzenburg Fellowship
  • Mitchell Ryczek, the PCAOB Scholarship
  • Melissa Christensen, the Victor and Joan Brown MS Accounting Fellowship